Issuu on Google+

PERSECU ION International Christian Concern | September 2013

The Silent Persecution of

CHINA ISSUE 1/4 BY RYAN MORGAN

The history of Christianity in China encompasses a story of persecution and revival so vast that before it, only the Roman Empire could compare. For nearly 18 centuries after the birth of Christ, one of the world’s largest people groups remained virtually unaffected by the news that Jesus had come. Once the Gospel finally arrived in China to stay, Christians faced wave after wave of resistance. • •

In 1724, Emperor Yongzheng officially made Christianity illegal and destroyed 300 churches. Brave missionaries risked death to share the Gospel. In 1899, Hudson Taylor had started a missionary-inspired revival of unheardof proportions in China, only for the Boxer Rebellion to leave hundreds, if not thousands, of Christians murdered across the country. In 1949, Mao Tse-tung, a man with an unwavering commitment to making himself the god of the Chinese people, took power. Persecution ensued on a massive scale. You can help today! 800-ICC-5441

1


OVERVIEW

In this newsletter you will find the deeply moving testimony of Mr. Song (named changed for security), a man who found Christ at the last second in the midst of darkness after being imprisoned and publicly shamed for refusing to call Mao “god.” Yet Mr. Song’s testimony also reveals the astounding work of God that has been taking place in China over the past few decades. From near total darkness, the growth of Christianity in China is now believed to be the fastest in the world. After hundreds of years of persecution, the Chinese people are coming to Jesus on an unprecedented scale. Today, it’s commonly believed that as many as 20,000 new Christians accept Christ in China daily and that more people attend church on Sunday in China than in all of continental Europe. But what about persecution? Has it ended with the great revival of Chinese Christianity? Hardly. This year, ICC spent many hours on the BUT WH AT ABOU T ground in China investigatP E RSE C U T ION? H AS IT ing the situation for believers. E NDE D WIT H T H E G REAT What we discovered (and what R E V I VA L OF CH IN ESE you’ll find in these pages) is that while conditions have improved C HR I STI AN IT Y? H ARDLY. tremendously, the Communist -RYA N MORG AN, ICC Party has also become very good at simply hiding persecution. R EGI ON A L MANAGER FO R

SOUTHEAST ASIA

With such rapid growth, one of the greatest needs of the Church remains Bibles. Despite reports that China now prints millions of Bibles internally (under the direct control of the Communist Party), the large majority of these are exported for profit and never reach Chinese Christians. From every testimony, one thing is clear: Chinese Christians will do anything for the cause of Christ. They are committed to preaching Jesus to the very end regardless of their circumstances. At ICC, we are committed to helping them do just that. Whether training new pastors, assisting those who have been imprisoned, or getting “Bread” into the hands of hungry new believers, ICC, today, is active in China. With your help we can continue to support what may very well be the largest revival on earth today. Ryan Morgan has authored all articles in this issue.

2

You can help today! www.persecution.org


N OT E F RO M T H E P R E S I D E N T:

Ruth has been imprisoned for two years in China for publishing Christian materials. She is determined to use her time in prison for God. A fellow inmate that was recently released said she only saw her unhappy three times! Beaming with constant joy in the midst of a situation that breaks most has opened the hearts of Ruth’s fellow prisoners. Ruth has composed over 30 Christian songs since her imprisonment, which she has taught to those around her. Her husband is caring for their son alone. He says, “Compared to what Christians have suffered throughout history, we consider this almost nothing. If you want to work for God, this is quite reasonable.” If you are like me, I’m sure you are struck to the core. I am not like Ruth; I have the “spiritual gift” of grumbling and have also been blessed with a great ability to feel sorry for myself at the slightest discomfort. I’ve always thought that the persecuted are God’s gift to the Church in the West: they are like a mirror held up to our face. We look and say, “If that is a Christian then

Jeff King, President International Christian Concern

what am I?” This is part of why we serve this amazing group of believers around the world. Dedicated, selfless, full of love and joy, they point us in the way we should go and live. They have abandoned the world and are “allin” with God. I desperately, desperately need their example! Would you please join me in serving them? These believers are the wellspring of Church growth and vibrancy around the world and are worthy of your time, treasure, and talent. I promise!

You can help today! 800-ICC-5441

3


SOUTH CH EA I NS A T ASIA

SAVED BY A

HEARTBEAT A leader in China’s house church movment, Mr. Song, recently met with ICC in China and shared his remarkable testimony.

4

You can help today! www.persecution.org


IT WAS AN INNOCENT ENOUGH COMMENT THAT DID IT. It was 1970 in Beijing when Mr. Song remarked to a trusted friend, “You know, I love Mao, Mao is a good man, but many of the things he says sound like he’s god. Surely Mao isn’t god is he?” Two days later Mr. Song was arrested and denounced as an anti-revolutionary. His friend had betrayed him, and for the audacity of suggesting that Mao was not god, Mr. Song was now an enemy of the state. Born in Shanghai in 1937, Mr. Song still remembers a China before Communism. As a small boy, his mother would take him to church on Sunday mornings, and even though he understood little, he knew there was something special about the place that warmed his heart. Everything changed, though, in 1949, when Mao Tse-Tung swept to power and the Communist Party consolidated its grip across what was then already the world’s largest population. Mr. Song says that the propaganda of the party was very good. He found himself as a young man caught up in the fervor of a nation and soon joined the Communist Party. Mr. Song was a very bright student, studying aerodynamics and mathematics at the University of Beijing. In 1960, at the age of 24, Mr. Song graduated and joined the air force, becoming an instructor of aerodynamics for fighter pilots. He soon found though that his intelligence and natural curiosity were not welcome traits as the Communist Party sought a “total transformation of the mind.” Things got worse in 1966 when Mao launched the infamous “Cultural Revolution” in a massive attempt to purge anyone at any level of power who opposed his rule. Mass imprisonment and repression soon followed. Mr. Song says that during the Cultural Revolution, “there was no law; anyone could be accused of opposing Mao and quickly be executed.” Soon enough, even Mr. Song, a young ardent Communist, would find himself face-to-face with the wrath of Mao’s revolution.

You can help today! 800-ICC-5441

5


SOUTC HH EA I NSAT A S I A

For suggesting that Mao was not god, Mr. Song was beaten and then locked away in a dorm room at his own college. At the time, in 1970, so many had been arrested and imprisoned that the Communists were converting every space into prisons. Schools, hospitals, and even the dormitories of Mr. Song’s university had become massive prisons to house all of the so-called “dissidents.” He knew that what was to come would not be easy. Torture and public humiliation would soon follow. In a culture where saving face is of the utmost importance, it wreaked havoc on the psyches of those subjected to the State’s oppression. Mr. Song says that of the 70 fellow classmates and professors he knew arrested at his school, 40 would commit suicide before the end of the Cultural Revolution.

THE RE WA S N O L AW; ANYON E CO ULD B E ACCU SED OF O P P O SIN G MAO AN D Q UI C KLY BE EXECU T ED. M R. SO NG, ON THE C ULTUR AL R E VO LUTION

Each morning Mr. Song was awakened early and forced to kneel with others in front of a portrait of Mao. The guards would stand behind them and kick them repeatedly, forcing them to “repent and beg for forgiveness from the Chairman.” Each prisoner was also forced to repeatedly write extensive and harsh self-criticisms, highlighting all the ways in which they had not yet perfected their devotion to Mao. Yet through all this, Mr. Song clung to hope. He says even then in the midst of something like hell, he believed that life was so precious that even the worst life was better than the best death. 6

You can help today! www.persecution.org


One morning, he and other prisoners were marched onto a stage in the school auditorium. With two guards positioned behind him, Mr. Song was forced into an extremely uncomfortable position. The guards yanked his arms straight up behind him and shoved his head back down, forcing “THAT’S MY DADDY!” him to bend forward and stare at the ground. A sign was hung around his SHOCKED AN D neck declaring, “This man refused HO RRI FIED, MR. SON G to worship Chairman Mao!” In this SAW OFFIC ALS H AD humiliating position, a crowd of BRO UG H T H IS T WO former students and fellow teachers were assembled who began to YO UNG BOYS TO WIT N ESS scream insults and hurl accusations HI S TORT U RE. at each prisoner, moving from one to the next. When his turn came, Mr. Song heard the usual hate-filled screams of “anti-revolutionary!” and “traitor!” Someone yelled, “We want to see the enemy’s face!” so a guard reached over with a free hand and grabbed Mr. Song’s hair, yanking it back so that his face could be seen by the crowd. Just as the guard did this, Mr. Song heard a small child’s voice scream out from the front row. “That’s my daddy, that’s my daddy! I want my daddy!” Shocked and horrified, Mr. Song saw for the first time that officials had brought his wife and two young boys to witness his torture. They hadn’t recognized him and he hadn’t known they were there until the guard had pulled his hair back, exposing his face to the auditorium. For the first time, hot tears streamed down Mr. Song’s face and in the emotional maelstrom that blew through his soul, he came to the conclusion that it was time to take his own life. The next day, Mr. Song returned to his room convinced that life was now meaningless and began walking towards the third floor window. A voice beside him spoke up, “Don’t worry about [your family], go ahead, you have no reason left to live.” Remembering what one of his former students You can help today! 800-ICC-5441

7


SOUTH CH EA I NS A T ASIA

had done, Mr. Song knew he would open the window quickly and throw himself backwards, and headfirst, towards the earth below. He couldn’t hesitate, as suicide had been declared one of the most traitorous possible acts by Mao. If he were stopped or seen attempting it he might be slowly tortured and executed. With each step towards the window his adrenaline surged and he could audibly hear the wildly thumping beat of his own heart. On the very last step before launching himself into the air, his heartbeat suddenly changed. With astonishment, Mr. Song heard the sound of his heartbeat come up through his consciousness as clearly as if his heart were speaking; the sound rang out two Chinese words, “Bu Dong!” [meaning “Don’t move!”]. Mr. Song says he froze in his tracks, uncertain of what had just happened. Jumping back from W I T H E AC H STE P the window, Mr. Song’s mind TOWAR D S T H E W I NDOW raced for an answer. Memories of [ W I T H T HE I N T E NTI O N TO going to church with his mother JU M P TO HI S D E ATH], HI S in Shanghai flooded in and the A D R E N AL I N E SURGE D thought occurred to him, “Could A ND H E COUL D AUDI BLY this be a message from God?” H EAR T HE P RONO UNC E D For the first time in 20 years, B E ATS OF HI S OWN Mr. Song knelt down and began to pray. “Lord, if this message if HE ART. from you, if you still remember me after all these years, then how great is your love? Surely it’s greater than anything else in the world. If this message is from you, come into my heart today.” At that, Mr. Song says he was filled with such complete joy that he began to shout. Every feeling of depression left and peace swelled inside his heart. Looking out the window he saw a clear blue sky and suddenly knew that his future was secure in Christ. He began to laugh and soon the guards stormed into 8

You can help today! www.persecution.org


his room and started to kick him, but he couldn’t stop laughing. He simply apologized to them and said, “I’m sorry, I just feel so happy.” Eventually, Mr. Song would be delivered from his prison and restored to a teaching position at a prominent university.

NO O N E C AN STOP GO D’S WORK. -MR. SON G

A few years after the Cultural Revolution ended, he was able to join a house church. His life in Jesus has truly never been the same. He would experience other miracles, like when he stood among the protestors on Tiananmen Square the night of June 3, 1989, and a still, small voice spoke to him saying, “My son, its time for you to leave, you must go home now.” Mr. Song obeyed and just a few hours later, hundreds would be massacred as the government rolled tanks in to crush the protests. Today, nearing 80, Mr. Song considers himself nothing more than the Lord’s servant. He has for years, at great risk to himself, been very active in the house church movement. He joyfully, and without fear, arranged meetings with contacts and victims of persecution for ICC. With delight he talks about the astounding growth of Christianity in China and says that if anything, persecution is the very root of the explosive growth of the Church in China. With a smile and a confidence that could only come from a lifetime of watching God work miracles in the direst of circumstances, Mr. Song tells ICC, “No one can stop God’s work.”

You can help today! 800-ICC-5441

9


YOU CAN HELP TODAY! SEND DONATIONS TO: ICC PO BOX 8056 SILVER SPRING, MD 20907 OR ONLINE AT WWW.PERSECUTION.ORG

GIVING TO ICC VIA YOUR WILL Provide now for a future gift to ICC by including a bequest provision in your will or revocable trust. If you would like more information on giving to ICC in this way, please give us a call at 1-800-ICC-5441.

ICC makes every effort to honor donor wishes in regards to their gifts. Occasionally, a situation will arise where a project is no longer viable. In that case, ICC will redirect those donated project funds to one of our other funds that is most similar to the donor’s original wishes.

@persecutionnews

#10988 www.facebook.com/persecuted International Christian Concern is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) (all donations tax-deductible). © Copyright 2013 ICC, Washington, D.C., USA. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce all or part of this publication is granted provided attribution is given to ICC as the source.


Persecution Magazine, September 2013 1/4