We are certainly aware of the worldwide influence of Communist China, and it is a country that has become no friend of Bible-believing Christians. We hear and see reports of church buildings being destroyed, believers facing arrest, crosses being removed from some church buildings, the replacement of Biblical references with references exalting the country’s leader, and increased surveillance of believers which can lower their “social score” and limit some of their activities.
An article from ChristianHeadlines.com reports that:
“Throughout 2020, China ramped up its crackdown on Christians despite the pandemic. Last month, Release International, an international Christian watchdog organization for persecuted Christians worldwide, predicted that China will be among other countries who will increase persecution against Christians in 2021.”
“According to Open Doors USA, China is ranked number 17 on its list of countries where it is most difficult for Christians to live.”Christianheadlines.com
A Christian Post article from January of last year made reference to a “social score system that grades its citizens based on their actions and the government’s creation of a network of surveillance cameras that have been put on street corners and in churches,” based on comments from Open Doors USA President and CEO David Curry, who said, “Imagine a system where citizens are given 2,000 points and every time you do something they government disagrees with, you are marked down for it,” adding, “Eventually, your travel is restricted, your children won’t get into the best schools. You lose points for taking your children to Sunday School. That is what the experience is like for many Christians in China.”
Curry mentions facial scan technology that is being used for monitoring. He says that, regarding “artificial intelligence and surveillance,” in 2020, leaders in China were “merging the social scoring system and surveillance and artificial intelligence to give them the tools and the power to oppress the people.”
There are predictions, though, that attempts to “mute” the body of Christ in this large nation are actually having the opposite effect. The Church in China continues to grow, and a leader in the Open Doors organization, that advocates for the persecuted church, is offering some incredible potential numbers. ChristianHeadlines.com reports that “Ron Boyd-MacMillan, director of Strategic Research of Open Doors recently predicted a surge in Christianity in China as the population of believers may increase to 300 million by the year 2030, The Christian Post reports.”The Christian Headlines article quotes statements Boyd-MacMillan made to Express UK:
“We think the evidence as to why the Chinese Church is so targeted, is that the leaders are scared of the size of the Church, and the growth of the Church,”Boyd-MacMillan
“And if it grows at the rate that it has done since 1980, and that’s about between 7 [percent] and 8 percent a year, then you’re looking at a group of people that will be 300 million strong, nearly by 2030,” Boyd-MacMillan continued.
He relates that the leaders in China have long-term plans, with an economic plan through 2049, you can presume that they are observing this amazing growth; Boyd-MacMillan says, “… this bothers them. Because I think if the Church continues to grow like that, then they’ll have to share power.”
But, in the face of this there is certainly reason for hope. The Voice of the Martyrs Global Prayer Guide found at its website states:
“Revival and rapid church growth have characterized China’s churches since the 1990s. About 130 million Chinese are Christians, most of whom worship in illegal house churches. Only about 30 million are affiliated with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) — which, as the only legal church, is controlled by the Communist government. Despite continuous pressure and oppression from the Communist government, house church leaders refuse to compromise the gospel by joining government-controlled churches. Because of decades of government oppression, few Chinese Christians have their own Bible or access to discipleship literature.”
“When we consider the future of the Church, we recognize that while government may turn up the heat, God continues to turn up His power. “
And, as James 1 relates to us, pressure results in perseverance. Jesus did not call us to complain about opposition, but to rejoice in it.
The Church is not weakened from without, but from within. So, we have to guard against the schemes of the enemy to divide us. We have to adopt the proper attitude toward our external circumstances and recognize that refusal to compromise can lead to greater impact. Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t speak out on the issues of the day and seek changes in policy that are consistent with a Christian worldview. But, we have to be pragmatic in recognizing that will not always be the case, and continue to seek God’s peace in discouragement.