A ‘sinicization plan’
Pastor Juncai and the secret demolition of Central House Church are just two of the most recent examples of the CCP’s continuous crackdown on Christianity in China. Numbers vary but some reports indicate thousands of house churches have been shut down or demolished in China.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, which Christians believe will worsen conditions. “We anticipate the government will exert even stronger control over all aspects of society for the sake of stability,” Caleb says. “Local churches will have to stay very low-profile and be more adaptive and creative in the way they do meetings and ministries.”
Open Doors CEO David Curry notes the government’s “sinicization” plan to infuse sectors of society with more cultural and party alignment. “The government is trying to force out unregistered churches. Those churches that are registered, they approve sermons, these kinds of things, slowly turning up the heat and making it a ‘Chinese’ church, not a church of Jesus.”
Julie*, a long-term Open Doors worker and project manager, has witnessed the Chinese government attempt to snuff out the church for three decades. She offers perspective.
“Control of the church has long been high on the political agenda, even though believers are not really interested in politics other than to pray for the country’s leaders. Since 2017, the government has been closing some large churches, monitoring and putting pressure on pastors to limit church growth, and an increasing number of believers meet in small groups.
But she believes this new season of control and fear-mongering can be a catalyst for both growth and hope: “I believe this overwhelming crisis is also an opportunity for the Chinese church to springboard to a new season of revival.
“Now that increasing number of believers meet in small groups, the training of small group leaders who can disciple others has become crucial. It’s like God is re-calibrating the foundations of the church to prepare for a new season of growth.”
It is against this backdrop that Open Doors has moved quickly to strengthen the persecuted church through persecution preparedness training, small group discipleship training, youth ministry and youth leadership training, and presence ministry.
Your prayers and support are helping Open Doors provide this practical training to equip believers in China as they prepare for rising persecution. Peony*, the director of Open Doors’ work in China, says, “It is vital that we stand with Chinese believers during this difficult season, to encourage them and strengthen their faith.”
Caleb*, an Open Doors worker, adds, “It is our mission to help the churches rediscover their precious spiritual heritage. We want to see Christians in China stand firm and strong under persecution through God’s grace and power. We want to see a vibrant, persevering church that will not bow to the enemy’s schemes. This is our dream.”
Chinese churches have responded by asking the Open Doors community to journey with them.
“This is an awakening! Thank you so much for this great learning opportunity,” one sister shared after attending training from Open Doors. Her husband had been imprisoned for distributing Bibles in the past, and she experienced persecution on many occasions. “I used to experience a lot of persecution. While my life has become stable, my spirit has become less alert. This training is very timely. It’s time for us to prepare, as persecution is escalating in different areas in China. I will pass on my learning to other brothers and sisters.”