Saturday, September 20, 2008
Chinese house church leaders re-define 'normal'
China-Carl Moeller of Open Doors said the situation in China is just as complex as it's ever been after his recent return from the country. Upon asking Chinese house church leaders how the Olympics had affected their situation, he was taken aback by their response when they said "normal."Moeller explainied, "Of course the government has brought many of us in to be questioned on our activities during the course of this time in the last few months, and this is normal. And of course some of our dear friends and some of our mutual friends in the area are in hiding, or even under arrest right now because of the situation.But again, they say 'this is normal.'"Now and in the past, Moeller has called for the Chinese government to start "accounting" for the amount of persecution that believers are facing.In late July, the U.S. Commission on International Freedom filed a report that stated that more than 700 unregistered Protestant leaders were placed in police custody in the last year.Churches who refuse to register with the government do so to avoid legal guidelines regarding the size of their gatherings, sermon topics and the appointment of clergy.The most notable arrest was made on July 18th when plainclothed officers arrested Pator Zhang "Bike" Mixuan and his wife from his home in Beijing so that he wouldn't be able to visit foreign officials who would be in country for the Olympics. Zhang was prohibited from visiting Beijing until August 29th when he was released.The Olympics were an exciting time for the Chinese who were proud to present their beautiful country."Believers also felt very proud, and rightfully so, of the way their nation was presented in the world's eyes. But they're also quite concerned about the increasing and ongoing pressure that Christians face there," said Moeller.Before the Olympics there was a sort of cleansing of Beijing as the games drew near. As a result, there are a lot of churches whose old leaders are no longer involved. That could push the church in one of two directions. Moeller explains:"It can have a chilling effect and a fear-inducing effect on the church,or-and perhaps more likely, according to the leaders there in Beijing-it will surface new leaders in the church and raise up an entirely new and fresh generation."There is still hope and a positive tone, despite the hardships house church leaders are facing.They are a powerful testimony to Christian joy and perseverance, Moeller said. He asks that people pray for the all the churches of China as they reach out to an intellectual and actively seeking culture. Pray for the Three-Self church of China, that they'd be more open to the house church movement.
As in the days of Noah...