CHINA

The church is the largest social force in China not controlled by the Communist Party

China

World Watch List Rank World Watch List Score
39 57/100
Leader Population
President Xi Jinping 1.37 billion (85 million Christians)
Main Religion Government
Atheism Socialism
Source of Persecution Persecution Level
Communist oppression High Persecution

As a result, there are increasing efforts to restrict the way Christians operate. A considerable number of Christians are still imprisoned. Violence is at a very high level and is increasing. Church meetings continue to be disrupted in several provinces. Churches were also closed and landlords pressured to stop renting premises to Christians. Believers from a Tibetan Buddhist or Muslim Uyghur background experience persecution from families, communities and religious leaders.

PERSECUTION IN CHINA

"There was a woman in my church who was kidnapped by her family when they found out she converted. They took her back to her home village and broke her legs so she could not escape and then tried to force her to be a Muslim again."

These are the words of Na*, a Christian leader from the Hui people group in China. Originally from a Muslim family, as most Hui are, she came to Christ 14 years ago. In Na's region, anyone who leaves Islam is seen as a traitor and they are told that they have brought great shame and dishonour to their family. As a result, some Christian converts have been kidnapped or threatened with honour killings. In spite of the enormous risk, many Hui people are becoming Christians. "It is amazing how the gospel message touches the hearts of the Hui people," says Na. "Many are giving up everything to follow Christ."

The story for Christians in China varies hugely depending on the region. There has been a significant change for the better for Han Chinese, but other Chinese Christians from minority ethnic groups such as the Uyghur and Hui groups, often Muslim Background Believers, face a great amount of persecution.

Pastor Askar* is a Uyghur from the Xinjiang province in the northwestern part of China, bordering countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. In recent years, Islamic extremism has taken root in this region and last year the situation deteriorated rapidly. There have been violent attacks, including the slaying of innocent people by sword at subway stations. The rest of the nation has become fearful of the Uyghur because of these attacks and has ostracised them. The local government is fearful of any religious gatherings. For this reason, Pastor Askar and his church are forced to meet in secret. If he and his congregants are caught meeting together, they could face several years in prison so they exercise extreme caution. "In the summer," he says, "we wait until midnight so nobody will see us, and then we go to the lake to baptise a new believer. But in the winter, it is too cold to do that, so I baptise new believers with a water bottle inside."The same applies to the even smaller group of Christian converts from a Tibetan Buddhist background. They can only meet in very small groups, as they face great persecution from other Tibetans if their faith is discovered.For Han Chinese churches, the police in most cases refrain from violence, but invite church leaders to 'have tea'. This is a euphemism for clarifying rules and limits of religious acts and meetings and is a very effective means in order to establish a 'harmonious society'. What do they ask? Pastor Wei says, "Things like 'Who are the leaders in your church?' and 'Are any foreigners involved in your church?' I am cautioned not to let my church grow too much. The Head of Police and I have actually become friends, and yesterday, I shared my testimony with him about how I started to believe in the Lord Jesus."

* Name changed for security reasons

HOW WE HELP

Open Doors is challenging the Han Chinese church to play their part in engaging the world with the persecuted church and take up her role in the worldwide body of Christ, too. Within China, the Han Chinese church is encouraged to support the most persecuted Christian groups in China, specifically Muslim and Tibetan-background believers. Open Doors supports the church in China through:

  • Raising awareness of persecution among Chinese Christians
  • Providing basic biblical and discipleship training to the most persecuted Christian groups, Muslim and Tibetan-background believers
  • Distributing contextualised Christian literature to Muslim and Tibetan-background believers.

RECENT STORIES FROM China

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PRAYER POINTS FOR CHINA

  • Among the 85 million Christians in China, there are only a few thousand Muslim background believers (MBBs).  The few thousand MBBs living in western China are of the most persecuted groups in China. Please pray for strength and protection for them.
  • The government imposes tight control in western China region in order to defend from terrorist attacks and reiterate its position of anti-Islamic extremism. Participation in religious activities can be misconstrued as a result.
  • These MBB’s also face persecution from their own family, friends, and neighbours.  Conversion to Christianity is seen as a disgrace to a Muslim family and treason to the community. If Christians are discovered, they run the risk of being disowned by their families and thrown out of their homes.
  • Pray for Open Doors in China as we work to strengthen the faith of these most persecuted MBB’s by providing persecution related training and Christian materials.  We also connect isolated MBBs to Christian groups in China so they might gain encouragement and spiritual support.
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TAKE ACTION

  • Pray for those that are suffering by reading the latest prayer requests from persecuted Christians around the world.
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