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News-Worthy Persecution

I had a conversation with a friend from China today. He wanted to help me with a story of religious persecution, but he was hesitant: he hadn’t been questioned, detained, imprisoned, or beaten for his faith. What could he say about persecution? 

So instead of asking for some big, news-worthy story of dramatic persecution, I asked him about what he has learned about persecution through his experiences. This was his list. Maybe these aren’t dramatic, but these are stories. Stories from a brother in Christ blessed to grow up in the Chinese church. 

Five things my friend has learned about religious persecution in China

1. Religious restrictions are taking on a younger and younger look in China. My friend told me that his home church was not allowed to host their annual VBS program this past summer, because of the growing concern about second- and third-generation Christians. And it’s not just VBS: try ordering Christian kids’ books online and you might find certain titles no longer available. Even if you can order them, that package may never arrive.  

2. Persecution in China comes from all directions. It is comprehensive. You have probably seen the stories of police showing up at the church building to keep the congregation from gathering and worshipping. But there’s also pressure from bosses at the companies where people work, or at the schools their kids attend. The ramifications of engaging in Christian ministry don’t stop with just you, either: your spouse and your kids will be affected. Even renting an apartment can become quite difficult. The scope of persecution isn’t always just deep; it’s often quite broad.

Lawyers are increasingly unwilling to defend churches.

3. New laws and regulations are making religious persecution in China easier and more warranted. For example, many churches are now required to provide their financial records to governing authorities. That means the government has easier access to knowing who is supporting the church financially, giving them easy targets for pressure. But it also means that churches who have registered as businesses, so they could rent meeting spaces and otherwise function, are being found out. With more stringent laws and regulations in place, lawyers are increasingly unwilling to defend churches. 

4. Not only are surveillance cameras and facial recognition technology increasingly prevalent in the physical public square in China, surveillance is increasing in the realm of digital and social media as well. Groups of more than fifteen (or even five) people on a digital platform have to be especially careful or risk being filtered or shut down. Particularly sensitive topics include politics, social issues, and current events. (And keep in mind, religion in China always has political implications.) 

Weddings get shut down, Christmas parties are cancelled, and Easter celebrations halted.

5. A lot of activities get shut down in China. Western news will highlight stories of large churches being forced to close and stop meeting together, but this trend is not limited to the extreme examples. I already mentioned my friend’s church not being allowed to host VBS this year. In addition, weddings get shut down, Christmas parties are cancelled, and Easter celebrations halted. Church picnics in the local park are a no-go in China more often than not. In this season, the spaces in which religious activities take place are being squeezed even more tightly. 

Listening to my friend share these insights, it struck me that he didn’t think he had any real stories of persecution to share. When the threshold is detention, torture, or death, these are minor things by comparison. But every point he made reminded me that trying to limit and restrict Christians from being the church is persecution. 

Yet we know that the Almighty God is greater

The truth is, the Chinese government is cracking down on Christianity with new severity, and “regular” Christians are facing the challenge of being the church in a difficult environment.  Yet we know that the Almighty God is greater than any authority in Heaven and on earth, and so we can pray with and for our Chinese brothers and sisters.


Almighty God, we pray for Chinese Christians to stand strong during tightening religious regulations. We ask You to help them to find courage, strength, wisdom, and comfort from above, so that when the government is:

  • removing Bibles from online stores, may You preserve Your words in their hearts.

  • removing Christian objects from buildings, may You keep our faith solely on You.

  • shutting hundreds of church buildings down, may You open up more opportunities to reach out to the unchurched and keep gathering no matter what. 

  • forcing Christian icons to include the images of the Communist Party, may You help us to stand strong. Show us the falsehood of our idols, and remove their grip from our hearts.

We also pray for Christians all over the world. May we remember each other in Christ, care for each other with love, and bear each other’s burdens with prayer and support. In Jesus’ name, amen.


For more articles in this series on 'What I've learned about religious persecution" follow this link!
This article was published anonymously to protect the identities of those involved.
Image by Joshua Tee from Pixabay 

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