Many Christians in China attend an officially registered church and
an illegal house church, but there are even incidents of the government-approved Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) churches permitting unregistered house churches to meet in their building! But not very often! The illegal house-church movement has about 100 million worshippers nationwide, experts agree, and the registered churches have about 15 million! The outstanding success of the unregistered churches is one reason for resentment and suspicion between house churches and state-controlled congregations.
Sadly, there have been many cases of TSPM pastors who have turned in their pastor/brethren across town who served in illegal churches! WORLD
magazine reported that "government crackdowns on local house-church networks often begins after a registered church official complains to local authorities about the underground worship activity." What a tragedy, but that only shows what envy and jealousy produce.
Not only do unregistered church pastors get pressure from the Communist officials and TSPM pastors but evangelicals in the Free World are pressuring them to not be so "hard headed," telling them to join the registered churches! It is said that the TSPM is not as bad as it used to be and Chinese Christians, especially the older ones, have been influenced too much by American hard-liners–Fundamentalists! Gasp! It seems Fundamentalists are the cause of leprosy, sun spots, and arthritis!
But the issue is not how bad the movement is or how corrupt the officials are. The question always comes back to, who is head of the church. Is it possible to serve two masters? Can church leaders permit any government entity to control them and still be true to the Word of God? Is a little compromise acceptable?
suggested critics of the official, government-controlled church in China consider TSPM as a "caged bird." Is that what we are becoming in America? Have American pastors been locked into a cage called “tax deductibility”?
Thousands of China’s church leaders have been imprisoned in recent years, some for more than ten years. In November of 2003, Chinese officials closed 125 places of worship, affecting 3,000 Christians, and in March of 2004 more than 12 house churches were destroyed and over 300 Christians arrested and put on trial—secret trial. Another sign of a totalitarian regime. As of early 2013 at least one pastor is under a death sentence. Catholic churches are also controlled and have no contact or ties with the Vatican.
In September of 2004 32-year old Cai Zhuohua, leader of six unregistered churches in Beijing was arrested after the Chinese “Gestapo” found 200,000 Bibles in his warehouse. His wife, her brother and another relative were arrested earlier and are in prison. It is interesting that the government thugs did not charge them for illegal religious activities (for which they were obviously guilty) but for tax evasion and illegal business activities! The Bibles and religious literature were not to be sold but were given free to all. Hmmm, tax evasion and illegal business activities. Sounds familiar to me. Of course, thugs are thugs whether they are American or Chinese.
Samuel Lamb is a 70-year-old leader of an unregistered church in Canton who keeps a black case by his bed. It is packed with clothes and a toothbrush. He said, "If they want me to register, I just pick up the case and say, 'take me to jail, I'm ready….I will never register.' " In fact, these courageous leaders consider jail as their seminary training!
George Chen is almost 70 years old. After the 1949 Communist revolution, Chen's Christian work grew increasingly dangerous. He was jailed for religious activities in the 1950s, and in 1960, he was sentenced to hard labor at a prison in eastern China. His wife and son were still in Shanghai, and he saw little hope for survival. "They tried to make things really bad for me by putting me to work in the cesspool," Timothy Morgan, in a Christianity Today
article quotes Chen as saying. "I spent my days deep in human waste, turning it with a shovel to make compost. They thought I'd be miserable, but actually I was happy. It smelled so bad that no one would come near me, so I could pray and sing aloud all day." In 1978 Chen was finally released, and discovered that the churches he planted had grown from the original 300 members to 5,000! All that time in prison because he would not be controlled by the state!
And of which the world is not worthy!
(Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives, author of 15 books, frequent guest on television and radio talk shows, and wrote columns for USA Today
for 8 years. His shocking book, ISLAM: America's Trojan Horse!; Christian Resistance: An Idea Whose Time Has Come–Again!;
and The God Haters
are allavailable at Amazon.com. These columns go to newspapers, magazines, television, and radio stations and may be used without change from title through the end tag. His web sites are www.cstnews.com
. Contact Don for an interview or talk show.)
Copyright 2013, Don Boys, Ph.D.
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