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In China, They Beat Christians With Crowbars

In China, They Beat Christians With Crowbars

The Summer Olympic Games will focus a needed spotlight on the Chinese government’s abusive treatment of believers.

 

Next week the world will see everything that’s good about China: Its sleek buildings, its new wealth and its talented artists and athletes. What won’t be on display during broadcasts of the Olympic Games in Beijing are any signs of religion—or of China’s brutal record of persecution aimed at Christians and other people of faith.
 
Some diplomatically minded evangelicals think this is not the time to rock the boat about China’s shameful record of religious repression. Franklin Graham told reporters in China earlier this year that believers should refrain from talking about their faith throughout the athletic contest. He thinks that we can best help China’s church by muting any evangelism efforts aimed at reaching athletes or the Chinese people.
 
But Bob Fu, who once led an underground house church in China and now leads the China Aid Association from an office in Philadelphia, has called Graham’s suggestion “offensive and inappropriate.” He told Charisma recently: “When an unjust law demands [Chinese Christians] to go against their faith and Jesus’ teaching of the Great Commission, they cannot and will not concede to a ‘faith moratorium’ in order to please an atheistic government during the Olympic Games.”

 

It would be a disgrace for the world community to ignore China’s brutal record of religious oppression.

 

Fu is one of five Chinese activists who met with President Bush at the White House this week to discuss China’s policies. At first Fu did not think Bush’s planned visit to the Olympics in early August would be helpful, but he told The Washington Post on Tuesday that he is now encouraged because the president plans to raise issues of religious freedom while in Beijing.
 
The controversy over China’s record of religious persecution is set against the backdrop of a rapidly changing nation whose leaders aren’t sure what to do about the growth of Christianity. Just a few decades ago, the communist government carried out a vicious plan to purge the country of religion. Today the gospel has spread from rural areas—where the revival began—and it is now touching intellectuals, politicians and the wealthy.
 
Modern China is a confusing study in opposites. It promotes capitalism on one hand and represses Tibetan Buddhism, various cults, and Christianity—except for churches that are registered with the state (and theologically controlled by it). China publishes millions of Bibles, yet most of them are exported or distributed only to state-sponsored churches. Christians in some regions are still beaten or thrown in jail for their faith, yet young members of the Communist Party are converting to faith in Christ—and finding more freedom of religion.
 
In Charisma’s in-depth cover story on China’s church, which hit newsstands this week, Australian journalist Adrian Brookes reports that more open-minded policies are bringing new freedoms to the Chinese church. But his interviews with underground leaders also showed that persecution has certainly not ended:
 
* In Hunan province, where the government is strictly communist and poverty is widespread, Christian groups are small and persecution is a reality. Some Christians in rural areas of Hunan and Anhui provinces have suffered horribly in the last 12 months as China prepares for the Olympics. One veteran missionary to China, Paul Hattaway, said this period “has been the most difficult for them since the severe persecution of 1983.”
 
* In other regions, the government is changing the way it cracks down on unregistered Christian groups. At one time the Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) would raid church services and fine everyone. Now, the RAB is fining landlords who rent meeting space to churches.
 
* Things are changing fastest in the huge cities of China, where modernization has caused dizzying reforms. Christians who once feared being jailed say police now simply warn them to stop meeting. And during the recent earthquake in Sichuan province in May, there were reports that the government actually cooperated with churches in relief efforts—an unprecedented development.
 
* Dennis Balcombe, an American missionary who has worked in Hong Kong for 40 years, told Charisma that the government has actually become lax in its approach to Christians in Guangdong province. He said that police came and told leaders of one growing church that they should split their group in half so that it would not attract attention.
 
When I met with a group of 80 underground church leaders seven years ago in a secret conference near Guangzhou, I discovered that all of them had been jailed at least three times each. Many had been beaten with iron crowbars while others had been shocked with electric cattle prods in an effort to gain information about secret church groups. I met older leaders who had been confined in tiny concrete cells for as long as six months without a toilet.
 
And the sad truth is that this kind of brutal persecution still takes place today in many parts of China. Don’t let the fancy glass and steel stadiums built for the Olympics fool you. This is a government that still approves of beating Christians with crowbars.
 
I agree with Bob Fu that it would be a disgrace for the world community to ignore China’s brutal record of religious oppression. It would also be unforgivable for us to ask Chinese Christians to be quiet about their faith while their country is under global scrutiny during the games.
 
Because of their bravery in the face of martyrdom, Chinese Christians have set the standard for New Testament faith in our generation. Let’s pray for them during the month of August, and ask God that they will boldly declare the gospel no matter what laws Beijing has enacted to stop them.

 

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. You can join him on Tuesday evening, Aug. 5 at 8 p.m. EST for a live conference call about the persecuted church in China. Joining him on the call will be Todd Nettleton, national director of the Voice of the Martyrs organization, and Bob Fu, a former pastor in China who now works to raise awareness of religious persecution in his homeland. To sign up for the call click here.

The Iranian terror

The Iranian terror

Monday, 28th July 2008

 

I recently had the great pleasure of meeting Roya Hakakian, an Iranian Jew whose family was forced to flee the terror of the Iranian Revolution. Her book Journey from the Land of No, both a tender and loving memoir of her early life in Iran and a chilling chronicle of the events that led her family to flee to America, is a poignant elegy for an Iran whose civilised, cultured, pro-western people have had their freedom snuffed out by the tyrannical mullahs and their barbaric excesses. They are the victims of the Iranian Revolution which continues to enslave, torture and murder them; as I have observed before, the world’s abandonment of these brave people is obscene.

Iran has turned into a death factory against criminals and dissidents alike. Yesterday morning it hanged 29 people for drug smuggling and murder in what the Telegraph reported was the largest mass execution for years. According to Amnesty, last year it executed 317 people, more than anywhere other than China. A bill going through the Majlis would inflict the death penalty upon Iranian bloggers – one of the main windows through which the world can see a little of what is happening in Iran. Read here on Potkin Azarmehr’s blog, for example, not just of the impending execution of Iranian Kurdish teacher Fazad Kamangar but also the kidnap and torture of his 11 year-old nephew.

The writer Amil Imani has delivered this great cry of pain:

The Islamic Republic terror machine once again has taken off at the speed of light in Iran and exemplifies a depraved, clerical system of government, which legitimizes its depravity through a series of terror, fear and intimidation of Iranian people. With the additional handpicking of the newly selected members of the Islamic ‘Majles,’ the clergies have intensified their terror and war against the people of Iran and their insatiable appetite for another holocaust against the Jewish State, at all cost. The leaders of the Islamic Republic have gone completely mad.

The Islamic Republic has stationed revolutionary and militia troops to actively and deliberately prevent anyone from any demonstrations or objections against the totalitarian regime. They are planning to silence people by any means available to them. Parents who inquire at police headquarters about their arrested sons and daughters could be taken away or simply disappear. Students are tortured and, on many occasions, murdered for crimes they never committed. And yet, we see many western governments are engaging and heavily investing in the Islamic Republic where its survival depends upon shedding the blood of innocent Iranians.

In an earlier piece, Imani made this chilling prediction:

Many Europeans are fleeing their ancestral homeland ahead of the Islamic fire which is engulfing their countries. These are the affluent and the ones with foresight. Others are either oblivious to the threat, aim to accommodate it as the holy grail of multiculturalism, or will end up one day seeing themselves in the fight of their life. For Islam does not believe in multiculturalism. Islam is a mono-culturist: the barbarian culture of Islam. As Islam gains more power, it will inevitably impose itself and its ways on all others. And there will be those who will eventually wake up from their stupor, they will either completely capitulate or fight the Muslims back in bloody bock-by-block, street-by-street battles.

Why aren’t we listening to the voices of Iranian resistance against this monstrous threat that faces us all?

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