It was mid-October. The phone rang and the familiar voice of a beloved brother in Christ was calling from an inland province to inform me that the local PSB (Public Security Bureau) had suddenly appeared to arbitrarily demolish the believer’s meeting place.
“Can you come tomorrow to be with us, for they will surely return to see if they have succeeded in their intimidation of us and to see if we will continue our meetings? No doubt, they will arrest me also!”
Amid the spectacular growth in the market and economy, China claims to have granted freedom of religion, but freedom to choose, freedom of assembly, freedom of faith, and freedom to evangelize, she has not! To the contrary, China’s rulers have resolutely and forcibly prohibited these freedoms.
Without hesitation, I answered this brother’s call to be with them in their trial. (Did I have any other alternative? It is a serious responsibility that can never be taken lightly when once you have seen good men brutally beaten for their faith!)
The meetings went ahead and we were all once again arrested amid a very large show of police force. Again, we were threatened with more serious reprisals unless all such unregistered church activity ceased.
Such is the way of life for believers in China today. When the triumphant Mao Zedong stood upon the rostrum above the gate of Heavenly Peace at Tiananmen in Beijing on October 1, 1949, he justifiably said, “the Chinese people have stood up.” He of course meant that from abject poverty, internal repression, civil war, feudalism, and the high possibility of foreign “carving-up” of China into foreign concessions, the Chinese nation had stood up for itself. This national fact has continued until today.
The Chinese have certainly stood up and continue to do so. (Perhaps this encouragement to “stand up” will eventually come back to haunt the Communist Party!) Fifty years ago when Chairman Mao announced The People’s Republic of China, led and unified by communism, the people then had faith in the communist party and the future.
Today, 50 years later, China has some material prosperity, but little faith in the Communist Party, in themselves, in their jobs, or in their future. The nation is facing a crisis of faith. “Crisis” in Chinese, “ngai gei,” is a combination of two written characters meaning “dangerous opportunity” “To get rich is glorious” was the stated desire and goal for all, said the late Deng Xiaoping, but many have found it to be a very numbing experience. Communism and its concordant atheism remain the state religion still, but it has failed to meet the heart’s deep needs. Millions are seeking an answer as to the nation and themselves. Many Chinese are now looking to Buddhism, Taoism, and other ways of worship, including brand new religions to quench the thirst that materialism and all the “cokes in the world will never quench.”
China is very fertile ground for seed sowing at this moment in time and we are very thankful to have a part in the wonderful quest for truth and God as we step into the new Century and millennium in China today.