Chinese Christians face threats, arrests

SICHAUN PROVINCE, China — As China continues to hunt down and arrest members of a house church in Sichuan Province, many of the 100 or more Christians arrested reportedly pledged in advance to persevere even until death.

Gina Goh, Southeast Asia regional manager for International Christian Concern, said many leaders of Autumn Rain Covenant Church counted the cost and pledged faithfulness in advance of arrests at homes, workplaces and on the streets that have continued since Dec. 9, 2018.

“I think a lesson we can learn from them is they continue to say that, ‘No matter what may come, we will continue to serve the Lord. We will continue to stand strong in our faith,’” Goh said.

Those arrested are being beaten, tortured and denied food and restroom accommodations, Goh said, according to accounts and photos from four believers released on house arrest or police surveillance. Among abuse, Christians were dragged, stepped on and tied to chairs and had handfuls of hair pulled from their scalp. 

The continuing arrests are the latest in government persecution of Christians that has escalated under President Xi Jinping’s ramped up efforts to “Sinicize” religion, bypassing religious freedom that is guaranteed in the country’s constitution.

Xi’s religious restrictions enacted in 2017 and tightened in February are preempting China’s constitution.

“They basically want to crack down on (Autumn Rain) to serve as an example to smaller churches,” Goh said. Autumn Rain has several locations that comprise a membership of a thousand or more, she estimated.

The international community should continue to advocate for religious freedom in China, Goh said. And individual Christians, she noted, should support American missionaries trying to help and encourage those persecuted. (BP)