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Liao Yiwu, translated by Michael Martin Day, March 4, 2019 On December 9th, 2018, on the eve of International Human Rights Day, in my hometown of Chengdu, Sichuan, the most influential house church in China today, the Early Rain Covenant Church, was raided by the police and banned, and more than 100 believers were taken away. The chapel, seminary, and other church property funded by the congregants were seized and the property was immediately and illegally occupied, becoming the government office hall of the Double Eyes Well Community. The founders of the church, the husband-and-wife pair of Wang Yi (王怡) and Jiang Rong (蒋蓉), were both accused of “inciting subversion of state power”, arrested and have gone missing until this day, leaving their ten-year-old son, Wang […]


Pastor Wang Yi, December 24, 2018     In line with the teachings of the Bible and the mission of the gospel, I respect the leaders that God placed in power over China, because the coming and going of kings and leaders is all His hands. In this vein, I shall obey the arrangements God has made for Chinese history and its government. As a pastor of the Christian church, my starting point is the Bible, and I have my own understanding and views on society, politics, and law, as well as on the proper definitions of justice and benevolent governance. I abhor the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of the church, how it deprives people of their right to free faith. However, it is not […]


China Change, December 21, 2018     On Sunday evening, December 9, while worshiping with members, Wang Yi (王怡), the lead pastor of Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church was seized and taken away by police. The church was raided; books and other items were confiscated. In the same evening, police descended on homes of many members, demanding that they sign a pledge not to participate in “illegal gatherings of the Early Rain church” anymore. Over one hundred were taken away for refusing to sign. The church’s WeChat group was shut down, so were the personal accounts of many churchgoers. The authorities outlawed the church, the church’s elementary school and its divinity school. According to the latest report, 25 church members have been detained so far. […]


September 25, 2018     China Change, partnered with Humanitarian China, has compiled this 19-minute video presentation about the Chinese regime’s ongoing repression of churches, particularly in central China’s Henan Province (河南). Much of the footage is collected from social media, and we conducted a number of interviews with pastors inside and outside China to provide context and analysis. – The Editors   Related: Interview with a Wenzhou Pastor: The Chinese Government’s Large-Scale Destruction of Crosses in Zhejiang Province, July 29, 2015. Second Interview With the Wenzhou Pastor: After the Demolition Comes the ‘Transformations’, December 15, 2015. Living Stone: A Portrait of a House Church in China, December 21, 2015. The Shepherds of Living Stone Church, December 25, 2016.   Support Our Work At China […]


Yaxue Cao, March 21, 2018 Continued from The Might of an Ant: the Story of Lawyer Li Baiguang (1 of 2)     Rights Movement Spread All Over the Country By 2004, Zhao Yan and Li Baiguang were under constant threat. Fuzhou police told the village deputies that Zhao and Li were criminals, and demanded that the deputies expose the two. The Fujian municipal government also dispatched a special investigation team to the hometowns of Li and Zhao to look into their family backgrounds. A public security official in Fu’an said: “Don’t you worry that Zhao and Li are still on the lam — that’s because it’s not time for their date with the devil just yet. Just wait till that day comes: we’ll grab them, […]


Yaxue Cao, March 20, 2018     Li Baiguang (李柏光), a human rights lawyer, died on February 26, aged 49. Li Baiguang, born on October 1, 1968, was the youngest of seven children in a tiny mountain village household in Jiahe county, Chenzhou, Hunan. His father died when he was seven years old. The family was impoverished. When Li reached school age, his playmates went to school, but he had to stay home another year and help his mother with chores. One day, after he herded the ducks back home, Li went to the school, leant on the window, and saw his friends all studying. He returned home and told his mother through tears: “If you don’t let me go to school, I’ll hack our […]


China Change, March 25, 2017     When one of the two defense lawyers for Pastor Yang Hua (仰华) of the Living Stone house church in Guiyang traveled to the Nanming District Detention Center (贵阳市南明区看守所) to meet their client on March 20, he was surprised to see Yang almost carried into the meeting room by three sturdy cellmates. Yang Hua’s face showed he was full of pain, seemingly on the verge of paralysis. The lawyer discovered that, three days previously, Yang’s legs suddenly became inflamed and ulcerated, and the festering was spreading fast, with the burning pain keeping him up at night. The physician on duty at the detention center treated it as nothing more than a superficial skin infection and administered painkillers. Yang’s condition […]


Yaxue Cao, December 25, 2016     On December 9, 2015, after dropping their two sons off at school, Pastor Yang Hua (仰华) and his wife Wang Hongwu (王洪雾) of the Living Stone house church (活石教会) in Guiyang, made their way to the 24th story of Guiyang International Center, which hosts the main hall of their congregation. At the same time every Wednesday, at three different church locations, Living Stone congregants hold a prayer service. A few days prior, government Neighborhood Committees and police stations dispatched personnel to go door-by-door to the homes of hundreds of Living Stone church members, warning them against attending the Wednesday service. “We’ll arrest whoever goes,” they were told. Needless to say, the authorities had the home addresses, workplaces, telephone […]


As you’ve likely already heard, thousands of doomsday predictors have been arrested throughout China as part of the “evil cult” Eastern Lightning. Unfortunately many Chinese Christians are willing to dismiss them as a cult and agree with their treatment, but these arrests should concern everyone advocating for human rights in China and especially those concerned with religious freedom and yet there has been little discussion of this within the Western Media. Within this story are several important issues worth taking a moment to consider. While Eastern Lightning meets many of the sociological definitions of a cult by urging members to cut off ties to their non-believing family members and friends, unquestioning faith in their charismatic leader, and exerting coercive pressure on those who try to […]


In my visits to rural villages in China I have been impressed by the ability of local churches to identify needs, and design projects to meet them. Often these projects rely solely on volunteers and donations from believers. Today I want to share a few examples of projects undertaken by Chinese churches and the impact they are having on their communities. It is worth noting that these are initiatives begun by local TSPM churches, and represent just a small amount of the “good fruit*” that seems abundant in many of the churches I have visited. Hospice and Counseling One of the churches we visited had created a hospice program which met with terminally ill patients. Some of these patients were Christian, but many were not. The […]


Continued from yesterday My pleasant chat with the happy rural Christians was almost the complete opposite from my chat with one of the ministers of that province’s Christian Council (the governing branch of the officially recognized church). Perhaps that was because she could speak English, and wasn’t constrained by the officials that had come along with us; perhaps it was because she’d been pushed too far. In the city where she worked, the gov’t had big plans for the downtown areas, and the plans required the bulldozing of a historic church and a Bible training center. While the groups were being more than fairly compensated for the land, this minister was adamant that gov’t should not interfere with the church and that these place were […]


A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit a very small village. The villagers there told me this story of how they converted to Christianity and I thought it was an interesting account that gave a glimpse of their relationship with God and a few of the practical challenges of being a rural Christian. The following is a fairly close retelling of what I overheard from their congregation- Villager #1 – Before we became Christians, our village was known for quarreling with our neighbors. Outsiders said that you could hear us fighting even before you entered. Neighbors would fight from sun up to sun down. We were really terrible then (congregation nods in agreement). Another villager later told us that she had been […]


Liao Yiwu’s book, God Is Red, is one of the best I have ever read. Liao Yiwu’s work concerning Tian’anmen Square cost him 4-years in prison. His work with the currently imprisoned Nobel prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, caused further restrictions on his freedom in China and led to regular visits from the police. He was told that the publishing of God is Red would be considered a criminal offense. On July 2nd, 2011, he crossed the border into Vietnam, knowing that he would have to sacrifice his connection with his homeland in order to tell the stories of the people who lived there. It started a few years earlier while Liao was working on other projects. He met a number of Chinese Christians and became interested in their […]


The China Quarterly recently released it’s top ten most downloaded articles for free. Over the next few weeks I’ll summarize and comment on a few of these great articles (and save you 20+ pages of reading). Belief in Control: Regulation of Religion in China By: Pittman B. Potter (link to full text) Tom’s Summary: Throughout China’s history, religion has been a source of opposition against imperial forces. Historically, religions that did not comply with current practices of the state were suppressed, which was exemplified by the Party’s efforts to destroy all types of identifiable religious practices under Mao. In the post-Mao era the Party has maintained the view that religion is something that has the potential to undermine their authority and have sought to regulate […]


Last week we looked at many of the misunderstandings about Christianity in China (1, 2,3, 4), so today I thought we would wrap up by looking at mission in China just before the fall of the last emperor. The era we will be looking at though is not the start of Christianity in China, which first arrived around the 8th century. The following dynasties seemed to fluctuate between banning the practices, embracing them, or just flat out ignoring them. Matteo Ricci was the most successful of the early missionaries to China. In 1601 he was the first westerner to ever enter the Forbidden City, but it was the scientific knowledge he possessed that most interested the court. His efforts to understand Chinese culture, and adapt […]


Over the past three days the posts I’ve been writing have emphasized the fact that many of the bad things we hear about government interference in religion in China are overstated. That does not mean though that life for Chinese Christians is completely free of gov’t interference. When I first arrived in Longzhou the local church had been shut down for 3 months. The reason for this was that the pastor had left for training in Nanning, and the lack of a leader had led to some small problems in the already small congregation. The local department of religious affairs stepped in and closed the doors. To me it seemed like something that could have been solved in a few days of negotiations, as the church […]


This morning as I sat down for my morning reading session (check suggested sites for a partial list), I came across two more articles full of misinformation about Christianity in China. One took the experiences of a foreign Mormon in China as representative of what happens to Chinese Christians (Mormonism is not recognized by the gov’t, so it faces more restrictions). So today I thought I would share with you some of the activities I have taken part in without any problems from the gov’t, and give a few examples of how they can cause trouble for the foreigners involved. Note: These restrictions DO NOT apply to Chinese Christians Pray During my first year in China I had a student approach me asking to pray […]


Religion in China, and especially Christianity in China is one of the topics I am asked about most frequently when I return to the States. People ask if there are Bibles here, or if I worry about my safety because I work for a Christian organization, or if it is even legal to believe in God. The confusion is understandable, China was an enemy of the US for about 30 years, during a time of considerable propaganda efforts and fear mongering. So today we are going to begin a series on Christianity in China, and then look at religion in general as it exists in modern China. Are there Bibles in China? Believe it or not, China has plenty of Bibles. The Amity Printing Press […]


Christmas in China is a really funny thing. Let’s call it 奇怪(qi-guai), a word that means “strange” but without any negative or positive connotations. You get a full month for quiet reflection, but miss all of the fun and merriment of the Christmas spirit. There are friends you spend special meals with, and there is still some shopping you have to do. After four years, I’m still not sure if I like it or dread it. Christmas is still kind of new in China. During the missionary period up to the revolution Christmas was a quiet religious holiday. The hospital and local universities had many special Christmas performances to try and spread the Gospel. Then President Chiang Kai-shek’s wife, Madame Soong, attended many of these […]


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