Beijing, April 19, 2916. ( IRFT Newswire). The persecution against Christians in China is in the severest since 1990s, said in IRFT world watch report. Most incidents are instigated and aided by the administrative machinery, report pointed out. A new crackdown on Christian worshippers forced to go many of them underground , said Father Joseph Varghese, Executive Director of IRFT. Kidnapping and killing of Christians on the remote areas are common now, said Father Varghese. The death of pastor and his wife as the government demolishes their worship place a stark reminder of China’s aggressive stand against the minority religion. Father Varghese added.
“There was a woman in my church who was kidnapped by her family when they found out she converted. They took her back to her home village and broke her legs so she could not escape and then tried to force her to be a Muslim again.”
These are the words of Na*, a Christian leader from the Hui people group in China. Originally from a Muslim family, as most Hui are, she came to Christ 14 years ago. In Na’s region, anyone who leaves Islam is seen as a traitor and they are told that they have brought great shame and dishonour to their family. As a result, some Christian converts have been kidnapped or threatened with honour killings. In spite of the enormous risk, many Hui people are becoming Christians. “It is amazing how the gospel message touches the hearts of the Hui people,” says Na. “Many are giving up everything to follow Christ.”
The story for Christians in China varies hugely depending on the region. There has been a significant change for the better for Han Chinese, but other Chinese Christians from minority ethnic groups such as the Uyghur and Hui groups, often Muslim Background Believers, face a great amount of persecution.
Pastor Askar* is a Uyghur from the Xinjiang province in the northwestern part of China, bordering countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. In recent years, Islamic extremism has taken root in this region and last year the situation deteriorated rapidly. There have been violent attacks, including the slaying of innocent people by sword at subway stations. The rest of the nation has become fearful of the Uyghur because of these attacks and has ostracised them. The local government is fearful of any religious gatherings. For this reason, Pastor Askar and his church are forced to meet in secret. If he and his congregants are caught meeting together, they could face several years in prison so they exercise extreme caution. “In the summer,” he says, “we wait until midnight so nobody will see us, and then we go to the lake to baptise a new believer. But in the winter, it is too cold to do that, so I baptise new believers with a water bottle inside.”
The same applies to the even smaller group of Christian converts from a Tibetan Buddhist background. They can only meet in very small groups, as they face great persecution from other Tibetans if their faith is discovered.
It’s unprecedented persecution against the Church, where church leaders are going to prison, are being sent to mental institutions, are being beaten and tortured and where crosses have been forcibly removed from now over 1,800 churches since 2014.
There are policies that are coming out that come directly from the central government to basically persecute the Christian Church in China.
The thing that’s really significant to Pastor Joseph Gu’s case is that the Chinese government has systematically started persecuting, arresting pastors, demolishing churches, destroying crosses, on government sanctioned churches.
In the last two years the Chinese government has, in an unprecedented way, started to persecute its own churches, and Pastor Gu is the most significant example of that and is representative of a new level of persecution, Father Varghese said. The world should condemn China’s persecution in all world forums and deny them the freedom of free commerce, added Father Varghese.