Persecution in China
According to VOM, 80 percent of China's Christians attend China's "illegal" house churches.
Samuel Lamb, persecuted and beloved Chinese House Church Leader
Heroic Chinese house church leader, Samuel Lamb, dies: "One of the most well-known Christian leaders in China, Pastor Samuel Lamb, died on Saturday (August 3, 2012) in Guangzhou, aged 88. He had been arrested during one of the first big waves of persecution in Mao’s China and was first imprisoned from 1955 to 1957....
"Lamb, also translated from the original Chinese as ‘Lam’, was targeted by the government because of his refusal to merge his illegal house church into the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the state-regulated Protestant Church. The Chinese authorities sentenced him a second time in 1958, when he spent 20 years in labour camps....
"In 1979 he started his house church.... Attendance grew quickly and he had to move his congregation to a bigger building in the same city.... Simultaneously, he became an example for millions of believers in China, where today estimates say there are now about 80 million Christians – some estimates claim one tenth of the population is Christian....
"Suffering played an important part in many of Lamb’s sermons. He was famous for repeating: 'More persecution, more growth'. That phrase had not only to do with numbers of believers, but also with spiritual growth." Read more here: Samuel Lamb
The excerpts below were written between 2001 and 2003
Detention of Samuel Lamb sparks wide concern
NANJING, China (July 19, 2001(?) -- Chinese authorities detained and interrogated well-known house church leader Samuel Lamb after worship services on Sunday, June 13. Ten of his co-workers were also detained and interrogated. This is the first time in 14 years that Chinese authorities have taken repressive steps against Pastor Lamb, who reportedly hosts 3,000 worshippers per week at his new meeting place in Guangzhou.
Sources in China say it is no coincidence that just two days earlier, authorities detained and later released 100 leaders of the China Gospel Fellowship house church network in the central city of Wuhan. Prior to these incidents, members of a high-level Politburo meeting reportedly issued a secret directive calling for a crackdown on all “illegal” religious activities such as unregistered house church meetings. Chinese authorities may be over-reacting to high profile publicity concerning house churches and the “Back to Jerusalem Movement”...
The next item is written by Samuel Lamb, who chose to be anonymous
A Story Of Imprisonment, Torture… But Also A Story Of Faith, HopeI was born in a Christian family in China -- a fourth generation Christian. My grandparents were very sincere Christians.
Probably 80 percent of the house church leaders in China know or have heard the name of this house church leader, but he asked that his name not be used. Possibly as many as 2 million Christians are involved in his house church network. He has been arrested several times and imprisoned a total of 10 years for his faith in Jesus Christ. He spoke recently with an Open Doors team. The following is his testimony:
In 1949 the new China was established. China went into very deep tragedy. The spiritual warfare increased. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
In 1952-1954 the Three Self Patriotic Movement was established in China. In 1958 most all the churches in China were closed. In 1966 it was the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. One of the “Gang of Four,” Chiang Ch’ing, the wife of Communist Party founder Mao Zedong, closed the foreigners’ church in Shanghai. She proclaimed, “Let God go home! Christianity in China is going to the history museum.”
The government chased out all the foreign missionaries. Communism closed the door and they attacked the men and women of God in China. The life of the church in China was in a desperate situation, and many people were martyred for Christ. Many went to jail. Many were criticized and were scolded. Some people were scared and they denied Jesus. Some escaped overseas. Some people betrayed their friends and brothers and sisters.
Just like Satan comes and wants to destroy, the church of China outwardly was totally destroyed. But at the same time, the Holy Spirit filled the church of China with faith, like a filling slowly from the bottom to the top. Actually, nobody proclaimed the name of Jesus. The people had no doctor, no medicine and no food to eat. No one cared for them. You can compare the situation to North Korea today, because people were desperate. They could not find any help from the government. They could not find help from anywhere. “Where do I go from here, and what should I do?” they asked.
From there, people looked for God. During that time only two to five people could gather together. They just met together in small groups and that became their meeting place. It looked like a spark of fire and it spread all over. At that time Satan scared us and did all kinds of things to try and stop us, but the revival grew. Today in China we have almost 100 million believers.
In this process, many people have carried a cross and been imprisoned, and Jesus Christ carried the cross. The cross helped us confess our sin. The Lord put us in a situation like in Hebrews chapter 11. To carry our cross -- and we have to carry our cross -- we have to walk side by side with Jesus. Because of that the presence of the Lord is with us and gives us strength. We have desperate faith to follow Jesus Christ. That allows the light of Jesus to live within us.
I have been imprisoned several times. Every day I prayed, “Lord, before I experience today, you have already walked through it. You have gone ahead of me to experience what I am going to walk through. You know what will happen in my day, and you will take full responsibility.”
First, when they arrest you, they try to convince you to give up your faith. And when you surrender to them they will offer you an office in a position such as community member or a position in the Three Self church. If you do not deny your faith and surrender to them, then they will attack you. First they put you into a small place, isolate you, and they let you starve to convince you.
The first prison I was in was the size of this room (150 sq. feet) and there were 40 prisoners there. A small square for each prisoner. When we crossed one another it was very close, and when we slept, we couldn’t stretch out our legs. When you wanted a drink there was no water. And because I was a Christian, they appointed me to distribute water to everyone. But everyday we only had a cup of water, and this water was for you to brush your teeth, wash your face and drink. And even do your laundry with that cup of water! Because of that we did no laundry and we had bugs in our clothes. We only had two small bowls of noodles every day and a small piece of bread. It was a very small piece. If it was a special day or festival, they would give you a bigger bowl of noodles.
Every day they gave you work. The work was making Christmas lights. We had to install those light ports every day -- seven thousand. Inside the light bulb you have two small lines. You hook them together and you have to use your teeth to bite and then seal it. If you could not finish your goal, they beat you up. When you finished, you had to bow down. Then they used that big long stick and hit your hip.
There was no barber, so you had long hair and a long beard. One of the prisoners was a Uighur, a minority from northwestern China. He could not accomplish his goal most of the time. So they asked him, “Why can’t you finish your goal?” Because he had a long beard they just pulled out the hair from his beard. The next time when he couldn’t finish his goal, they pulled out twice as much, until his face was hurt and harmed.
They would interrogate you and asked you questions. If you don’t answer them, or if your answer was not according to what they wanted you to answer, they would punish you.
I said, “I have nothing to say, because the Holy Spirit did not give me a word to share with you.”
And they said, “How can you say words like this? You’re against me?” So they bound me. But afterwards they said, “No, we will not bind you. We have found another kind of punishment.” They had a gate. They cuffed my hands in the back and then to the gate. When they opened the gate my body hanged in the air; my feet could not touch the ground for almost four hours.
During these four hours I prayed to the Lord and the Lord gave me feelings. I felt the Lord crucify Himself on the cross to carry our sins. This is a reality. He is the Son of God. He paid the price for us and He allowed me to take part in His suffering. At that time in my conscience I told myself, “I love You, truly I love You,” because He allowed me to experience His suffering. It is really only a little suffering I experienced because the Lord will not give us more than what we can carry.
Another officer came to see me. My hand was swollen. He touched my hand and said, “Why don’t you just say a few words that make them happy? Why do you have to suffer?”
I had no strength to talk and I heard a loud voice from far away that said, “Beat him up!” Then I felt just like when Jesus was on the cross. He said, “Forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.”
They don’t know what they are doing. If they knew the faith we have, the Lord we have, they wouldn’t do that. Actually, I feel I owe them the gospel, because they don’t know Christ. I am indebted to them because they don’t know our Lord.
After a few hours they came to see me. They didn’t say any words, they just released me from the handcuffs. They brought me to another room. I sat at a table with the officer -- face to face. He had a paper and pencil and he said, “Talk!” How can I say anything? Then he said, “Thank you,” and closed his book and walked away. He never questioned me again, and they sentenced me to three years in the labor camp. Actually it was over three years when they released me.
When I was in the barber shop in the prison, the guy who cut my hair -- a spy -- said, “We already have four people sentenced to death. You are one of them, we will execute you.” They put me in a place, and outside my room there was some clean water, so every day I did my laundry and I washed and took a bath. Every time I heard an engine noise, I put on my clothes because I knew they were coming to execute me. I was ready. Every day I make this preparation. When they wanted to execute someone, they would have some police in uniforms with white gloves and handcuffs. They took out those prisoners, who never came back.
One day the uniformed police came with their white gloves, opened the gate and came into our room. They called my name. I thought, “This is the time of the Lord.” So I got up and followed them out the gate. There were two gates. I can see the outer gate. Eight police were with me. I walked with the police to the room of the prison chief.
They told me to squat on a rock. One soldier said it was his first time to execute a prisoner. At the right side of the execution ground was a meeting room and the officers were holding a meeting. I talked to a prisoner and he said, “No weapon can hurt me. I am with supernatural power.” After he said this, they executed him. Just shot him in the head. Blood everywhere!
One of the officers said to me, “What do you want to say?” The days they executed prisoners they have a loudspeaker. People came to watch the executions. He said, “Well, this group is waiting for you. What do want to say, you have to say it now.” I said, “I have nothing to say.”
I felt very sorry for him. I felt I owed him the gospel. But because I have no word to say, he came from his chair and grabbed my wrist. Then he put his hand on my heart to see if it was still beating. He was very angry because he assumed I was going be very scared. Then he sat down. I experienced death. Every day we go through death to allow the death of Christ to live in our life. After a couple of times of this kind of imprisonment and death threats, they finally said, “This man’s a real Christian.” Thank you, Lord!
May the Lord use you (Open Doors) to cooperate with the house churches of China so we can expand and do our mission into the world. And China has opened up. In the 1940s China had a gospel team who had a vision to bring the gospel from China to the Northwest then to the Eastern world to Jerusalem. In 1984 we already sent our colleagues, a few dozen, to the Northwest of China to spread the gospel among the minority. And in the recent house church movement a lot of churches are sending out missionaries to Northwest of China.
To obey God’s word is to submit to Matthew 8 and to bring the gospel to the ends of the world. To bring the gospel in China, out of China and into Jerusalem -- until the number’s fulfilled and when the church is prepared, then we can go to see Jesus.
This kingdom belongs to the Lord and the Lord will reign forever. Until that time the Lord will dry our tears. He will allow us to stay in front of the throne of God and receive his glory. The suffering that we have is only temporary. In the future we will see forever glory.
Romans 12:1 is a Scripture to encourage the church of China, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices. Holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship.”
In 1995 many leaders from the house churches in China gathered together. We established a fellowship, a network, to coordinate and harmonize with different churches with the need for Bibles and spiritual books. I hope Open Doors can help us to train those leaders so we can carry on and bring the gospel. We have confidence in the commitment of Open Doors. May the Lord bless the ministry.
From outside, the door of China seems closed, but we see doors are open. In the book of Revelation the Lord said to the church of Philadelphia, “because brothers you love one another … I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” Through this open door we have to carry the cross of the Lord, and by faith the door opens. This door is open always -- no one can close this door. In China it’s like that. In North Korea it’s like that. May the Lord bless you all.
Mass arrest in China - please pray: We have just received news of a mass arrest of 170 house church Christians in Nanyang County, Henan Province.
The believers had assembled for worship when Public Security Bureau officers raided the meeting place. After the arrest, the police started processing the detainees to identify the leaders. They are presently holding 14 leaders, while the rest of the Christians were forced to pay fines before being fingerprinted, warned, and released. The 14 leaders face more serious charges and may be imprisoned. It is usual in such arrests for the leaders to be beaten and tortured at this stage....
Nanyang County is one of the strongest Christian areas in China. It first experienced a tremendous revival which started in the 1970s and continues to this day. Perhaps 40% to 50% of the 1.1 million population in the county believe in the Lord Jesus, including many entire villages. Over the years it has been the scene of some of China's strongest and most diabolical persecution. Nanyang has produced many of China's house church leaders, including Brother Yun and Peter Xu Yongze.
* Please pray God would be glorified through the lives of the 14 arrested house church leaders. Pray they would be a good witness to the authorities, and their families would stand in faith during this testing time.
* Pray God would work good through this hardship, resulting in Jesus Christ being lifted up, so that many more souls would be drawn to Him.
* Please pray for the day that every spiritually hungry soul in China would have access to God's Word.The house churches in China have recently reported a critical lack of Bibles. Many thousands of new believers cannot obtain a copy of God's Word. The shortage is even more acute that normal because of the government's decision to decrease the number of Bibles that are allowed to be officially printed in China. Even though "official" Bibles are intended for the registered church, the house churches have creatively found ways to obtain significant quantities of these for their own use.
This email message was sent by Court Wood - In Jesus' Name Ministries, http://injesusname.org
Voice of the Martyrs -- On May 11, 2003, a house church in Anshan in Liaoning province of China was raided by officials of the Public Service Bureau. Approximately forty Christians were tied up and their names recorded. While all were released later that night, the church has received a formal announcement of closure of their "illegal gathering." ... A government spokesman, Jin Xiangdong, confirmed the raid of an "illegal religious gathering site" because of their "disturbance of social order."
Despite international pressure, Chinese authorities continue to defend their claim to freedom of religion. In a May 22 article by the government-controlled Xinhua News Agency, official Chinese religious leaders attacked the latest report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released on May 13. In the report, the USCIRF lists China among "countries of particular concern" and criticizes it as a "particularly severe violator of religious freedom."
Pray for the thousands of Christians throughout China facing threats, intimidation, arrest, and possibly death because of their faith in Christ. Pray that those in prison for their faith will receive added strength from God's Spirit, so that they might have a renewed sense of their freedom in Christ, despite their chains.
Voice of the Martyrs: Sister Ma and her family were sound asleep one night in May 2001, when Chinese Public Security Bureau police burst into her house and arrested her, her son and her daughter-in-law ...
Sister Ma never broke when she was tortured with beatings and electrical shocks. Even when she was close to death, she refused to disclose the names of members of her congregation or sign a statement renouncing her Christian faith.... Throughout her ordeal, Sister Ma could hear the sounds of her son being tortured in the next room.
They could hear each other’s screams -- additional incentives to betray their friends and their faith. Recalling this, Sister Ma began to sob. “They wanted me to hear (my son’s) cries,” she said. “It broke my heart.”
According to VOM sources, Sister Ma was beaten to death while in custody. This kind of treatment has been common in China and other countries for more than half a century. In fact, more Christians have been martyred for their faith in the last century than all other centuries combined.
House church Pastor Phillip Xu has been sentenced to 18 months "re-education through [hard] labor" for leading an unregistered church service. Arrested in December by officers from the Public Security Bureau, he faces "inhumane treatment" --the kinds of cruelties that few Americans can imagine.
"This is 12 hours a day of work, very minimal food -- maybe a bowl of rice in the morning and a bowl of rice in the evening -- and being forced to work to meet some kind of a quota," said Todd Nettleton, a spokesman with Voice of the Martyrs. "We've had reports of prisoners being forced to do some kind of intricate labor, like wiring Christmas lights, and being forced to do so without their glasses. And yet they're forced to maintain a standard to meet a quota every day."
Todd Nettleton reminds us to pray for this persecuted brother in Christ: "Once we have started to pray, we can contact the Chinese embassy. We are encouraging Christians in America to make an inquiry on behalf of Pastor Xu, asking why this is happening to this pastor. The Chinese constitution guarantees religious freedom -- yet here is a religious leader who has been put in prison for his activities."
Like many others who have freely given their lives to God, Pastor Xu had opportunities to serve His people in safer places. He could have stayed in the United States after his years of study there. But, like many of God's faithful friends through the ages, "he chose to be mistreated along with the people of God... He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward." Hebrews 11:24-27 (Agape Press Newswire, 1-23-03)
Government Tries to Force Church Leadership Change (China): "Pastor Bian is the only pastor of the official church in Datong, Shanxi Province. He received notification on December 24 from the Religious Affairs Bureau that all Christians in his church had requested a change in leadership. According to a member of his congregation, who cannot be identified for security reasons, only 3-4 of the 4000 members wanted him removed. [And they may well have been moles, spies planted by the government] He was arrested on December 26 and was only released when the church threatened to go to the Datong government.
"The church members are asking for your urgent prayers, as the Religious Affairs Bureau continues to investigate, looking for grounds to remove him from leadership." 1-19-03
"They then confiscated all of the home's portable heaters, leaving the family to suffer from the cold of winter [in minus 14 degrees Celsius].... When Hua went to the police on Monday to request the return of the heaters, he was detained for several hours during which time he was beaten again. He did not receive the heaters. ...
"The attack followed a peaceful protest by the family in the early hours of January 4, as they and other members of their neighbourhood objected to the cutting off of the electricity and water to their homes. Chinese authorities had taken this action when they were unable to obtain the names of various house church members from Hua when they learned that he had been responsible for collecting approximately 10,000 pieces of used clothing for distribution among poorer church members in the rural countryside."
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