Persecution in China
Key Chinese House Church Leader Gives His Testimony
A story of imprisonment, torture…
But also a story of faith, hope
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.
I was born in a Christian family in China -- a fourth generation Christian. My grandparents were very sincere Christians.
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. The Bible says,
"Set your mind on things above, not on things on the c earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." (Colossians 3:2-4)
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,
“...I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name." (Revelation 3:8)
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.
OPEN DOORS USA
Call 949-752-6600 or go to its USA web site at www.opendoorsusa.org
PO Box 27001, Santa Ana, CA 92799.
Currently working in 60 countries with 23 international offices and over 300 staff worldwide, Open Doors with Brother Andrew delivers Bibles and other study materials, provides literacy training and pastoral training and advocates on behalf of those who are persecuted for their faith in Christ Jesus.
Jerry Dykstra, Media Relations Coordinator, JerryD@odusa.org