With more churches being closed down or demolished, congregation members now have to wait until its dark outside or meet in secluded places to continue practicing their religion.
Bitter Winter has accessed videos and photos that demonstrate the sad reality of Christians in China. The situation is grave for both: the government-approved and house churches.
On September 10, Fuyang city authorities in the eastern province of Anhui secretly demolished a government-controlled Three-Self Patriotic church. As a result, its 100 odd believers now have to meet outside, braving the recent cold weather.
Christians from a county in Fuyang are gathering on a field of ruins:
A nearby resident said, “Even though I don’t believe in God, I disapprove of the way the government is doing things. They didn’t even give prior notice. They waited until no one was at the church to tear it down. The church’s air conditioners, audio speakers, and benches were all buried underneath.”
The church’s manager added, “Now, the state has issued a document saying that Three-Self churches will be merged and reduced in number. And so, many more churches are facing demolition.”
Anhui is home to the second-largest population of Christians in China. In the Fuyang region, there are at least 120,000 Christian believers; therefore, demolitions and mergers are a massive blow for them.
In the neighboring Shandong’s Zibo city, a Three-Self church was demolished in October, and its congregation is now forced to assemble in a gazebo near their village. To ensure they are not discovered, they wait until it is dark to meet. The oldest amongst them is 93-years-old while the youngest is 60.
A local elderly Christian remarked, “This reminds me of the Cultural Revolution when Christians were forced to hold meetings in cellars, cornfields, and pigsties. Such situations will likely become even more common in the future.”
Compared to the Three-Self church believers who are still allowed to meet in the open, the fate of house churches is far worse. Believers from Xuchang city in Henan are now holding their gatherings in secret, sometimes in the forest, after their church was raided earlier this year.
Christians from Henan’s Xuchang are holding a gathering in a forest:
The person in charge of the church said, “We had already paid five years of rent for the house. But we were forced to move out even though we have been here for less than three years. We are holding our meetings outside for now, but since the weather is getting colder, I don’t know how long can we continue.”
Reported by Jiang Tao