On Sunday morning, September 21st, a swarm of more than one hundred policemen raided two house churches in southeast China. Everyone in attendance was taken into custody regardless of his or her relationship to the church and it was reported this included a good number of children. After questioning, all but six church leaders were eventually released. These leaders are now charged with cult-like activity, a criminal offense that has not been used against the house church in more than twenty years. The detained church leaders are mature Christians who are faithful followers of Christ and are very involved with serving the church in China. We do not yet understand the whole situation and whether this is an isolated event or the beginning of a nationwide restriction of the house church.
We ask that you pray with us for these brothers and sisters. Today our staff and many of our partnering churches are fasting and praying before the Lord to petition his mercy upon those detained, the churches who are currently without their local leadership, and everyone witnessing these events who are not believers. The stories coming from the region are amazing – God is on the move!
- God’s Spirit is at work in the life of the local churches and those detained.
- House churches across China are rallying to support them financially and to encourage them spiritually.
- They are being treated well by the guards and other inmates because of their faith.
- The husbands of two of the sisters detained are not Christians. Pray for their salvation through this trial.
- Pray for those detained to continue worshiping and praising God while in jail.
- Pray for the physical strength of those detained due to poor conditions.
- Pray for national churches to come alongside these churches and support/encourage them.
- Pray for God to receive glory through this situation and that his will be done.
Though these events are taking place in a region of China where the house church has long enjoyed relative openness, suffering and persecution are not new to the Chinese church. Christ did not promise that his people would be free from all woes, but rather that his Spirit will never abandon his church. The church throughout the world should expect difficulty in this life, so let us pray for our brothers and sisters to remain courageous in this trial.
In this situation, we see the Chinese house church being given the privilege and joy of reenacting the early church of Acts. According to reports from those involved, one man taken into custody during the raid was only a seeker. He had been talking about faith with friends and only recently attended the church. But in the Lord’s amazing sovereignty, this man has now made a profession of faith! Let us remember that persecution is never a setback for the church, for the gates of hell will not prevail. Rather it is the Lord who uses every circumstance to bring glory to his name.
Hannah Nation serves as the blog editor for the China Partnership. She is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and works with China Outreach Ministries, serving students in the Boston metro area. She first traveled to China in 2005 and has cared deeply for the country and its church ever since.