The rise of Christianity in China has been so significant that experts are now suggesting Christianity may be the singular most popular “organization” in China – surpassing current Communist party membership numbers by almost 10 million. Analysts expect that Christianity will continue to grow, eventually surpassing the number of Christians in America in less than ten years.
President Xi and the Chinese Communist party have taken notice and have begun to implement a more active position to control the underground church and mold China’s Three-Self (registered) churches into their structure of socialism.
It seems increasingly clear that the party sees the Christian churches as one of the essential threats to its continuing tight grip on power.
This move has a few implications, namely:
- More and more Christians in China will leave the underground and join the Three-Self churches as they begin to falsely perceive the “safety” of this church re-organization.
- Persecution of leaders in underground churches will increase as the government’s control tightens.
- More and more outside supporters of the Chinese underground church, including the South Korean church, will shift their support from the underground church to the Three-Self churches, leaving the underground church vulnerable (even now, some Korean churches are beginning to form partnerships with some of these churches).
- The underground church will begin to be seen as a “cult” when they refuse to adapt to the new “mold” that others have compromised their true faith for.
- As this re-organization continues to proceed and churches remove their support, the need for additional avenues of support will be desperately needed, and media will be especially vital.
While these things do not surprise us, we continue to be astonished as we meet seminary trained students and missionaries in China who have never been trained to make sense of suffering or how to respond to it. Yes, their zeal is great and their level of biblical literacy is often high, but they are lacking in two key areas:
1.) The practical ways to put the word they are so zealous about into action and
2.) A true understanding of what it means to suffer for Christ and how to respond to it.
Recently, during a .W discipleship training in China, we had the privilege of sharing the ITSOTC content with some missionaries who are serving Han Chinese and other minorities, and we were shocked when one of them responded, “How is it that I am now in my Doctoral program and I have never heard anything about these things?”
As we continue to observe this “molding” of the church by President Xi and as we recognize the plight of Chinese seminary students, missionaries and other Christian leaders in China, Voice of the Martyrs Korea has been preparing and is even now beginning to meet the need for adequate training in this area through our discipleship trainings and our short-wave radio content that is broadcast into China every single night!