New 2020 guidelines strengthen Communist Party control over China’s churches and public schools

New guidelines are now going into effect to strengthen Communist Party control over what is taught in China’s state churches and public schools.

The State Administration of Religious Affairs released in November Order 13, the “Administrative Measures for Religious Groups” to go into effect February 1. Article 17 of that Order states: “Religious organizations must spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party, as well as national laws, regulations, rules to religious personnel and religious citizens, educating religious personnel and religious citizens to support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, supporting the socialist system, adhering to and following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Then on Tuesday January 7, the Communist Party issued guidelines for Chinese primary through high schools banning the use of foreign teaching materials. The guidelines also require that all curriculum undergo political review to ensure that it promotes the “spirit of Xi Jinping Thought” and traditional Chinese cultural values. 

Chinese Christians cannot turn to state churches for true discipleship, nor can they entrust their children to Chinese schools. At both school and church, they are now taught that Xi Jinping, not Jesus Christ, is effectively the Lord of China.

But the new policies may ultimately benefit the cause of Christianity in China. No matter what Chinese schools and state churches teach, Jesus Christ is Lord, and he is using all things for the good of Chinese Christians. For a while, there was a trend in Chinese churches toward Christian education being done in megachurches by pastors and trained professionals, just like in Korea. But we see God using the increasingly severe governmental restrictions to cause more Chinese Christians to take responsibility for the evangelism and discipleship of their own children.

Now the greatest need is to equip parents for this task.

Voice of the Martyrs Korea and its US partner China Aid become aware of this movement toward parent-led discipleship in China when leaders representing several hundred churches in 30 provinces of China approached us last year with a request to supply 5,000 “Sunday School in a Box” packages within 12 months. The church leaders envisioned a package consisting of materials that are still legal in some locations in China but not readily available: the leading legal children’s Bible in China, a compact video player, and a comprehensive curriculum of digital resources for parents and children.

Instead of importing foreign materials—which these new laws in China strongly oppose—Chinese church leaders developed a strategy that makes the project much more difficult for Chinese authorities to detect or shut down.

So far VOM Korea and China Aid and many of our sister VOM missions around the world have supplied funds for 2,500 boxes. The confidential acquisition and distribution efforts have begun inside China. The operation has begun not a moment too soon: Now that the new restrictions for state churches and schools have gone into effect, the wisdom and foresight of these the Chinese church leaders can be seen: Parents discipling their own children has always been Christ’s plan for his church. Now it is the only hope for the Chinese church. VOMK and China Aid are urgently raising funds for the remaining 2,500 boxes to be sent within the next six months.

The cost for one Sunday School in a Box is 75,000 KRW, or $75USD. Korean churches and individuals interested in making a donation to the Sunday School in a Box project can do so at https://vomkorea.com/en/campaign/ssib/ or via electronic transfer to:

국민은행 463501-01-243303

예금주: (사)순교자의소리

Please include the phrase “SSIB” (for “Sunday School in a Box”) on the transfer.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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