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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

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China's Largest Megachurch Asks Believers to Pray for Pastor Jailed for Christian Faith


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BY STOYAN ZAIMOV , CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER
February 2, 2016|1:07 pm
image: http://images.christianpost.com/full/76549/worshippers-pray-during-a-mass-at-the-liuhe-catholic-church-in-liuhe-village-on-the-outskirts-of-qingxu-county-northern-china-in-this-undated-photo.jpg
image: http://images.christianpost.com/full/76549/worshippers-pray-during-a-mass-at-the-liuhe-catholic-church-in-liuhe-village-on-the-outskirts-of-qingxu-county-northern-china-in-this-undated-photo.jpg
Worshippers pray during a mass at the Liuhe Catholic Church in Liuhe village on the outskirts of Qingxu county, northern China, in this undated photo.(PHOTO: REUTERS)
Worshippers pray during a mass at the Liuhe Catholic Church in Liuhe village on the outskirts of Qingxu county, northern China, in this undated photo.
Hangzhou's Chongyi Church, the largest government-sanctioned church in China, has asked Christians to pray for the Rev. Gu Yuese to keep his faith in jail as he faces government persecution for protesting against the removal of church crosses.
China Christian Daily translated Chongyi's press release over the weekend that included a prayer list.


The press release "asks its congregation particularly to pray for pastor Gu Yuese: beg the Lord to help Rev. Gu keeping his faith in adversity, standing firmly in the trials of the cross."
Gu was arrested in January for protesting against the ongoing forced removal of church crosses in China. Late last week, China Aid reported that the pastor has been placed under "residential surveillance in a designated location," otherwise known as a black jail.
Communist Party officials have ordered the removal of hundreds of church crosses in a massive crackdown throughout several provinces in the country, and with Gu's arrest they have shown that not even the most prominent church leaders in China will be allowed to stand in the way of their initiative.
The government is claiming that the crosses are being removed over building code violations, but several watchdog groups, including China Aid and International Christian Concern, have said that the crackdown has more to do with the government's unease with the growing Christian population.
"His arrest marks a major escalation in the crackdown against those who oppose the forced demolition of crosses," China Aid Founder and President Bob Fu said about the pastor's arrest. "He will be the highest-ranking national church leader arrested since the Cultural Revolution."
Fu later told the Christian Science Monitor that there can be no mistaking the message the Chinese government is sending out.
"This is really quite an escalation," the China Aid founder said. "It sends a signal to silence any potential future dissenting voices from within the Church. It tells everyone to shut up."
Carsten Vala, an authority on Christianity in China at Loyola University Maryland, told readers that government authorities have also arrested a number of activists in recent months.
"What is most worrying is that the crackdown on lawyers and civil society activists is now even reaching into the circles of officially registered religious and social organizations," Vala said.
"Not just unregistered groups. After all, Pastor Gu is a leader of the official churches of the Chinese Communist Party-backed Three Self Patriotic Movement association."
Back in July, Chinese Catholics and Protestants united in a campaign to carry crosses everywhere with them in protest against the crackdown.
Chinese Christians also posted pictures of themselves on social media with crosses erected at their homes, while priests called on believers in the nation to show the government that Christians stand together in protecting the holy symbol of the cross.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/china-megachurch-pray-pastor-yuese-jailed-christian-faith-defending-church-crosses-156567/#zul7kX4KizCikjJr.99

China's Largest Megachurch Asks Believers to Pray for Pastor Jailed for Christian Faith


image: http://graphic.christianpost.com/images/new_article/ic_print.gif
Sign Up for Free eNewsletter ››

BY STOYAN ZAIMOV , CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER
February 2, 2016|1:07 pm
image: http://images.christianpost.com/full/76549/worshippers-pray-during-a-mass-at-the-liuhe-catholic-church-in-liuhe-village-on-the-outskirts-of-qingxu-county-northern-china-in-this-undated-photo.jpg
image: http://images.christianpost.com/full/76549/worshippers-pray-during-a-mass-at-the-liuhe-catholic-church-in-liuhe-village-on-the-outskirts-of-qingxu-county-northern-china-in-this-undated-photo.jpg
Worshippers pray during a mass at the Liuhe Catholic Church in Liuhe village on the outskirts of Qingxu county, northern China, in this undated photo.(PHOTO: REUTERS)
Worshippers pray during a mass at the Liuhe Catholic Church in Liuhe village on the outskirts of Qingxu county, northern China, in this undated photo.
Hangzhou's Chongyi Church, the largest government-sanctioned church in China, has asked Christians to pray for the Rev. Gu Yuese to keep his faith in jail as he faces government persecution for protesting against the removal of church crosses.
China Christian Daily translated Chongyi's press release over the weekend that included a prayer list.


The press release "asks its congregation particularly to pray for pastor Gu Yuese: beg the Lord to help Rev. Gu keeping his faith in adversity, standing firmly in the trials of the cross."
Gu was arrested in January for protesting against the ongoing forced removal of church crosses in China. Late last week, China Aid reported that the pastor has been placed under "residential surveillance in a designated location," otherwise known as a black jail.
Communist Party officials have ordered the removal of hundreds of church crosses in a massive crackdown throughout several provinces in the country, and with Gu's arrest they have shown that not even the most prominent church leaders in China will be allowed to stand in the way of their initiative.
The government is claiming that the crosses are being removed over building code violations, but several watchdog groups, including China Aid and International Christian Concern, have said that the crackdown has more to do with the government's unease with the growing Christian population.
"His arrest marks a major escalation in the crackdown against those who oppose the forced demolition of crosses," China Aid Founder and President Bob Fu said about the pastor's arrest. "He will be the highest-ranking national church leader arrested since the Cultural Revolution."
Fu later told the Christian Science Monitor that there can be no mistaking the message the Chinese government is sending out.
"This is really quite an escalation," the China Aid founder said. "It sends a signal to silence any potential future dissenting voices from within the Church. It tells everyone to shut up."
Carsten Vala, an authority on Christianity in China at Loyola University Maryland, told readers that government authorities have also arrested a number of activists in recent months.
"What is most worrying is that the crackdown on lawyers and civil society activists is now even reaching into the circles of officially registered religious and social organizations," Vala said.
"Not just unregistered groups. After all, Pastor Gu is a leader of the official churches of the Chinese Communist Party-backed Three Self Patriotic Movement association."
Back in July, Chinese Catholics and Protestants united in a campaign to carry crosses everywhere with them in protest against the crackdown.
Chinese Christians also posted pictures of themselves on social media with crosses erected at their homes, while priests called on believers in the nation to show the government that Christians stand together in protecting the holy symbol of the cross.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/china-megachurch-pray-pastor-yuese-jailed-christian-faith-defending-church-crosses-156567/#zul7kX4KizCikjJr.99

China's Largest Megachurch Asks Believers to Pray for Pastor Jailed for Christian Faith


image: http://graphic.christianpost.com/images/new_article/ic_print.gif
Sign Up for Free eNewsletter ››

BY STOYAN ZAIMOV , CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER
February 2, 2016|1:07 pm
image: http://images.christianpost.com/full/76549/worshippers-pray-during-a-mass-at-the-liuhe-catholic-church-in-liuhe-village-on-the-outskirts-of-qingxu-county-northern-china-in-this-undated-photo.jpg
image: http://images.christianpost.com/full/76549/worshippers-pray-during-a-mass-at-the-liuhe-catholic-church-in-liuhe-village-on-the-outskirts-of-qingxu-county-northern-china-in-this-undated-photo.jpg
Worshippers pray during a mass at the Liuhe Catholic Church in Liuhe village on the outskirts of Qingxu county, northern China, in this undated photo.(PHOTO: REUTERS)
Worshippers pray during a mass at the Liuhe Catholic Church in Liuhe village on the outskirts of Qingxu county, northern China, in this undated photo.
Hangzhou's Chongyi Church, the largest government-sanctioned church in China, has asked Christians to pray for the Rev. Gu Yuese to keep his faith in jail as he faces government persecution for protesting against the removal of church crosses.
China Christian Daily translated Chongyi's press release over the weekend that included a prayer list.


The press release "asks its congregation particularly to pray for pastor Gu Yuese: beg the Lord to help Rev. Gu keeping his faith in adversity, standing firmly in the trials of the cross."
Gu was arrested in January for protesting against the ongoing forced removal of church crosses in China. Late last week, China Aid reported that the pastor has been placed under "residential surveillance in a designated location," otherwise known as a black jail.
Communist Party officials have ordered the removal of hundreds of church crosses in a massive crackdown throughout several provinces in the country, and with Gu's arrest they have shown that not even the most prominent church leaders in China will be allowed to stand in the way of their initiative.
The government is claiming that the crosses are being removed over building code violations, but several watchdog groups, including China Aid and International Christian Concern, have said that the crackdown has more to do with the government's unease with the growing Christian population.
"His arrest marks a major escalation in the crackdown against those who oppose the forced demolition of crosses," China Aid Founder and President Bob Fu said about the pastor's arrest. "He will be the highest-ranking national church leader arrested since the Cultural Revolution."
Fu later told the Christian Science Monitor that there can be no mistaking the message the Chinese government is sending out.
"This is really quite an escalation," the China Aid founder said. "It sends a signal to silence any potential future dissenting voices from within the Church. It tells everyone to shut up."
Carsten Vala, an authority on Christianity in China at Loyola University Maryland, told readers that government authorities have also arrested a number of activists in recent months.
"What is most worrying is that the crackdown on lawyers and civil society activists is now even reaching into the circles of officially registered religious and social organizations," Vala said.
"Not just unregistered groups. After all, Pastor Gu is a leader of the official churches of the Chinese Communist Party-backed Three Self Patriotic Movement association."
Back in July, Chinese Catholics and Protestants united in a campaign to carry crosses everywhere with them in protest against the crackdown.
Chinese Christians also posted pictures of themselves on social media with crosses erected at their homes, while priests called on believers in the nation to show the government that Christians stand together in protecting the holy symbol of the cross.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/china-megachurch-pray-pastor-yuese-jailed-christian-faith-defending-church-crosses-156567/#zul7kX4KizCikjJr.99
Breitbart

By Thomas D. Williams, PhD.
3 Feb 2016

■ Communist officials have arrested and jailed Gu Yuese, the pastor of the 10,000-member Chongyi Church, which is China’s first Christian megachurch.

Police have reportedly sent Gu to a “black jail,” a detention facility outside of the country’s established penal system.

As a member of China’s state-approved Protestant denomination, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), Gu was a pastor in good standing with the Communist Party until he began publicly protesting the government-sponsored campaign to remove and demolish crosses in the Zhejiang province in 2014.

Though the pastor is ostensibly being held under charges of embezzlement of funds, Gu’s detention is actually “political revenge” for Mr Gu’s “disloyalty to the Chinese Communist Party’s religious policy” according to Bob Fu, president of the US-based Christian human rights group China Aid.
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

“In the past two weeks 18 crosses were removed and destroyed,” Fu said, adding that in total “at least 1,800 crosses of churches were demolished since the campaign started.”

Zhejiang, a province located in the south east of China, is home to many churches, particularly in the city of Wenzhou and Gu’s Chongyi Church is in the province’s capital city of Hangzhou.

Fu called the arrest an “escalation” in China’s crackdown on Christians, which has mostly targeted house churches, saying that it sends a signal “to silence any potential future dissenting voices from within the church. It tells everyone to shut up.”

Gu and his wife, Zhou Lian Mei, who has also been taken prisoner and is being held in a separate facility, prepared a statement for members of their congregation, asking for prayers and urging members to stay strong in the face of trials.

Chongyi Church is experiencing “unprecedented, chilling trials,” they wrote. “Everyone must equally rely on the Lord’s grace to confront [this hardship] and triumph over it.”

The couple also wrote that the ordeal “will refine every impurity in our ministry team to the greatest extent and compel us to love the Lord and people more purely. People in Chongyi Church will worship the only true God!”

David Ro, international deputy director for East Asia of the Lausanne Movement, has suggested that the Communist Party’s clampdown on Christian churches may reflect a campaign to “indigenize” Christianity, removing traces of its ties with the West.

“Three-Self churches with huge buildings and highly visible red crosses appear to resemble Western cathedrals, in contrast to the less visible ‘indigenous’ house church Christianity which some officials may feel is more appropriate for China,” Ro wrote.

Ro also cited internal politics as well as an “emerging leftist movement with nostalgia for Mao” among possible factors behind the persecution.

China’s crusade against the Christian cross has continued unabated since 2014 and reflects a particular animus toward the central symbol of the Christian faith.

“The authorities have attached great importance to this religious symbol,” said Zheng Leguo, a pastor from the Zhejiang province who now lives in the United States. “This means no more prominent manifestation of Christianity in the public sphere.”

Last October, the Chinese Communist party announced its intentions to intensify restrictions on Christian churches, following on a series of government measures meant to intimidate Chinese Christians, such as arbitrary detention of Christian clergy and the closing of churches..

According to a Reuters report, under President Xi Jinping, China is conducting the worst domestic crackdown on human rights in two decades and much of this is against Christians. Nearly 1,000 rights activists were detained last year alone—almost as many as in the previous two years combined.

In late August, police arrested China’s most prominent Christian lawyer, Zhang Kai, who defended and gave legal counsel to a number of Christian churches throughout the country, especially against the government’s cross-removal campaign.

Zhang and his intern Liu Peng were arrested the night before he was to meet with US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, David Saperstein.

China’s increasing hostility toward Christianity may also reflect an awareness and growing frustration with the religion’s continued growth in the officially atheist nation.

Though the Chinese Communist Party is the largest explicitly atheist organization in the world, with 85 million official members, it is now overshadowed by an estimated 100 million Christians in China.

Christianity is growing so fast in China that some predict that it will be the most Christian nation in the world in only another 15 years. By far, the greatest growth is coming outside the official state-sanctioned churches, which are considered subservient to the Communist Party. Numbers are increasing mostly in unofficial Protestant “house churches” and in the underground Catholic church.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome



China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: r.ritchie@chinaaid.org
Website: www.chinaaid.org


"Bob Fu has dedicated his life to bringing freedom of religion to the Chinese people. His story is a testimony to the power of faith and an inspiration to people struggling to break free from oppression."
—Mrs. Laura Bush

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