Tens of thousands of pastors in China have reportedly gone into hiding in anticipation of the communist government's "final assault" against Christianity.
Asia Harvest, a Christian organization that focuses on helping local Asian ministries to plant churches among unreached people groups, released a December 2020 newsletter saying these house church pastors have disconnected from technology-their mobiles phones and computers-to avoid being tracked.
They also destroyed their ID cards by microwaving them to ruin the microchips. In China, ID cards are necessary to move around, as one cannot ride trains, get flights, rent apartments, or even find employment without it. It serves as the government's tracking system for the Chinese citizens.
According to the newsletter, Chinese house churches are presently facing "extremely difficult" times.
"The situation for believers in China has been extremely difficult, as Xi Jinping and the Communist Party gradually prepare for what seems like a final assault to try to rid Christianity from the country once and for all," the newsletter said.
The missing pastors are reportedly "still alive" but have chosen to disappear from the government's watchful eye as they prepare for a more intensified attack against the church.
China appears bent on eradicating Christianity. However, this proves to be an impossible task because the number of believers in China has grown so much over the years that there are now about 100 million Christians in the country.
Shifting tactics, the Chinese communist party has launched a new strategy to control the church: by releasing its own version of the Bible. In its effort to "Sinicize" Christianity, China is rewriting the Bible to align it with the principles being taught by the CCP, UCA News reports.
For example, a textbook for professional ethics and law quotes the passages in John 8:2-11 where people brought an adulterous woman to Jesus and asked Him if she should be stoned to death for her sins. Jesus told them that those who had no sin should cast the first stone.
At Jesus' words, the woman's accusers got convicted by their conscience, and one by one, they left. When they were all gone, Jesus asked the woman if no one condemned her, to which she replied, "No one." Then Jesus told her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."
China's version of the Bible has a different ending. Instead of Jesus telling the woman to go and sin no more, He apparently told her, "I too am a sinner. But if the law could only be executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead." According to this version, He then stoned the woman to death.
This version has removed the forgiveness of God. It emphasized that the law must be followed whatever the situation, which agrees with the CCP's teaching that in China, the law must be followed at all times.
Besides destroying house churches and arresting church leaders, China's religious crackdown has recently included even the state-registered churches.
Authorities have closed down a number of three-self church buildings and converted them for a different use, such as propaganda centers for the CCP. They have also merged three-self churches to limit the places of worship in certain localities.
However, Christianity is growing in China. A report from The Economist says there are now more Christians in China than there are in France and Germany. The Asia Harvest newsletter confirms this.
"In the 71 years since China became communist, the Lord has laughed at efforts to destroy His kingdom, and He has overseen the greatest revival in history, with the church in China growing from about one million believers to well over 100 million!" the newsletter says.