A Chinese Christian shed light on how church communities are maintained amidst intense persecution from the government.
In March, the communist government of China released the new "Measures for the Administration of Internet Religious Information Service," which restricted how people shared the word of God online. With such stringent rules, many were left to wonder how Christianity would thrive in an environment where religious persecution is very rampant.
International Christian Concern (ICC) recently spoke with a Chinese Christian with an alias of Gianni, who worships in a heavily persecuted Chengdu-based house church through an encrypted messaging app. He shed light on how Christian churches thrive despite communist party-sponsored persecution.
Gianni explained that he mainly uses social media for two purposes, which was "to publicly witness and spread the gospel" through WeChat and its public account, and "for my serving at church," in which he uses Telegram, which is blocked in China, forcing him to use a VPN. For worship services, he and other congregants use Zoom.
"From a church-building perspective, technology has provided a minimum guarantee. When house churches are cracked down, there is at least a basic connection between the leadership team and the congregation, or members to members," Gianni explained. "That way the flock will not disperse completely if being struck. Without internet, gathering and the link between Christians would be very weak, scattered, and in smaller scale."
When asked if it was difficult to circumvent the Chinese government's crackdown on religious activities carried out through technology, Gianni said that "from a technical side, it is not difficult." He shared that the server of the app he uses is based overseas, so the Chinese government "cannot obtain user information from the backend...Our government is incapable of doing that at the moment."
Gianni was asked he was fearful of the communist party-sponsored persecution, to which he replied, "I am not afraid of the government's secret investigation." Instead, he remains steadfast in the faith that says "declare with your mouth and believe in your heart." Gianni said, "It is neither the Church's responsibility nor does it have the capacity to counter the investigation."
Gianni explained that the purpose of their faith was for "souls live in truth, freedom, and joy, not to make our flesh more secure." But in China, it remains a struggle as the communist party-sponsored persecution campaign often throws Christians in jail for alleged crimes against the regime.
Last week, CBN News reported that Chinese Christians who belonged to the Zion Reformed Church in Taiyuan were arrested for "illegally crossing the national border" to attend the KL2020 Gospel and Culture conference in January of 2020. They traveled out of China using valid passports and visas to Malaysia to attend the event, which featured speakers such as Pastor Tim Keller and Pastor D.A. Carson.
But the Chinese Christians were arrested, tried, and convicted and were forced to serve a seven-month prison sentence. Each of them were slapped with a fine ranging from $316 to $475. The Chinese Christians were released on February 27.