CHINA: The reality of persecution

CHINA: The reality of persecution

CHINA: The reality of persecution

"Blessed are they which are
persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute
you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my
sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in
heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before
you." (Matthew 5:10-12)

Enough has
obtained photos, smuggled out of China, of the Chinese police
torturing Christians. Here is the story behind the

We've heard that, in other
countries, Christians are persecuted for their faith. Possibly we
may have read a book about such things and been moved by their
courage and the power of their testimony as they challenge the
strength of our own convictions. However it is not very often
that we 'see' persecution. And it does not make for comfortable
viewing or reading. And for that we can make no apology. If there
are Christians suffering like this, and if our discomfort prompts
us to speak up on their behalf, then the discomfort is worth it.
Phil Whittall

She didn't renounce her faith

Sister Ma and her family were
sound asleep one night in May 2001 when Chinese Public Security
Bureau police burst into her house and arrested her, her son and
her daughter-in-law. The police left her 5-year-old grandson
alone with nobody to take care of him. A 27-year-old woman, a
friend and fellow Christian named Yu Zhongju, dropped by the
house during the raid and was also arrested.

According to interviews with
members of Sister Ma's house church and statements smuggled out
of prison, dozens of church members were arrested at the same
time and beaten with clubs, jolted with cattle prods and burned
with cigarettes. When they fainted, buckets of water were poured
on them to revive them. Interrogators stomped on the fingers of
male prisoners and stripped off the clothes of young women
prisoners and abused them.

"They used the electrical prods on
me all over," Ms. Ma said, fighting back tears. "They wanted to
humiliate us." New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who
reported on November 26, 2002, that police in a remote region of
China had interrogated a woman named Ma Yuqin, learnt additional
details about Sister Ma's arrest and torture but their efforts
seemed unsuccessful.

Kristof wrote, "She never broke
when she was tortured with beatings and electrical shocks. Even
when she was close to death, she refused to disclose the names of
members of her congregation or sign a statement renouncing her
Christian faith."

How we got the photos

Several weeks ago Release
International passed these photos to us after they were couriered
out of China by Release International's associate ministry Voice
of the Martyrs.

The names of the policemen and the
Christians have been independently verified. The photographer, an
"insider," assured the police that these photos of their work
would go to their superiors as record of their conscientious
work, with the possibility of a promotion. Most of these
believers are in their street clothes. The Chinese Christians who
smuggled these photographs to us claim that the torture of
Christians is a weekly affair. The photographer is now in hiding
and will be for some years.

Eddie Lyle, executive director of
Release International said, "It is important for Christians in
the UK to see images such as these because they convey more than
words the reality of the experience of our brothers and sisters
in China.

The physical abuse was almost
unbearable, the mental torture was even worse. Throughout her
ordeal, Ma Yuquin could hear the sounds of her son being tortured
in the next room. They could hear each other's screams -
additional incentives to betray their friends and their

Recalling this, Ma Yuquin began to
sob. "They wanted me to hear (my son's) cries," she said. "It
broke my heart." According to trusted sources, Sister Yu was
beaten to death while in custody. Kristof verified what agencies
such as Release International have been reporting for years: This
kind of treatment has been common in China for more than half a
century. Citizens - whose only crime is worshipping God - are
burned with cigarettes, beaten with clubs and martyred for the

The actions we see are illegal in
China and are forbidden within the United Nations Human Rights
Charter, which China supports. We must take action to expose the
perpetrators of these atrocities. Every letter that can be
written should be written in order to bring pressure to bear on
the Chinese authorities."

The Chinese authorities deny the
truth of these claims and the authenticity of these

Is persecution good for the church?

There is always another side
to every story; here China expert Bob Fu asks the question "is
persecution a good thing?"

After hearing these stories and
seeing these pictures one would inevitably assume or at least
start questioning whether Christianity in China has any prospect
and opportunities to survive, let alone grow. This question was
clearly on the mind of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof
who wrote, "One of the ironies of Christianity in China is that
in the first half of the 20th century thousands of missionaries
proselytised freely and left a negligible imprint. Yet now, with
foreign missionaries banned and the Underground Church
persecuted, Christianity is flourishing in China with tens of
millions of believers."

Indeed, in 1949, there were only
834,000 Chinese Protestant members. In 1982, the estimate was 35
million Christians. In 1987, Christians in China estimated that
there were 50 million; and in 1991, a figure of 63 million was
given to Protestants and 12 million to Catholics. Today even the
officially registered church under the Three-Self Patriotic
Movement and the China Christian Council admit that there are
more than 15 million believers. But for every believer who
worships in TSPM churches, there are at least six to seven who
worship in their homes or in the "house churches".

....Is persecution good for the church?

The Chinese church is growing
rapidly, because it is persecuted. It is persecuted because
Chinese believers are standing firm as defenders of the

Since 1949, the history of the
church in China has been one of persecution and suffering. Yet by
going through different stages of suffering and persecution, the
church in China has been transformed from a timid,
"foreign-coloured" institutional church into a bold, indigenous,
institution-less church; and it has been changed from a dependent
mission church to an independent missionary church.


There are many ways in which we
can respond to such challenging pictures and articles. One is to
pray and another is to act. One way to act would be to send a
letter to the Premier of China. Below is a sample letter that you
could base correspondence to the Chinese authorities upon. It is
always preferable to phrase your concerns in your own

Why we should write a letter

We live in a democratic
society, and part of the privilege and responsibility of living
in a free society is that we have the freedom to choose to act
when faced with injustice and man¹s inhumanity to man.
The nature of our society and culture in the UK is that too often
we have failed to act, and we now reap the consequences.

To date the Chinese Embassy in
London has declined to accept petitions presented by delegations
protesting against China¹s flagrant abuses of Human
A personal letter, however, to the Premier of China will get
through, and will heighten their awareness of the growing levels
of discontent at their treatment of Christians in that
Please also take time to write to your MP and MEP recording your
disquiet and feelings as a result of reading this article. We
would like to know what reaction you receive.

Remember that inaction is the most eloquent form of action.

Editor’s note: to view some
of the photo’s referred to; please visit enough magazine