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ICC Note: Christian home churches in China are attracting more and more people because the Biblical message is able to be given in its entirety without the government controlling the focus. However, the increase in attendance and interest in the house churches has caused the government to react negatively. Continue to pray for those who attend these house churches because consequences for doing so may become harsher.

Christian Home Churches Gaining in China

Editor’s Note: A greater number of Chinese are gravitating toward Christian home churches, sometimes to the dismay of local Chinese governments. NAM contributor Jun Wang recently graduated from the Graduate School of Journalism at U.C. Berkeley. She worked as a correspondent for the Xinhua News Agency in China and Egypt .

New America Media (8/5/06) – Like she does each Sunday morning, Yao Liu takes a seat among the 30 others crammed in a tiny apartment in northwest Beijing to pray. Sunday services are held in the 500-square-foot, two-room flat where worshippers sit in cramped rows on folding stools. Most are

current or former students of Peking University , known as the birthplace of democracy and science in China .

Like Liu, 33, there are an estimated 80 to 100 million Christian church-goers in China , according to Vatican Radio, which means they outnumber the Chinese Communist Party’s 70 million members.

In a society where atheism and Darwinism are still recognized as the official truth, an increasing number of Chinese citizens are gravitating toward home churches to fulfill spiritual hungers.

For years the government tolerated home churches, but more recently the growth in attendance and influence of these churches spurred the government to publish a national Religious Ordinance on March 1, 2005. Churches are required to supply a list of names of 30 members from each home church in order to be registered.

The only Christian churches the Chinese government recognizes are the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Churches, which the government established under a policy of “self-governance, self-support, and self-propagation” to eliminate influence from foreign countries. The Three-Self Churches adopted these regulations shortly after the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949.

Many attend the home churches because of their convenience. There are not enough government-recognized churches for all those who wish to worship. Others go because they do not like the state-sanctioned churches; they argue that Jesus is the only true leader of church, not the government.

Despite the risk of being interrogated or even arrested, Liu’s church leaders have decided not to register, although they acknowledge that the government already knows about their membership because the local police turned over the information.

Situations vary dramatically across China depending on local governments’ attitudes to Christianity and home churches. Wenzhou city, renowned for its commodity business in Zhejiang Province , one of the economically most developed areas in China , is called China ‘s Jerusalem for its large Christian population. People are largely free to worship. But in some less developed provinces, such as Henan in central China , home church goers are interrogated or even arrested from time to time.

As early as 6 a.m. on Sundays, people can be seen lining up in front of churches in many big and small towns around the country. There’s often room for only the early ones to worship. Some, like Liu, first went to the home churches out of curiosity. Liu, was doing research on Christianity when a friend invited her to the fellowship in 2001…[Go To Full Story]