Chinese Pastor Respond to Criticisms on Beijing Watchtower Church’s Outdoor Services
Chinese Pastor gives his side to how churches are forced to shut down by the government
By Tian Wei
12/01/09 China (GospelHerald)–In recent days, Beijing Watchtower Church held their Sunday service outdoor due to pressures received from the local authorities, which aroused some criticisms on their methods; Rev. Liu Tong Su, who has been keeping a close watch on the house church development in China, wrote an article in response.
Liu titled his article “Being the Watchman for the Entire Society.” Although he isn’t a member of Watchtower Church nor does he represent them, he explained that he is only expressing his opinion on the incident from the position of an evangelical pastor and Christian scholar. He is writing for the sake of love towards the entire congregation and coworkers of Watchtower Church and concern for other friends in Christ who shared the same vision. He again clarified that he isn’t behind the Watchtower Church as rumor says, nor did he ever have any co-working relationships with the church.
In response to opinions that criticizes Watchtower Church’s conduct as “political”, Liu disagreed. He pointed out that outdoor gathering isn’t to challenge the government, nor is it “political or a power-struggle”, but there is only one purpose – to hold regular church service in the midst of persecution.
Similar to Beijing Watchtower Church who received the criticisms, Chengdu Qiuyu Church also received the same kinds of attacks since their outdoor events since June. Liu observed that besides the criticisms from those who are obviously politically motivated much of the reproaches originate from within the churches, including those in China and overseas, which made him feel that the churches still have many misunderstandings towards the actual situation of the house churches, so he motivated him more to clarify the relevant facts and concepts through the Watchtower Church incident.
House Churches Have no Intentions to Challenge the Government, but are Victims of Deprivation
The point brought up in most reproaches is “Why use outdoor gatherings to challenge the government?” Liu said their outdoor gatherings in the past or present are held without a choice. Local authorities have persecuted the landlords, whom they’ve rented spaces from, causing some house churches to have to move out from the offices to hold gatherings.
“There isn’t any house church that will actively go outdoors to hold services; the government deprived the house churches of their gathering space, so without any other choices they had to have gatherings outdoor. This is a basic fact.”
On Oct. 18, Liu met with pastor and elders of Watchtower Church. During their meeting, they’ve earnestly and worriedly declared that “Watchtower Church really doesn’t want to hold outdoor gatherings.” They are making their best efforts to sign the contract for purchasing a new building before Nov. 1, but twice the negotiations for purchasing the new building was interrupted by some departments and terminated without any reasons given. These obvious facts and the clear rights and wrongs are placed in front of us, “Who is the aggressor, who is the victim, these things can easily be distinguished as right and wrong.”