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Photo: ChinaAid

December 30, 2012, marked the 53rd outdoor worship service of the year for the Beijing Shouwang Church. Despite the arrests of at least 15 participating believers, thankfully all of them were released by noon that same Sunday.

The outdoor worship services are very meaningful for these dedicated believers, especially considering that the overall number of arrests and detentions of Christians in China remained high in 2012. Another concern is that those imprisoned in China are often tortured and medically neglected. The spread of Christianity -- outside the official church (which is controlled and regulated by the government) -- is seen as a threat by communist authorities. You can learn more about this by reviewing the China Country Report.

A representative of the church reports: "By God's grace, we have gone through this past year while holding outdoor services. We give thanks to God for His protection, and we also give thanks for each believer...persevering through this past year.... As we look back, we want to praise the Lord from the bottom of our hearts: "You crown the year with Your bounty, and Your carts overflow with abundance" (Psalm 65:11 NIV).... May the Lord strengthen us to follow Him, and may our church continue to experience [His] grace and victory!"

Let's stand with our fellow believers in China as they seek God's continued strength, grace and victory for the year ahead. Pray for the church to flourish and thrive in the midst of many challenges. As a result, may there be a spiritual awakening in their land and the beginning of a great revival!