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House church in China - Photo: Radio Free Asia www.rfa.org
House church in China
Photo: Radio Free Asia

The founder of the Bethel Church near Zhangjiajie, Hunan, was formally arrested on charges of "incitement to subvert state power" on April 2nd. Just weeks prior, state security officials had raided the home of Zhao Huaiguo in the early morning of March 14th, taking him into custody.

Although there are few details on the specifics leading to the charges, Zhao's wife, Zhang Xinghong, says the arrest was likely due to him speaking to foreign news agencies about the COVID-19 pandemic. Another probable factor was his consistent refusal to merge his church with the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement, which resulted in harassment from authorities.

Last year, when the church was raided by nearly 50 government agents, Bibles, hymnals and musical instruments were confiscated and church property was damaged. Authorities have also been examining the church's finances in an attempt to find evidence of foreign influence, but their investigation has been hampered by the Christians' refusal to cooperate with the officials' tactics.

Action against the Bethel Church is reflective of the Communist government's nationwide campaign to eliminate non-official church communities. The government considers Christianity a foreign import and a way for "western hostile forces" to infiltrate the country. For more information on the persecution of Christians in China, go to our country report.

Please pray that Zhao will receive proper legal representation and justice during the court proceedings, as well as needed spiritual strength and encouragement throughout the process. May the members of the Bethel Church he founded receive opportunities to continue with worship and fellowship. Also intercede for the country's governing authorities, praying that they will not only cease in their campaign against religion, and thus allow freedom of worship for every citizen, but that they would personally discover the reality of the Risen Christ themselves.

Current Ministry Projects

The Voice of the Martyrs Canada continues to help distribute Bibles to Christians in the country, making it possible for them to have their own printed version of God's Word. Additionally, VOMC works with various mission partners to facilitate a Biblical understanding of persecution and discipleship, while presenting ways to effectively respond and minister within the context of hostility.

Project Funds: Bibles, Equipping the Saints, Underground Church

Country Information

Designation
Persecuted

Population
1,394,015,977 (July 2020 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Han Chinese (91.6), Zhuang (1.3), Other (7.1)

Religion (%)
Buddhism (18.2), Christianity (5.1), Islam (1.8), folk religion (21.9), Hinduism (<0.1), Judaism (<0.1), other (0.7), unaffiliated (52.2)

Leader
President Xi Jinping (2013)

Government type
Communist party-led state

Legal system
Based on civil law system; influenced by Soviet and continental European civil law systems

Sources: CIA World Factbook

Pray for China

Pray that the Gospel will be proclaimed throughout China without government interference so many more names can be added to the Lamb's "Book of Life." May there also be a spirit of unity demonstrated among the country's growing churches, further strengthening existing believers and spurring them on in their ministry service and evangelistic outreach within the country's numerous communities.

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