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A View

“The Opening Ceremony show was absolutely AMAZING!!! So high-tech and the 15,000 Chinese who participated in the ceremony were flawless in doing their Tai chi routines and other synchronized movements with thousands. It reminded me of the the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) — a prideful world in rebellion to God. It's so sad that so much talent goes to the glory of false gods and sinful human pride.

“It is joyful to think of God's Kingdom there — even if it is underground only for a season. Then the meek shall inherit the earth and the proud will be tormented for eternity in the address created for Satan and his demons. What a ceremony/celebration when Jesus rules on the earth!!!”

— Pastor Derek Fullerton, at-large member of Climbing For Christ's Board of Directors (Aug. 9, 2008)

News Brief

President Bush worships at state church

News report from The Associated Press:

BEIJING – President Bush, in a clear reference to China's tight control of churches, said Sunday, Aug. 10, that no country should “fear the influence” of religious freedom.

His comments came with added punch as he delivered them after attending church services in the heart of the Chinese capital during Beijing's Olympic moment.

China allows worship only in officially approved churches such as the one Bush visited Sunday with his wife, so millions of people pray privately in house churches to avoid detection. The Chinese government has bristled at Bush's prodding as meddling.

Bush spoke of the great joy he felt while worshipping in the church, where a children's choir performed Amazing Grace in English and Chinese. With the children surrounding him, he made a brief statement afterward on the steps outside of the church to media standing in a pouring rain.

“It just goes to show that God is universal,” Bush said. “No state, man or woman should fear the influence of loving religion.”

Our comment:

President Bush could have made an even bolder statement about Christianity in China if he had attended a house church to worship, rather than going to the government-run church. Bob Fu of China Aid Association met with President Bush before the president went to China. He gave him directions to four house churches that would have welcomed him.

Instead, he attended a “staged” worship at Kuanjie Protestant Church, according to the China Aid Association, which also reported the arrest of two brothers regarded as Christian social activists. They were on their way to the Kuanjie church when Chinese police stopped them.

“They won’t give the ordinary believers of the church a chance to meet President Bush or overseas media,” the China Aid Association reported on its U.S.-based Web site. “Most people President Bush and the overseas media will meet in the church are security people, political workers and people trained by them to pose as believers.”

Even those who regularly attend Kuanjie were reportedly not allowed to worship there on Aug. 10. President Bush has been a supporter of the Chinese House Church and religious freedom within China since his inauguration.

A View

Memo to Asians worldwide who were “outraged” by the men's basketball team from Spain, which posed for a photograph making slanted eyes: Focus on the bigger picture.

How about being outraged and protest the many human rights violations committed by the Olympic host country, China, before and during these Games?

Some people are speaking out. Doing so in China has resulted in numerous deportations. The Chinese themselves face far worse consequences. Chinese media received 21 edicts about coverage, including “As for the pro-Tibetan independence and East Turkistan movements, no coverage is allowed.”

Christian pastors continued to be rounded up by authorities. The pastor who was the inspiration for the Voice of the Martyrs' “Pray for China” bracelet was in jail, according to media reports.

China's strong-arm tactics were not limited to its borders, either. The Associated Press reported that Nepalese police clashed with Tibetan protesters and detained more than 500 of them Thursday in Katmandu. The protesters held banners that said “Shame on you IOC” and waved banners that said “Beijing 2008” with sketches of Chinese soldiers shooting at Tibetans.

Let's set aside our penchant for political correctness and focus on human correctness.

Gary Fallesen
President, Climbing For Christ
Posted Aug. 16, 2008

Pray for China

State Department: Chinese targeted religious groups before Olympics

News flash: On Friday, Sept. 19, the U.S. State Department released a report stating that the Chinese government increased its harassment of religious minorities before the Olympic Games.

Climbing For Christ and other Christian groups working in China announced in early August — before the Summer Games were hosted in Beijing — that the Chinese government was increasing persecution of Christians.

This has now been confirmed by the U.S. State Department.

Over the past year, “repression of religious freedom intensified in some areas” in China, including in the Tibetan region, the State Department said in its Annual Report on Religious Freedom. As the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games approached, some unregistered Protestant religious groups in Beijing reported intensified harassment from government authorities and said the government cracked down on home churches, the report said.

The State Department found that over the past year, Chinese officials also detained and interrogated several foreigners about their religious activities, alleged that the foreigners had engaged in “illegal religious activities” and canceled their visas.

The Annual Report on Religious Freedom singled out China, Myanmar, North Korea, Iran, Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan to “blacklist” because they are “countries of particular concern” when it comes to religious oppression.

Posted Sept. 19, 2008

 

A View

Continue to pray for China
 
How will they know if no one tells them? It is the age-old question dating to the time of the Apostle Paul. It is part of our call to “go” and to deliver the Good News.
 
There was a great deal of news delivered from China and the Summer Olympics, which came to a close on Sunday. There has also been some bad news about the delivery of His Word.
 
Earlier this week four Americans were detained in Kunming in southwestern China after customs officials found 300 Bibles in their luggage. In China, it is illegal to import more printed religious material than you would be using yourself. In other words, you are permitted to bring your Bible, but don’t bring another Bible to share with a brother or sister in Christ. This is China’s idea of religious freedom.
 
People in China can buy the Bible. But just as they are “free” to worship, there are stipulations when it comes to buying the Bible. They can worship the Lord in a government-sanctioned church and they must also buy a Bible in one of those church buildings.
 
The problem is, house churches – which are illegal in the eyes of the atheist government – have grown faster than the supply of Bibles. Recently, the only publisher permitted to print the Bible in China celebrated its 50 millionth copy. But it is estimated that there are more than 100 million Christians in China. Also, that company is now allowed to export The Book because, it learned, there is money to be made elsewhere.
 
This is why groups carry Bibles into the country. It is called “smuggling,” by the Chinese government. But then house worship is also thought to be against the law.
 
These are the real games being played in China, where hundreds of Christian leaders remain in custody or have been relocated far from the world media covering the Olympics in and around Beijing. We are praying that these believers will be released after the Closing Ceremony and areas, such as the Sichuan Province, where the devastating earthquake struck on May 12, will be opened to those who will be sent.
 
Please continue to pray for those who believe in Jesus in China. May they be strong in their faith in the face of persecution.

— Gary Fallesen
President, Climbing For Christ
Posted Aug. 24, 2008

 

More was at stake than Olympic medals

By Gary Fallesen
President, Climbing For Christ

All that glitters through the bad air surrounding the Summer Olympics was not gold. Despite the wasteful billions of dollars that went into putting on the best “face” (from the remodeled Beijing airport to the new stadiums to the ability to bomb the clouds to keep it from raining on the Opening Ceremony), China was a host country that may be gracious to guests but treats its own inhospitably.

Dream on, China. A sign of the Olympic times posted next to one of four state-run Three Self Patriotic Movement churches in Beijing.

Bob Fu, a pastor from China who escaped to the United States as a religious refugee in 1997 and founded the China Aid Association, said before the Games that there was a “severe crackdown” on house churches in and around Beijing “in the name of anti-terrorism.”

Eighty percent of the guestimated 100 million Christians in China attend house churches. From the end of April to the start of the Olympics, house churches found close to where the Games were played were under attack. It was officially called the “Special Struggle Against Illegal Christian Activities.”

By definition an illegal Christian activity is anything involving Jesus outside the state-sanctioned (read: state-run) church. Because it has the Three Self Patriotic Movement Church, the communist government of China claims there is religious freedom in its country.

Not so.

Chinese troops descended on areas of Southwest and Western China after Tibetan uprisings earlier this year. The heavy military presence continues.

House churches, like the one Pastor Fu started in Beijing before he went to jail and then fled the country, were closed in the months leading up to the Olympics. Believers were fingerprinted and videotaped, Bibles confiscated, and pastors arrested and thrown out of their homes, according to Pastor Fu.

House church pastors found themselves homeless and relocated into the country.

It was an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, said Todd Nettleton from The Voice of the Martyrs. “The government doesn’t want foreign media to interview Christians,” Nettleton said in a conference call on the eve of the Games.

The Voice of the Martyrs encouraged its members to pray for the church in China.

“As the Olympics approach, much of the media shows a polished, public image of China declaring that Chinese people have religious freedom,” Lyn Edmunds wrote in the August 2008 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter. “Yet, in the shadow of the Olympic Games are our suffering brothers and sisters. Chinese Christians love their country and feel the Olympics will be a crucial crossroads for the future of Christianity in China. They ask us to pray with them.”

Climbing For Christ joined our brothers and sisters in praying for China.

“Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself,” we are told in Hebrews 13:3. “Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.”

We prayed for them then, and we continue to pray for them after the Olympics end.

“What happens in September and October when the world media goes home and stops asking questions?” The Voice of the Martyrs’ Nettleton asked. “Especially pray for them after the Olympics when no one is looking.”

God will be watching, of course. He will judge those who have persecuted His people — from the village elder to those in the provincial government to the chairman of the communist party.

The dead Mao Zedong, father of the Cultural Revolution and atheism in China, is still revered and ever present in Beijing and beyond.

Half of the nation’s 30 provinces have reports of persecuted Christians, according to the annual study compiled by the China Aid Association. This includes areas of Southwest China and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The knowledge of eternal judgment doesn’t make enduring persecution any easier. Pray for strength for Christians in China. Pray for the future of Christianity in China.


Climbing For Christ visited China in April 2008.

Posted Aug. 8, 2008; updated Aug. 24, 2008

The Word

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” 
— James 5:16

HIStory

The Gospel arrived in China in the 19th Century. But to the Chinese the Christian God “wears a foreign face,” according to David Marshall, author of True Son of Heaven: How Jesus Fulfills the Chinese Culture.

Originally, it was linked to Western colonialism. This connection was made even worse after China lost the Second Opium War of 1858, resulting in the Treaty of Tianjin, which included a “toleration clause” that granted foreign missionaries the right to share their faith in China. Chinese saw this as Yang Jiao, which translates contemptuously into “foreign teaching.”

The connection between Christianity and the West caused the violent Boxer Rebellion of 1900, and was followed by a national anti-Christian movement that began in 1922.

The next serious wave of persecution came when the Communists seized power in 1949. Violence peaked during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976, during which all religions were banned and atheism was the state teaching.

On March 14, 1996, the government mandated that the people must rid themselves of what it considered backward superstitions, including miracles and healings. Those who did not were considered outlaws and considered members of “evil cults,” according to the China Aid Association.

Since then, China Aid says, “Christians in churches unrecognized by the socialist regime in Beijing continue to be harassed, oppressed, arrested, imprisoned, tortured and murdered for their faith in Jesus Christ. Most of these abuses are cloaked in secrecy for fear of offending Western trading partners and jeopardizing China’s fragile economy.” In other words, while gold, silver and bronze medals are being distributed to athletes from around the world, there is likely to be little news about persecution coming out of Beijing.

The Games continue.

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