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CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA

China is populated by 1.4 billion people. Generous estimates are that about 100 million of the 1.4 billion people are Christians. Of those 100 million Christians, about 25 million belong to the officially sanctioned Christian Church of China called the 3-self church. The Chinese Communist government oversees the property, worker training programs, publishing and distribution of materials, and teaching content of the legal registered 3-self churches. For example: In China it is against the law to baptize people who are under the age of 18. It is against the law for Christians to gather or worship outdoors. It is against the law for a group of Christians to build and privately own a church building or Christian school. The Chinese government regularly and randomly shut down Christian websites or Christian broadcasts into China.

In spite of the Chinese Communist control of the 3-self Christian church, Christianity is growing rapidly. It is estimated that God raises up between 3 to 6 thousands new Christians every day. Most of these Christians end up in the “house churches” in China which are not part of the legal Christian system. In effect most new Christians are “underground” Christians.

The Chinese government is not sure what to do about the roughly 75% of Christians in China who are not part of the legal Christian church. So they keep a close watch on them. In 2012 the Chinese government announced that they would attempt to “find out and register” all the underground churches in China. It is not uncommon for house churches to be spied on in any number of ways. The Chinese government can enter any home, apartment or facility where non-registered Christians gather. There is no recourse as government authorities search through written documents and computers seeking information about Christians who gather there. The Chinese government has also announced a new initiative in 2013. They want to make sure that what is said as to the purpose of the visa granted by the Chinese government, matches exactly with what the holder of the visa is actually doing while in China. Most Christian missionaries enter into the mainland as tourists or are working at a “job” that does not truly exist for a Company that exists only on paper.

Much of the persecution faced by underground Christianity these days is “subtle but effective.” If the Chinese government wants to shut down a group of illegal Christians, they quietly contact the landlord who rents the apartments used by Christians for office, library, classroom spaces or worship area. The landlords (who may be sympathetic to the Christians – or even be part of the group) are told by the Chinese government to double the price or refuse to renew the lease. If the Chinese government discovers that a Christian missionary is crossing the boarder with too much Christian material or intends not to be a tourist – no visa will be issued to enter the country or they may be sent directly home. No explanation will be given. At other times government officials simply declare that a Christian group must be downsized, broken down into groups of 2 or 3 or eliminated entirely. A Chinese citizen (Christian leader) can be taken to a “re-education camp” for up to 4 years. There will be no trial or chance to defend oneself. There is no recourse.

On the other hand, there is so much Christian activity that the government cannot keep up with it. The Chinese government understands that most Christians quietly go about their business. They are helpful to the people and do not intend to cause the Chinese government any harm. So there is often a “double standard.” Some Christian groups are quietly disbanded while other groups are allowed to continue. Even though the Chinese officials are well aware of who is coming and going and what the Christian group is doing. Hong Kong is part of China. But there is little government interference in Hong Kong against Christians.

It is very important for individual western Christians to support the work of the underground Christians in China at this time in history. First, Christian leaders need to be trained now. These are first generations Christians. They do not have enough leaders. Second, it is not clear what the Chinese government will do with western Christians who come and go into and out of China. Therefore, we must train adequate and highly capable Chinese Christian leaders while there is still a chance to do so.

By God’s grace and through various connections, contributors to the Russell Buck Fund are able to directly support Christian leaders of the underground church work who are currently being trained as pastors. The infrastructure and security measures for this work have been put in place by others – and paid for by others. Therefore, 100% of the Russell Buck Fund goes directly to support the various Chinese workers you see on the website. Because the western missionaries work with these Chinese Christian leaders on a daily basis -- and also speak Mandarin fluently – there is no doubt that the Russell Buck Fund monies are serving their intended purpose. Reports about the work God is doing through the underground Chinese Christian leaders will be factual.


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