How many Christians are there in China?
China’s growing Christian community currently stands at around 96.7 million – just under seven per cent of the country’s total population.
What does persecution look like in China?
Surveillance in China is among the most oppressive and sophisticated in the world. Church attendance is rigorously monitored, and many churches are being closed down—whether they are independent or belong to the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (the officially state-sanctioned Protestant church in China). It remains illegal for under-18s to attend church. All meeting venues had to close during the COVID-19 crisis, but some churches were forced to remain closed once restrictions began to lift, and were quietly phased out. The old truth that churches will only be perceived as being a threat if they become too large, too political or invite foreign guests, is an unreliable guideline.
Christian leaders are generally the main target of government surveillance, and a very small number have been abducted. "They are simply snatched away,” says an Open Doors source, “only to appear months later in a kind of house arrest, where they get re-educated.’’
If someone is discovered to have converted from Islam or Tibetan Buddhism, their family and community will usually threaten or abuse them. Their husbands may be pressured to divorce them, to persuade them to reconvert. Neighbors may report any Christian activities to the authorities or the village head, who would take action to stop believers.
Converts from a Muslim or Buddhist background from minority ethnic groups arguably face the most severe violations of religious freedom, because they are persecuted not only by the authorities but also by their families and communities. Consequently, places where Christian persecution is particularly rife include Xinjiang, Tibet and western China.
Herman is a Chinese missionary to a Buddhist community
"More than two dozen monks and devout Buddhists came to Christ!"Herman
What has changed compared to last year?
Persecution levels in China have gone up slightly, largely because Christians are facing increased pressure from the Chinese authorities. In other areas of life, persecution has remained almost or completely stable, with church life being where Christians face the most persecution.
Open Doors supports believers in China with discipleship and persecution survival training, and by providing contextualised Christian literature to believers who've converted from Islam or Buddhism.
- Please pray that despite intense surveillance, faith will flourish in China and more people will discover God's love.
- Pray that local Open Doors partners will be able to reach vulnerable Christians with vital Christian literature, training and fellowship.
- Pray for the authorities in China to recognise the importance of religious freedom, and allow the church to gather and worship without restrictions.
Dear Lord, please bless Christians in China who worship You while facing such risks. Please give them peace, joy and strength, and enable communities to worship You in spirit and truth, despite intense surveillance. We pray that Chinese churches will be led by the Holy Spirit and equipped to face any form of oppression that comes their way. May they learn to discern each season and respond with wisdom and maturity. Strengthen and sustain Your children throughout China. Amen.