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China: Confrontation, Arrests, Demolition - But Hope

August 10, 2006

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 390 - Wed 09 Aug 2006

The Dangshan church in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, with a
history back to 1921 has survived dispossession and persecution.
Recently members agreed private homes were no longer adequate to
accommodate the large numbers of people coming to hear the gospel.
A local Christian couple offered their land for the construction of
a sanctuary. Local authorities have however persistently refused
permission for a sanctuary even though the church has met
everything the new registration rules require.

Driven by their desperate need for a sanctuary, the Dangshan church
started building on 17 July and made quick progress. But on
Saturday 29 July government workers, anti-riot police and military
police with military vehicles surrounded the almost completed
building while Christians were praying inside. (Figures vary
enormously: from 500 to several thousand police; and believers
numbering 3,000 [BBC] to 10,000 [China Aid Association]. What is
clear this was a large-scale public event.) Reports say the police
used electric shock batons and anti-riot shields to disperse the
believers. Numerous believers were injured - some severely - and
several were arrested. The church building was totally demolished.
(China Aid Association has reports and a brief video of the
demolition at <
http://www.chinaaid.org/>.)

This demolition is but one example of the constant repression
experienced by the Chinese Church which is crying out for freedom.
On 19 July police detained, interrogated and later released more
than 60 house-church members in Henan Province. On 21 July police
detained and interrogated 20 believers in Hubei Province, eight of
whom received administrative (no charge required) 10 day to 15 day
jail terms. Gross human rights abuses including torture, murder and
large-scale slave labour persist in Chinese prisons and labour
camps. It has long been rumoured that prisoners are being used for
organ harvesting.

Meanwhile, China may not be as stable as it appears. As analyst
George Friedman notes, today the appeal of the Chinese Communist
Party (CCP) rests not in ideology but purely in its ability to
generate prosperity. If prosperity fades then the CCP is finished.
Friedman claims that around half of China\'s enterprises are not
economically viable and only keep operating because the government
feeds them cash to stave off unemployment and unrest. The CCP can
only survive into the future by violently repressing all threat and
dissent or by re-inventing itself and introducing social and
political reforms.

Presently the CCP appears to be juggling these options like hot
potatoes. Nationally the Maoists are in decline and top Chinese
scholars, including former senior Communists, are calling for
social and political reform with openness and liberty. Disturbed
Chinese authorities are trying to bring values back into corrupt,
atheistic, spiritually hungry China by reviving Confucianism. They
are also hoping to appease the poor, disaffected masses and
diffuse or redirect frustration, anger and fear by introducing
democracy at the margins of society. So while the CCP is
escalating its repression of dissent and persecution of the Church,
economic and social trends and political realities are pulling the
CCP in the direction of reform.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO -

* sustain and bless the Chinese Church: may the Holy Spirit bless
every word and act of courageous witness, and may Christ bless
the Church\'s faithful perseverance with growth in numbers,
spiritual fruit and wisdom.

* continue, even hasten, his wonderful work of opening Chinese
eyes, enlightening Chinese minds, touching Chinese hearts and
raising up Chinese voices of reform, for the sake of the gospel
and Kingdom and glory of God in China.

* direct China\'s leaders towards peaceful social and political
reform with openness and religious liberty that would bring
great blessing to the whole nation and the world.

\'The king\'s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a
watercourse wherever he pleases.\' Proverbs 21:1

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE:
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CHINA: CONFRONTATION, ARRESTS, DEMOLITION - BUT HOPE

On 29 July Chinese government workers, anti-riot police wielding
electric shock batons and military police in military vehicles
surrounded an unregistered church building in Hangzhou City,
Zhejiang Province. Some hundreds of police then forced the several
thousand Christians praying in the building to leave. Numerous
believers were injured - some severely - and several were arrested.
Then the bulldozers moved in and totally demolished the building.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is escalating its persecution of
the Church as well as its repression of information and dissent.
Meanwhile economic and social trends are pulling the CCP in the
direction of political and social reform. There is much to pray
about: for the Church to endure and grow and for God to direct
China\'s leaders towards openness and religious liberty. (Proverbs
21:1)

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.