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« on: January 04, 2005, 01:22:41 AM »

Despite the Cost, Millions Flock to Chinese House Churches

by Allie Martin
January 3, 2005

(AgapePress) - A spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs is encouraging Christians to use the start of the year to remember, to pray for, and to take action on behalf of persecuted Chinese Christians.

Communist officials in China recently arrested a top house church leader. And this past summer, a Chinese Christian was allegedly beaten to death after being arrested for handing out Bibles in public. Those are only two recent examples of the persecution of believers in Communist China. But despite the inherent dangers of professing faith in Jesus Christ, the Christian church in that country continues to grow.

China outlaws churches that are not sanctioned by the government. Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs says the staggering growth of the Chinese Christian church puts communist government officials on edge.

"The house churches are growing at just an incredibly rapid rate," Nettleton shares, "and that is what is making the communists so nervous -- because there are now more house church Christians in China than there are members of the Communist Party."

According to the VOM spokesman, many believers choose to meet in secret, away from the watchful eye of communist officials. And those believers, he explains, realize they may face a high price for their faith.

"When they come to know Christ," he says, "they come with the idea 'I'm going to have to pay something for this.'" That is very different from the mentality found in many American churches, Nettleton says, where people have the idea that if they come to know Christ, their life will become "a lot better and a lot easier."

"[But] in China, they come with the idea that 'I'm going to follow Jesus because I know He's real, because I know He can forgive my sins -- but I also know there's going to be a price to be paid.'"

Nettleton says Christians in America should petition both the Bush administration and the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, for better treatment of believers in China. It is estimated there are now between 80 and 100 million Christians in China.


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