In June Pastor Zhang from Zhongfu Canaan Church in Guangzhou (north of Hong Kong) was summoned by local authorities to discuss his unregistered church. Because his church is not part of the government approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement (a national network of Christian churches), the authorities called his group an “illegal gathering.” They also asked for a list of his members.
Zhang said, “The town government [that operates] in the village hasn’t come to find us yet, but the landlord said today that officials from the public security, firefighting and various other industry and commerce departments will soon enforce the law here. No [official] has come yet [to enforce], but the landlord is already very frightened. He said, ‘You need to move out immediately….’ This is our current circumstance.”
Action against house churches is uneven
In some areas of China Christians face continuing harassment from police. Members of house churches have been detained. But in other areas house churches are flourishing. Some have become quite large and carry out a variety of programs directed at strengthening their members and having a witness in society. They worship and practice their faith with little effort to hide their activities. How long that will continue is unknown.
Is a nationwide clamp down coming?
China’s President Xi Jinping has repeatedly demonstrated that he will not tolerate any dissent to his government’s laws. China has detained hundreds of civil-rights activists. The media are more controlled than ever.
According to the Economist.com, however, “he appears less keen, however, to take on the country’s fast-growing Christian community, as long as its members do not openly defy the Communist Party.”