Revival In China – “You Pray, We Will Pray. God Will Make It Happen”

When Open Doors’ founder, Brother Andrew, returned from his first trip to China in 1965, he felt extremely discouraged. It was a miracle that he had even received a visa and could take along a stack of Bibles. On his first trip, he didn’t meet one dedicated Christian.

Today, over 50 years later, Open Doors has delivered millions of Bibles and Christian literature into China and trained hundreds of thousands of Christians in the Bible.

In 1966, a year after Andrew’s first visit, Chairman Mao Zedong began his brutal Cultural Revolution. House churches became illegal and were fiercely persecuted. Many Christians suffered in jails and labor camps, facing torture and even murder.

When Chairman Mao died in 1976, other Communist leaders were arrested and China’s extreme persecution of Christians eased. Finally, the door to China began to open.

In 1979 a Chinese Christian, Mama Kwang, approached Open Doors with a daunting request. “We need 35,000 New Testaments. Can you bring them to us?” The Open Doors team didn’t think it was possible. “You pray and we will pray,” Mama Kwang told them. “God will make it happen.”

Mama Kwang with Brother Andrew.

Mama Kwang with Brother Andrew.

A team of 30 volunteers managed to get 30,000 pocket-sized New Testaments into 60 suitcases. “We called it Project Rainbow, but our volunteers dubbed it Project Hernia,” joked the project manager. “A few volunteers were caught at the border over the ten days, but nobody was arrested and the New Testaments were retrieved with a volunteer taking them to China.”

God’s providence boosted the confidence of the Chinese Christians. Mama Kwang returned and this time asked for a million Bibles. “Impossible,” was the response. The forceful Chinese lady folded her hands. “You pray and we will pray. God will make it happen.”

In 1981, the million Bibles were successfully delivered. You might have heard of this project, Project Pearl, but you might not have heard that it started with one Chinese woman and prayer.

A house church in China in the late 1980s.

A house church in China in the late 1980s.

Pastor Zhang describes the state of the church during the Cultural Revolution, “Not even pastors had Bibles, only top leaders possessed a Bible. Some pastors hand-copied the Bible. Most leaders preached by singing hymns. This changed in the early 80’s when overseas Christians on behalf of Open Doors started to bring us large quantities of printed Bibles. We carried the Bibles on our back and distributed them from town to town.”

Pastor Zhang was imprisoned several times for his faith, but he did not lose faith. In fact, he kept evangelising in prison. Pastor Zhang is grateful to Open Doors and the thousands of foreign brothers and sisters who supported the Chinese church. “You helped to lay a solid foundation for a large and strong church today in China. Thank you so much for what you have done.”

Chinese believers worshipping.

Not long after Project Pearl, China started its own Bible printing press. In the past 30 years around 80 million Bibles have been printed.

“China has changed considerably since my first visit in 1965,” Brother Andrew observed. “The country was as closed as an oyster. Now the doors are wide open for the Gospel. God has used our work to fuel one of the greatest revivals in human history. Searching for the most persecuted and helping them is not easy. There will be resistance. But you pray in China and we will pray in our countries. God will make it happen.”

Persecution In 2016 

In 2016, the government has a new attack to stop the rapid increase of Christianity. The Communist Party has  recently created much tougher laws that criminalise Christians if they do not pledge loyalty to the state.

The new laws give the Communist Party the ability to employ and fire church leaders at will. It will also give them the power to control religious doctrine to make it more ‘Chinese’.

According to an interview with ABC News, one church pastor says, “Jesus Christ is my only belief, my only loyalty is to Jesus Christ. God says you should love your enemies, if they are hungry give them food to eat, if they are thirsty give them water to drink, so we will pray for the non-believers.”

Over 1,500 crosses have been removed from churches in China over the last year. Some have been burnt or demolished. (Image:ABC news, Wayne Mcallister)

Over 1,500 crosses have been removed from churches in China over the last year. Some have been burnt or demolished. (Image: ABC news, Wayne Mcallister)

The government has torn down over 1,500 crosses from church buildings over the last year. Our Open Doors’ Asia analyst calls it, “The most blatant attack on the Church since the Cultural Revolution – under the guise of enforcing building-code regulations.”

Despite attack on official church buildings, there are still millions of believers still meeting house churches.

Some estimates say that by 2030, China will have the world’s largest Christian population.

The Communist Party has tried to destroy the church before and failed. In the past, persecution has brought church growth. We will continue to pray for revival in China.

This story is featured in Frontline Faith Magazine – Revival Edition.

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Christian Towns Liberated From ISIS: In Pictures

On Monday 17 October 2016 Iraq’s Prime Minister al-Abadi announced an historic operation to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State. Since then, the advance of Iraqi, Kurdish, and allied forces against Islamic State has proceeded far quicker than expected.

Christians towns such as Qaraqosh, Bartella and Karamles have all been liberated from Islamic State forces.

Open Doors received photos and video from the frontline, as church leaders returned to their villages and churches for the first time. They restored fallen crosses, salvaged ancient Christian manuscripts and rang the church bells in celebration!

QARAQOSH

Cross pulled down on the top of a church in Qaraqosh.

Cross pulled down on the top of a church in Qaraqosh.

A church tower looks ready to collapse in Qaraqosh.

A church tower looks ready to collapse.

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Christian Girls Hid While Islamic State Invaded Their Home in Iraq

Last weekend, seven female Christian students were rescued after being trapped by Islamic State fighters for several hours, in a surprise attack on Kirkuk, Southeast of Mosul.van-2

“Suddenly their street was filled with Islamic State warriors shouting ‘Alahu Akbar,’” Father Ammar shared. “Most students were able to leave their houses in time, but seven girls couldn’t escape.”

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Mosul Liberation: Why It’s Significant To Christians

Mosul was Iraq’s second largest city before the Islamic State conquered it in June 2014. Right now the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces are embarking on an operation to liberate the city.

“For the first time in 1,600 years, there has been no Mass said in Mosul today.” – Archbishop of Erbil, June 2014.

Mosul’s Significance To Christians

Mosul was home to one of the largest Christian communities in Iraq before the 2003 invasion by US and coalition forces. Prior to the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq had a Christian population of 1.5 million. By 2003 this had dropped 850,000 and now we estimate this to be around 250,000.

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30 Minutes To Leave Mosul

It was a hot afternoon in Mosul. When Amer* turned on his mobile phone, it seemed to explode with messages and missed calls.

“Haven’t you heard? You are a Christian. If you don’t leave Mosul by 12 midday you will be killed unless you convert.”

Amer’s heart raced. It was 11.30 am. 

It was June 2014 in Mosul, Amer’s hometown. Islamic State, then known as ISIS, had swiftly taken over his city. Christian houses were marked with an ‘N’ for Nasrani – meaning Christian, and scores of Christians left the city right away.

Images: Click image to read caption.

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4 Surprisingly Good News Stories From The Persecuted Church

On Thursday 13 October 2016, 21 of the kidnapped Chibok girls were released. For two-and-a-half years we have been praying with the parents for the release of these girls. 

It feels like it’s not often we hear good news like this. But today, we’re thankful to share this and 3 other good news stories from the persecuted church in Pakistan, Iraq and Burkina Faso! Continue reading

21 Chibok Girls Released: Everything You Need To Know

Boko Haram has released 21 of the girls kidnapped from Chibok over two years ago. The girls were released into care of the Nigerian Army in Maidugiri, capital of Borno state where the Islamist group has been it’s strongest.

In the middle of the night on 14 April 2014, 275 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their dormitories in the village of Chibok, Nigeria. While over 50 managed to escape straight away, before today only 2 other girls had been found.

An Open Doors contact in close contact with parents of the Chibok girls says, “When I first spoke to the parents after the news broke, they told me they had not heard about it. Later they called to confirm the report, but at that time had not been contacted by the government yet. They are eagerly awaiting word from them.”

Here is what we know so far. Continue reading