Imagine if your church service closed, not with teas and coffees, but a raid by 20 uniformed officers? That’s what happened to a church in China, where Christians are experiencing intensifying surveillance and restriction under the country’s Communist regime, which last month celebrated its 20th National Congress. Please continue to pray for our family in China.
Christians in China are suffering under intensifying surveillance and restrictions – they need your prayers
Mochou* knew persecution would come. She even preached on it. But nothing prepared her for the moment when it arrived.
It happened four years ago at the end of a church service. More than 20 men in uniform stormed the building. After quickly ushering members out through the back door, Mochou was left alone with the officials. She felt overwhelmed, intimidated and helpless.
“I tried to stay composed,” recalls Mochou. “I even reacted to them aggressively in my attempt to mask my real emotions. I had to fake it until I make it out of that situation.” A two-hour interrogation followed.
The incident came in response to China’s revised religious laws, introduced in 2018, which includes a ban on under-18s attending church. Children were even among those interrogated in the aftermath of this particular raid, as officials followed up on a list that named church members.
"One time when I was praying, I believe I heard the Lord speak to me..." Mochou
People responded to the interrogations in different ways, reflecting the pressures that persecution brings.
“Those parents who were strong in their faith admitted to the authorities that they bring their children with them to church,” Mochou shares. “They courageously said, ‘If we are not going to take our children with us and leave them at home, who will take care of them?’
“But those who were still unstable in their faith blamed me and were angry at me for what happened,” she continues. “One member criticised me and complained, ‘What on earth are you doing? Those men came to our house and our children were afraid. You gave us trouble!’"
Another member, to protect herself, shared everything about Mochou and her ministry. “I felt betrayed,” says Mochou.
Five months after the incident, Mochou stepped away from church ministry. “The incident caused so much distress in my heart,” she says.
Mochou’s journey with church leadership began with what she felt was a clear call from God. “One time when I was praying, I believe I heard the Lord speak to me, ‘I will make you build a church that has no walls. My hands must strengthen yours.’”
Although she did not know exactly what this meant, Mochou chose to obey God by quitting her job and starting her own counselling business to reach out to more people.
This included having a counselling centre which doubled as a place for fellowship and worship services. Within a few years, a couple of hundred people were regularly attending church. “It came to a point where we had to hold two worship services: one in the morning and one in the afternoon to accommodate more people,” she recalls. “Men and women were desperately hungry for God.”
Despite no longer leading the church, Mochou continues to serve God through her work and grow in her faith. “Looking back on that experience, it was not unusual for Christians in China,” she reflects. “I owed a lot to our Father. Those events were a test – a test I need to pass.”
Mochou has been upheld by the support of other Christians – both locally and globally.
“When I was still a church leader, I thought that nobody cared for me,” she says. “But now that I am no longer leading the church, many church members invite me for dinner, some tell me that they pray for me every day, and others come to see me in different occasions. I am moved by their love and care.”
"They know that many people outside of China are walking alongside them, are journeying with them" Mochou
And then there is the global help and prayers of Open Doors supporters like you. “The training that they provided to our co-workers was uplifting,” continues Mochou. “The members were encouraged by the examples that were taken from the Bible. They know that they are never alone in the midst of persecution. They know that many people outside of China are walking alongside them, are journeying with them.”
Following the training, Mochou feels better equipped to stand strong in the face of further incidents. “That was the very first time I encountered persecution, without possessing enough wisdom and judgement, I reacted out of fear. I wanted to protect my co-workers. But if the same situation comes to us again, I will respond more boldly. I will let my co-workers and brothers and sisters face it together fearlessly, as we are one family.”
In many ways, the opposition has never gone away. Every year since the authorities raided her church, she has been visited by government officials. Her business has also been affected – it’s been blacklisted and social workers have been told to avoid her. “I was almost banned, but thankfully I am still here,” she says.
As for those who first terrified and interrogated her, Mochou holds no grudges – and is even passionate to reach out to them with God’s love.
“We should not be against them, we should understand that they are just performing their duty,” she says. “I still get invited for ‘tea meetings’ [a subtle form of interrogation over tea] but I take it as an opportunity to build better relationship with them and talk about Jesus. Recently, a local official came to talk to me, I shared with him about our Father and His love. His eyes became wide open, as if he can’t believe about God’s amazing love. Seeds are now sown in their hearts.”
*Name changed for security reasons
The World Watch List parliamentary launch represents a wonderful opportunity to highlight the plight of our persecuted family to those in power. Earlier this year, more than 90 MPs attended the event – and that's because they were invited by Open Doors supporters like you! Can you invite your MP to next year's event? It's taking place on Wednesday 18 January.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.