How many Christians are there in China?
China’s Christian community currently stands at around 96.7 million – just under seven per cent of the country’s total population.
How are Christians persecuted in China?
Surveillance in China is among the most oppressive and sophisticated in the world. Church attendance is rigorously monitored, and many churches are being closed down – whether they are independent or belong to the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (the officially state-sanctioned Protestant church in China). It remains illegal for under-18s to attend church. All meeting venues had to close during the Covid-19 crisis, but some churches were forced to remain closed once restrictions began to lift and were quietly phased out. The old idea that churches will only be perceived as being a threat if they become too large, too political or invite foreign guests, is now an unreliable guideline.
Christian leaders are generally the main target of government surveillance, and a very small number have been abducted. “They are simply snatched away,” says an Open Doors source, “only to appear months later in a kind of house arrest, where they get re-educated.”
If someone is discovered to have converted from Islam or Tibetan Buddhism, their family and community will usually threaten or abuse them. Their husbands may be pressured to divorce them, to persuade them to reconvert. Neighbours may report any Christian activities to the authorities or the village head, who would take action to stop believers.
“More than two dozen monks and devout Buddhists came to Christ!” Herman, a Christian missionary
What’s life like for Christians in China?
Herman* is a Christian missionary who felt called by God to share the gospel with a Buddhist ethnic minority group. This was risky; Christians who leave Buddhism to follow Jesus in that area are sometimes pelted with rocks and attacked by angry Buddhists. Some have even had their homes destroyed and their government benefits cancelled.
But Herman was obedient to God’s call. He and his team decided, after much prayer, to hold an evangelistic meeting for a group of Buddhist monks and their followers. “If they surrender to Jesus, there is every chance they will be persecuted. We might be attacked too. But like Jesus, that won’t stop us from declaring that the Kingdom of God has come.”
The risk paid off: more than two dozen monks and devout Buddhists became Christians! But where the gospel bears fruit, opposition is never far away. Recently, the local authorities found Herman and told him he is no longer welcome in the area. They barred him from holding any more meetings and locals were warned not to contact him. Herman and his team had no alternative but to leave the village.
Some of the new believers left the group out of fear; some asked Herman to keep teaching them. Open Doors is working with Herman to build partnerships with other churches in the region to help disciple the new group of believers from Buddhist backgrounds.
*Name changed for security reasons
How can I help Christians in China?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in China. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors supports believers in China with discipleship and persecution survival training, and by providing contextualised Christian literature to believers who've converted from Islam or Buddhism.
Is it getting harder to be a Christian in China?
Although there’s been no change in rank on the World Watch List this year, persecution levels in China have gone up slightly, largely because Christians are facing increased pressure from the Chinese authorities.
Lord God, please bless Christians in China, who worship You while facing such risks. Please give them peace, joy and strength, and enable communities to worship You in spirit and truth, despite intense surveillance. We pray that Chinese churches will be led by the Holy Spirit and equipped to face any form of oppression that comes their way. May they learn to discern each season and respond with wisdom and maturity. Strengthen and sustain Your children throughout China. Amen.