During the cultural revolution, there was the LONG MARCH and it was followed by a time of great silence. After the Communist Party took power in 1949, the Communist Party expeditiously and expediently kicked foreigners out of the country. They shut the doors to outsiders and cut off almost all political and economic ties with the rest of the world and launched one of the longest, largest, and most severe persecutions the world had ever seen – or in this case – hadn’t seen.
The world didn’t see because there was silence. Today, almost 75 years later, a similar eery silence that followed the Communist Revolution has returned.
The world did not get to witness the millions of deaths that were systematically carried out under the orders of Mao Zedong. They didn’t watch Christians tortured in re-education camps on their television. They didn’t see the thousands of Bibles stacked up and set on fire. They didn’t see these things, because China didn’t allow photo evidence to see the light of day in the western world. It wasn’t until eye witness testimonies made their way out of China, that stories of the horrors were finally heard.
China’s answer for their abhorrent actions and silence was said to “protect the people” and “bring about social harmony.”
Chinese Pastor, Zhang Rongliang, remembers in his book I STAND WITH CHRIST those grim days of silence that “protected the people” and “brought social harmony.” He remembers the heavy price that his grandfather had to pay for believing in his Bible.
Not long after giving me his Bible, Grandfather Sun was publicly humiliated and tortured, receiving a martyr’s crown. He was brought out by local officials and forced to walk down our hometown street with a board hanging around his neck on which was written in huge letters, “Follower of Jesus.”
As a young man, I watched this happen; how painful it was for me to see him marched through the streets while being taunted and abused by vicious townspeople. Grandfather Sun was forced to wear a tall hat, made out of news- paper, that resembled a Western dunce cap. He looked like a helpless lamb among wolves, but unlike the sheep that I cared for, he couldn’t look to me for protection. My helplessness in the situation brought me great sorrow.
Before he died, Grandfather Sun looked at me and said, “Continue to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ, whether the time is right or not.”
Pastor Zhang Rongliang’s grandfather’s Bible transformed his life and it is transforming lives today, yet a similar silence is taking place today to rid China of the Bible. In a likewise manner, this silence is to “protect the people” and “bring social harmony.”
Persecution of the church in China is louder than ever, but few outside of China can hear it. Outside of China is silence, which presents a unique phenomenon. How is it humanly possible for a country as big as China, with as many cell phone users as China, to keep news from getting out? The very idea seems preposterously miraculous, but here we are.
China has accomplished the miraculous feat of silencing the screams of children as churches are raided. Almost supernaturally, China digitally assassinates and erases the public pleas of pastors as they are arrested for their faith. A dark vacuum, stronger than every secret cell phone recording or social media video, hovers over China.
The average Chinese Christian today is well armed to share their trials with the entire world, but the million-man army of China is better equipped to shut them down. That million-man army of China is the world’s largest online government sponsored military, A.K.A China’s ’50 Cent Army’. China’s Christians are not the only ones they attack. Whenever you have opened up your social media, listened to the news, or clicked on an article about China, you have likely been exposed to an opinion that has been shaped by China’s ’50 Cent Army’.
China has grown to be very sophisticated with their online propaganda against Christians. The government has actively used her cyber warriors to attack believers and keep the Bible out of the country. “During Covid-19 the government used digital tracking to block access to Christian teachings,” Martin (not his real name) reported when talking about Bible distribution in China in Turkey, during a BTJ board meeting, 3 months ago. “It has been hard for us to get pictures, write reports, or share results of a Bible distribution with BTJ during this time because the government is really watching what we do.”
Martin has been working with BTJ for almost 30 years. He has seen underground Christian meetings in homes, fields, caves, offices, cubicles, and factories, but now with the Covid-19 lockdowns and draconian controls implemented by the Chinese government, the church has had to come up with more creative ways. Martin has also been our most senior and trusted Bible distributor in China.
“Christians are being tracked on their phones,” Ling Ling said during the meeting (not her real name). “If we meet together in our homes, the government can see all the phone numbers that are congregated together in one place and easily send the police to raid the meeting. Christians can’t leave their phones in another location in order to not be tracked because everyone needs a personal digital ‘TRAVEL CODE’ that allows them to leave their home and that code is only available for mobile phones that are linked to an ID.”
However, in the midst of the struggle is extreme progress. The amazing thing that has been happening during the pandemic is how the church continues to grow and Bibles continue to be distributed. We have seen an increase in the number of workers that are needed for ministry in western China.
“Our work has not stopped,” said one pastor during our time together last year. “but has increased. We are seeing so many people come to Christ. I have been calling the church leaders and begging them for more workers. Many evangelists are being sent with no support, so we are making everything stretch in order to cover the needs as much as possible.”
Right now, as this post is being written, $100,000 USD has gone into China for Bible printing! We have found a way to get as much as one million USD into China through our back door channels to print Bibles and fund the workers that distribute them THIS YEAR. In today’s hostile banking environment, this is not a small victory.
The good news for the Good News is that we have NOT stopped printing Bibles in China. The volume has been lower than usual, the routes are more difficult, the funding is challenging, and the distribution is extremely dangerous, but it is still happening. This is nothing short of a miracle.
Because of donors that give to BTJ, we are able to continue to send funding in for Bibles, as has been requested. The funding is going through our traditional underground channels to the underground church.
To learn more about how to give to this effort, click the link below