China has spent years trying to find a way to install cameras in every active church and to monitor the weekly activity. It seems that the coronavirus has presented an excellent opportunity for this monitoring, as Christians provided free camera access for the authorities – through their phones.
Every phone has a mobile camera, microphone, and data activity that can be accessed by the
Chinese authorities. One of our friends told a story that highlights how serious the situation is for those who decided to meet online instead of secretly in person.
“There were about 50 people that were a part of a WeChat [online] Bible study group. They joined this WeChat group because their church had shut down due to covid. After three weeks of meeting during the lockdown, the police came looking for the pastor who was leading the WeChat group.”
The police knew exactly where to go, who to look for, and what to charge them with because they had been monitoring the Bible study group.
Another well-attended church experienced the powerful monitoring system of the Chinese Communist Party when they shut down and moved all of their meetings online to protect the health of their members. Little did they realize that the police “followed” them during their online meetings. It was a perfect scenario for the police, as the lockdown forced people to use their communication devices, which allowed them to be easily tracked and found.
This particular church eventually decided to find small, remote places for each group to meet where phones were not allowed, and they were far from the spying eyes of the government. Many other churches have followed suit in order to avoid tracking and keep their members safe.