An annual list released this week by Voice of the Martyrs Korea and its ministry partner China Aid indicates that government persecution of Christians in China increased in size, severity, and spread in 2018, with further increases forecast for 2019.
According to Voice of the Martyrs Korea representative Hyun Sook Foley, 2018 shows a change in the pattern of persecution, not only the degree.
“In previous years, persecution in China was highly regionalized. It targeted unregistered or so-called ‘underground’ churches. It rose and fell,” Foley explains. “In 2018,” Foley says, “we see a full-scale offensive based on the implementation of the February 2018 state directives against religion. The Chinese government is now making war against the church.”
Foley explains that persecution in 2018 happened all across China, across all sects and denominations, encompassing registered and unregistered churches. She says that the first three months of 2019 shows no sign of slowing.
“From the east to the west, from the Three-self church to the house church, from the ethnic majority to the ethnic minority, people are being persecuted for their faith in Christ,” says Foley.
Foley notes that on September 1, 2018, Chinese pastors from of all denominations from both registered and unregistered churches published “A Joint Statement by Pastors: A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith.” The document urged Chinese authorities to stop persecuting the church. According to Foley, within only 20 days, more than 345 pastors signed the declaration.
“All of these pastors were from different denominations, regions, ethnicities, and political backgrounds,” Foley explains.
“but through this declaration, they were able to cry out in one voice. That should be the response of the Korean church to this Top Ten Chinese Christian persecution list: We must join our signatures to those of our sister churches in China, witnessing to the basic Christian creed which they pledged to uphold in the statement.”
Voice of the Martyrs Korea and China Aid have created a Korean/English website, www.chinadeclaration.com, where Christians from around the world can sign the declaration of the Chinese pastors. So far more than 2,000 signatures have been collected. The full Top Ten persecution cases video may be viewed on Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/c/voiceofthemartyrskorea .