Voice of the Martyrs Korea has begun a campaign to open 5,000 Sunday Schools in China in the next twelve months, in partnership with its sister NGO China Aid.
The campaign, called “Sunday School in a Box”, assembles the leading legal children’s Bible in China, a compact video player, and a comprehensive curriculum of digital resources for parents and children. Each “Sunday School in a box” is designed to reach an average of seven children and will be distributed through the ministries’ joint underground house church network. The materials are specially designed to allow parents of all educational levels to teach the full scope of the Christian faith to their own children and relatives.
“The number one challenge facing the church in China is not cross demolition or church raids,” said Voice of the Martyrs Korea representative Hyun Sook Foley.
“It is the full-scale effort on the part of the Chinese Communist Party to prevent the children of Christians from becoming believers themselves.”
[Photo credit: CNS photo] Churches that permit children in worship are facing fines and criminal charges across China.
Representative Foley notes that Voice of the Martyrs Korea and China Aid have now compiled credible reports from every province in China of churches facing harsh penalties if they permit children to attend. But Representative Foley says the problem is actually twofold.
“The children of Chinese Christians are not only being shut out of churches,” she says.
“They are also being taught a comprehensive curriculum in schools that defines Christianity as an evil religion. They are warned to be suspicious of their Christian parents and encouraged them to report any relatives who are practicing Christians. For the first time in Chinese history, we have reached a point where it is nearly a criminal offense for Christian parents to raise their children as Christians.”
[Photo credit: Reuters] Xi Jinping is replacing Jesus in the lives of Chinese children as they are locked out of churches and locked into anti-religious education in Chinese schools
Representative Foley references the story of a kindergarten-age child and his Christian mother from a July 17 report by the Chinese persecution watchdog website Bitter Winter.
“At school the child learned that belief in God is abnormal. When he came home, he said to his mother, ‘If you believe in Christianity, you will leave home and not take care of me. You might set yourself on fire, too.’”
[Photo credit: Associated Press] Children are not allowed to visit churches anymore under new religion rules enacted in January 2018.
[Photo credit: UCA News] Nanjing summer camp for Catholic children in 2016. Such camps are increasingly rare as China replaces children’s participation in church activities with compulsory children’s education on the evils of religion.
Representative Foley says that this is one of the reasons why the “Sunday School in a box” is primarily designed to be used by parents rather than professional Christian educators.
“First of all, there are not many professional Christian educators in the countryside, and even in the cities Sunday school teachers are watched by the government with particular suspicion,” says Representative Foley.
“But second of all, the home is the place where the battle for the Christian faith is won or lost in every country in every generation. If Chinese Christian parents are not given comprehensive, useful tools to raise their children in the faith, those children will become the first line of persecution against the church in the next few years.”
Representative Foley says that the cost for one Sunday School in a Box is 75,000 KRW. Voice of the Martyrs Korea is challenging Korean churches and Christians to sponsor one or more boxes.
“One of the reasons for the cost of each box is that we are using only materials that are legally available to the Chinese general public through Chinese retail stores. There is no underground printing operation involved. Though it make the cost a little higher this way, it also makes the Sunday School in a Box more difficult for Chinese authorities to oppose on legal grounds,” representative Foley explains.
Representative Foley says that since each Sunday School in a Box will reach an average of seven children, even a gift of 10,000 KRW toward the campaign can reach one child.