Faithwire, by Will Maule: With the Chinese forced to devote huge resources to containing the spread of COVID-19; you would think that the communist government might temporarily lay off persecuting the nation’s hard-pressed Christian community.
Instead, the shuttering of churches to stem coronavirus infections has presented the state with a key opportunity to ransack sanctuaries and strip worship centers of their Christian symbolism.
The evidence is shocking. On March 13, and with residents in self-isolation, a church in Guoyang County, Anhui Province, had its cross removed in broad daylight. A video of the incident showed a crane winching a large red cross out of the church premises.
Though the church usually has around 40 people attending Sunday service, authorities reportedly exploited the nationwide shutdown by heading into the church and removing the cross while it was empty.
The state-mandated persecution hasn’t stopped there. Earlier this week, China Aid’s Bob Fu shared shocking footage of a church in Yixing city, Jiangsu, being razed to the ground. “Religious persecution continues even in the midst of #WuhanVirus,” he wrote.
According to International Christian Concern, most of the country’s churches—underground or state-approved—have been meeting online since the shutdown began. There is a worry, however, that the government will roll out a brutal crackdown on these virtual gatherings as soon as the virus response begins to settle down.
To date, China has recorded almost 81,000 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease, with 3,200 deaths. The illness, which found its origins in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, has resulted in almost 10,000 fatalities worldwide.
It may not be long before persecution against God’s people in the United States and other western countries will begin again. Meanwhile, we must examine our hearts and ask ourselves if we are truly following Christ as we should be.
“The apostle Paul declares that ‘all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.’ Why is it, then, that persecution seems in a great degree to slumber? The only reason is, that the church has conformed to the world’s standard, and therefore awakens no opposition. The religion which is current in our day is not of the pure and holy character that marked the Christian faith in the days of Christ and His apostles. It is only because of the spirit of compromise with sin, because the great truths of the Word of God are so indifferently regarded, because there is so little vital godliness in the church, that Christianity is apparently so popular with the world. Let there be a revival of faith and power of the early church, and the spirit of persecution will be revived, and the fires of persecution will be rekindled.” The Great Controversy, page 48.