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Copyright: Copyright 2017, Christianity Today

China Tells Christians to Replace Images of Jesus with Communist President
Propaganda effort in poor province latest sign of Xi Jinping consolidating control. Thousands of Christian villagers in China have been told to take down displays of Jesus, crosses, and gospel passages from their homes as part of a government propaganda effort to “transform believers in religion into believers in the party.” The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that Communist Party of China (CPC) officials visited believers’ homes in Yugan county of Jiangxi province—where about 10 percent of the population is Christian. They urged residents to replace personal religious displays with posters of President Xi Jinping; more than 600 removed Christian symbols from their living rooms, and 453 hung portraits of the Communist leader, according to SCMP. The efforts were part of a government campaign to alleviate poverty in the region, since some CPC members believe families’ faith is to blame for their financial woes, according to SCMP. The poster swaps in villagers’ homes represent the party’s desire to have residents look to their leaders, rather than their Savior, for assistance. “Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses,” the head of the government campaign told SCMP. “But we tried to tell them that getting ill is a physical thing, and that the people who can really help them are the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi.” Though the party denies the claim, some Christians in Yugan county say they were told they would not be eligible for government assistance unless their posters were removed. The news comes weeks after the CPC held its national congress, where Xi continued to consolidate party power and passed a historic measure to write ...Continue reading... [...]

Women in China’s House Church Movement Face a Hidden Challenge
Chinese pastors’ wives struggle with something more personal than political oppression. Late this last summer in one of China’s major cities, a small group of Chinese pastors’ wives gathered together from the unregistered church (or “house church”) for a time of training and support. Most of the women didn’t know each other, nonetheless, they shared their common burdens with one another: “We get little to no rest; even if we do slow down on a rare occasion, we feel guilty.” “Our to-do list is endless. And if we don’t do it all and do it well, we create new problems for ourselves.” “Our congregation has unrealistic expectations of our family. Sometimes I have my own unrealistic expectations of myself, my children, and my husband.” As the communications director for China Partnership, I hear daily about efforts to train and equip the mostly male pastorate of a rising church movement called Grace to City, which focuses on gospel renewal among China’s unregistered churches. The needs of the Chinese pastorate are myriad, and they include one often overlooked but very important group of people: pastors’ wives like these. Although China has a government-sanctioned church called the Three Self Church, the vast majority of Chinese Christians belong to unregistered church communities that often meet in rented apartments, storefronts, or hotel conference rooms. When Westerners think of these “house churches,” they often assume the biggest challenge is the political environment. While the legal issues surrounding the unregistered church are often tense and at times overwhelming, the ministry struggles are much more mundane and common. Like small church pastors in the States, Chinese pastors and their families experience significant ...Continue reading... [...]