Christians in China are FAcing increasing restrictions and surveillance as the authorities clamp down on threats to their power. One lady who has experienced this first-hand is Xiao Ai*. But rather than be knocked back by the persecution, she instead saw the opportunities it gave her…
“Who is the person in charge of this gathering?” a man in uniform demanded.
This is the first question Xiao Ai remembers, asked by one of the local officials who stormed her house in China more than a year ago. She and 20 other church members were praying and worshiping the Lord.
“Me,” said Xiao Ai, hoping to protect the others. “I am the owner of this house. My mother is sick; I invited my friends over to pray for her.”
Her words didn’t stop the authorities searching the house, seizing Bibles and other Christian materials, and writing down the names and details of everyone who was gathered there.
Another official pointed at Xiao Ai and four of the others, who had been identified as church leaders. “You – come with us to the police station.”
Xiao Ai and the four other church members were taken to the detention centre, where they were put in separate cells. In Xiao Ai’s cell were two members of a cult, who’d also been brought in for contravening China’s religious laws. Showing what a bold woman of Christ she is, Xiao Ai saw this detention as an opportunity to share the gospel.
“I think our Father wanted me to come to this place for good things,” she says. “My cellmates were all brainwashed from their cultic belief. I need to help them know the truth and tell them about the good news of Jesus.” The two other women didn’t choose to follow Jesus, but were keen to see Xiao Ai again in the future.
“Also, I had been so busy with my ministry and had little time to rest and really build an intimate relationship with the Lord,” adds Xiao Ai. “This was my chance to have solitude with God — me and Him alone. This was my chance to build my relationship with Him even more!”
“As the Bible says, the Holy Spirit will teach us how to answer when we are confronted by the authorities.” XIAO AI
A few days into her detention, authorities called her and the others in for interrogation. She noticed that the authorities mistook her as a cult member.
“I was so afraid at the beginning, but I knew the Lord was with me. Because He allowed this to happen, I put my trust in Him. I don’t need to be afraid.”
After almost two weeks of being detained, Xiao Ai was finally released and reunited with her family and friends. Her husband – who is not a Christian – was angry with her. But every time Xiao Ai feels discouraged, she reminds herself of God’s faithfulness to her – and the loving kindness of her church family, who sent fruit, blankets and other necessities, as well as caring for Xiao Ai’s mother, who has a chronic illness.
“I experienced overflowing love from my church family. The love they showered me with was never before seen. One official witnessed all these, and he was also amazed by the love that knitted us together, he said, ‘You guys are even closer than those who are blood related.’
“During those times, I could testify that our church became more united. To a certain extent, persecution points us to Christ and His love.”
The Lord also used Open Doors’ partners in China to provide Xiao Ai and her church with emotional, spiritual, and practical support which was a great encouragement to them. Frederick, an Open Doors partner, says: “We visit Xiao Ai on a regular basis to pray and study the Bible together. We also equip her and her team via persecution survival training. We want her to know that she is never alone in this. That we do lives together!”
Open Doors local partners continue to equip the Chinese church as persecution worsens and surveillance increases. As well as persecution survival training, these partners distribute electronic Bibles and Christian literature, disciple believers who’ve converted from other faiths and train youth leaders to help grow the next generation of the church.
Xiang, a Chinese Christian shares a powerful story of persecution and hope.
This story from China shows only too well the pressure faced by church leaders in China. Xiang En was a member of a large house church in China that was raided and shut down by the government. But the persecution the church experienced served to fuel the faith of its members.
For faithfulness and strength for all who face persecution for their faith, especially in prison
For the gospel to spread in China, and particularly that young people would hear the good news of Jesus and accept Him as their Saviour.
That the Lord will touch the hearts of the authorities and bring religious freedom to China
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