Despite 60 years of persecution, there are an estimated 100 million Christians in China today. During the Cultural Revolution all Christian religious activities were banned, so groups met secretly for prayer, Bible study, and worship. As a result the house church movement was born. Overall persecution has decreased, at least on the surface. The Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) agency seeks to maintain oversight of religious groups by offering registered churches that teach a variant of traditional Christianity. Intimidation, threats, and monitoring of communication are subtle ploys used today to exercise control over Christian activities. It is illegal to organize any church services outside of those registered by the government.

Christian Aid Mission has supported the work of indigenous Chinese ministries since 1990 and has seen a great spiritual harvest, particularly in the startup of more than 150 Bible schools. Persecution remains a problem, however, as evidenced in January when one of the Bible school graduates was expelled by authorities from Tibet for “spreading Christianity” to college students. In August a key Chinese ministry worker was interrogated by police on suspicions he was “an American spy” and was “in contact with American missionaries.” In another case a pastor and six elders were placed under house arrest for leading an underground church that planned to rent a larger facility due to its growing congregation. Government officials threatened the owner of the building, saying they would seize his business if he gave church members access to the property. With no place to gather, the large congregation has divided into dozens of small groups that meet in individual homes for Bible study and fellowship.

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