Thursday, August 7, 2008

What the Olympics Have Overshadowed: Prayer and Praise for China's Christians

Young and old around the world have gained lifelong memories from these Olympics as the events in Beijing draw to a close. China put on the most extravagant show in Olympic history at the opening ceremonies in the midst of an Olympic complex that is architecturally one of a kind. History has been made in Michael Phelps feat of eight gold medals, beating Mark Spitz's record. The Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt has also captured the world's attention with his current three golds and three world records.

However, all of the Olympic flair has overshadowed the more sinister events that have been going on behind the scenes. Little is said now of the thousands who were forced from their homes to make way for Olympic complex. Other incidences that point to the same old communist China have also come to light even as the
Olympics have begun. the faked fireworks and lip-syncing in the opening ceremonies and the alleged underage gold medal gymnastics team are just a couple of the examples.

China had to make several promises in order to gain the right to host the Olympics -- most if not all of which have not been kept. Thick smog still floats over the city, restrictions are in place on the press, and, more importantly, the human rights situation has not improved. [1]

Previously on the blog I posted my term paper on the persecution of Christians in China. This is a follow-up post detailing many of the problems that have been overlooked because of the Olympics. I would have posted before the Olympics, but I got lazy.

On August 6th, two days before the Olympics, President Bush addressed China from Thailand, condemning their human rights record and urging them to allow freedom in its country. [2] China, however, did not take kindly to his blunt remarks, diplomatically telling him to shut up and stating that "Chinese citizens have freedom of religion. These are indisputable facts." [3]

Many of China's Christians and various other groups in China would dispute this fact, and rightfully so. Bob Fu, a former prisoner for having church services at his house and now founder of the China Aid Association,
testified of this on the national radio talk show with "Mancow" Muller. Every indication, he said, points to the fact that China is using the Olympics as a political show with Mr. Muller later pointing to the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. Over two million people still live in the labor camps, Fu says. [4]

Despite attempted Chinese cover ups, the evidence does point to the fact that the situation has in fact worsened instead of improved. Bridget Johnson, journalistic blogger for, noted that the IOC gave the Chinese a job, to organize "a secure Olympics." The way the Communist government defines and does things, they did exactly what they were told to do. Over the months leading up to these Olympics, we find numerous examples of this. [5]
  • According to Voice of the Martyrs, on July 2nd in Beijing, house church leader Hua Huiqi and his family were evicted from their apartment. The police broke down the door with a 10 pound hammer, beat Hua's brother who was there, and left the family, including Hua's 90-year-old father, on the street with their furniture. Although another Christian family took them in, VOTM reported that the authorities had considered detaining him until the end of September to keep him and other "troublemakers" (i.e., religious "activists") off the streets during the games. [6]
  • On July 4th, a pastor in the Shangdong province was sentenced to two years of Re-education Through Labor (the labor camps) for his extensive and God honoring ministry in a "cult." [6]
  • On August 6th, the day of President Bush's afore mentioned speech and a week after President Bush himself met with Bob Fu of the China Aid Association on the Tuesday prior and accepted one of the Voice of the Martyrs "Pray for China" prayer bands from him, the inspiration for those prayer bands was arrested in China. Pastor Zhang “Bike” Mingxuan was arrested while trying to deliver medicine to his ailing wife. His wife and another pastor were also arrested. Pastor "Bike" has driven over 10,000 miles on his bike preaching the gospel in 24 different provinces. China is opening an investigation on the prayer bands that were distributed in house churches in China. [6]
Underneath the extravaganza of the events and architectural wonders of the Olympics in Beijing, there lies dark truths. However, amid the hidden atrocities in Beijing (which includes several that haven't been mentioned here such as restrictions on Bible usage for Christian athletes), God has been at work. Read on to rejoice in a true miracle of God's grace and goodness.

In the first week of June, Operation Mobilization China, received an unexpected letter. The earthquake relief
team that was started by a small group of believers a month earlier with the help the international Christian organization Operation Mobilization, received an official letter stamped by the Chinese government requesting them to build a temporary school in Meishan city for 420 middle school students. Praise God! [7]

They were excited, but they didn't know what to do. There was somewhat of a catch, you see. They had less than 30 days to raise an estimated $73,500, gather the materials, and complete the building. They decided to take the matter to the Lord. God confirmed to them that they were to trust him. As Lawrence Tong, one of the members of Operation Mobilization with the relief group there in China, said, "Unless the LORD intervenes, we are bound to fail." [7] They trusted the Lord, however, and what happened next could only be described as a miracle.

Mr. Tong wrote this in a July 3rd update of the relief work:

Praise God. Within a short two weeks 83% of the total building project fund was received from friends in the US, Singapore and a third came from the brothers and sisters in China. A contract was signed with the building materials supplier who gave us a 20%-discount despite rising prices (due to high demand and teir receiving many huge government contracts). Next, the LORD led us to a professional construction who volunteered to manage the entire project for us from beginning to end - FREE of charge! [7]

They started with nothing. No know-how in construction, no money--nothing but a simple permit from the government. "With God all things are possible." —Matthe
w 19:26 Construction began on July 1st -- one week before their deadline -- and everyone worked very hard. By the end of the first day, one of the classroom buildings was completed.

The rest of needed money came in because the Lord is good and the city officials took note of their work. Mr. Tong wrote, "As one official publicly acknowledged the 'good work from the Christians', he also mentioned that the Christians have come to defend the needy . . . in their distress. Little did he realize that he was quoting Scripture." [7]

What a miracle! Focusing on the Chinese government and how they do business, how they deceive the world, and how they persecute our brothers and sisters in Christ, can really get one down. I know it did me. However, just writing this article and reviewing this awesome story just shared, I am reminded to look at the world through God's eyes. God is in complete control! He cares about China and He is at work there in mighty ways! What a blessing to know that He has a plan. "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" ~Mark 9:24

Pray for those who are being persecuted and pray for those who actually made it to Beijing and passed out literature. Pray also for those who read the literature.

[6] Various Voice of the Martyrs e-mail updates since the beginning of July.
[7] The mentioned earthquake relief update from Lawrence Tong.