Friday, March 1, 2013

Voice of the Martyrs, country to pray for this week: China

China is firmly committed to economic reform and openness, but economic gains haven’t been matched by political reform or increased religious freedom. The Chinese Communist Party, the world’s biggest political party, maintains strict control over Chinese citizens. Any sign of opposition is swiftly crushed.

Category: Restricted Nation
Religion: Non-Religious 44.4%, Christian 8%
Ideology: Communism
Head of State: President Hu Jintao

While the Chinese constitution guarantees freedom of religion, it protects only what are considered “normal” religious activities. Religious groups and individuals thought to pose a threat to national security or social harmony face severe restrictions, harassment, detention, imprisonment and other abuses. Even churches of the state-supported Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) are sometimes shut down. The government also detained more than 700 Protestants from unregistered churches in 2012 and increased efforts to close “illegal” meeting points and public worship activities. The state-sanctioned Amity Printing Company prints millions of Bibles each year, which are distributed mainly through TSPM churches. All house church meetings are illegal, but some officials overlook the offense in the interest of social harmony. Unregistered Bible schools are also illegal, and many have been closed over the past six months. The only available religious training is through government-sanctioned programs. In the last year, the head of China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) called on government officials to renew efforts to “guide” unregistered Protestants and Catholics into state-sanctioned churches. He also encouraged the break-up of large Protestant house churches into small groups. VOM provides Sunday school materials, supports Bible and Christian literature printing and helps families of prisoners in China.

Daily Prayer Request:
March 1:  Pray for Brother Yang and other Christians blessed through Voice of the Martyrs "Bibles Unbound" program.
March 2:  Pray that house church leaders will resist the pressure to join the state-run church.
March 3:  House churches account for about 90% of China's Christians.  Pray for trained pastors.
March 4:  Pray for Alimujiang Yimiti, imprisoned since 2008 for preaching to ethnic  Uyghurs.
March 5:  Pray for the families of Christian prisoners arrested for their faith.
March 6:  More Christians are imprisoned for their faith in China that any other country.
March 7:  The unregistered Linfen Fushan Church was raided in 2009.  Pray for church leaders who remain in prison.
March 8:  Pray for Christian lawyers who work for justice.
March 9:  Pray for Christian outreaches to the Chinese military.
March 10:  Pray for President Hu Jintao.

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