The communist rule of China, which began in 1949 with Mao Zedong, set the stage for what is known to be one of the world's worst countries for persecution in the past century. Christians, among other religious groups, have faced house arrest, imprisonment, torture, and even death, for their refusal to subject themselves to government control. Even churches that do agree to be state-monitored and registered are not exempt due to the severe restrictions imposed upon them.
The situation for Christians across China, the fourth largest country in the world, varies depending on location. In the most population-dense and frequently visited cities, it appears that Christians have a functioning relationship with the government, and thereby are permitted freedom -- including those affiliated with churches registered under the government-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM). However, in the more isolated regions of the country, where traditional tribalism is prevalent, all forms of evangelism are potentially dangerous activities.
While China's own Amity Press is the largest Bible producer in the world, the Bibles printed within the country often never make it into the hands of the tens of thousands of Chinese citizens in places like northern Heilongjiang, Xinjiang and Qinghai Lake. There are reports of Christian leaders from these areas requesting as many as 50,000 Bibles, yet they are only receiving a trickle of 50 to 100 at a time.1
Based on statistical trends of growth, the church in China could potentially have the largest Christian population in the world by the year 2030.2 However, considering the pressure being imposed on the unregistered house churches, and the extremely limited supply of discipleship materials, China is at risk of having a widespread form of Christianity that seriously lacks depth. In light of this concern, and the country's present overwhelming spiritual needs, please pray for VOM Canada's Bible distribution and discipleship training projects in China.