Southwest Radio Church Ministries
Members of Congress and the citizens of the United States in general were terribly offended and even angry when one of our intelligence gathering aircraft was forced down in China and the crew held for almost two weeks. The plane was evidently and legally according to international law, outside of Chinese borders, and the collision with the Chinese military aircraft was probably the fighter pilot's fault. Therefore, why would the Chinese government dare to challenge the military and economic power of the United States?
We expect Spaniards to act like Spaniards; Italians to act like Italians; Arabians to act like Arabians, but we were surprised when the Chinese acted like Chinese. China and Egypt had advanced civilizations and cultures dating back 4,500 years over 4,200 years before the United States became a nation. The Chinese have never been aggressive conquerors of other nations or people; but they have a history of being extremely aggressive in defense of their country and the imperial control of Chinese territory and peoples. The annexing of Tibet, the military campaigns against India in the 1970s, and intervention in the Korean war in the 1950s, were further manifestations of the Great Wall syndrome dating to 200 B.C. I remarked during my first visit to China that if you stuck a 2 x 4 in the ground, the next morning there would be a wall around it.
China has a population of 1.3 billion. The United States has a population of 281 million. China could field an army larger than the U.S. population. When I went to China in 1980 the country was a dismal, foreboding disaster: very few new buildings most were of last century vintage. The air was thick with coal smoke; streets were crowded with bicycles, everyone wore blue or green Mao clothing because it was against the law to wear colors; dilapidated hotel accommodations; and the food was inedible. But as I attended one of the first services after the Cultural Revolution in the Mo'en Peoples Church of Shanghai, I hoped that this signaled a new day of freedom in China.
The status of the church and/or Christian missions in China is directly related to the political and economic past.
While Restrain Christianity did make a presence in Ian, and possibly other areas of southwest China in the eighth century, Christianity was considered a foreign religion, suffered persecution, and vanished.
Going back into history four thousand years, we find that China was ruled by emperors in succeeding dynasties. To name just a few of these dynasties: Song, Tang, Qing, Ming, Zhou, etc. Emperors ruled by provincial, city, or war lord alliances.
In the nineteenth century the Roman Colonial powers of Europe, plus the United States, discovered China to be a land of golden commercial opportunity. Commercial land holdings and enclaves were established on the mainland. China neither needed nor wanted little that was manufactured or grown by Europe or the United States. In order to prevent a huge balance of trade deficit, Spain began to sell opium to the Chinese. England followed in the opium trade market and soon Chinese men became drug addicts in increasing numbers. In 1839 Lin Zexu pleaded with Queen Victoria to stop the opium traffic to China, and warned: "Your Majesty has not before been thus officially notified, and you may plead ignorance of the severity of our laws. But I now give my assurance that we mean to cut this harmful drug forever" Europe demanded more and more tea, silk, and spices, but the only thing England had to trade that the Chinese wanted was opium. A series of opium wars ensued in which kegs of opium were thrown into the sea from British ships. This eventually led to the Boxer Rebellion in which Christians and business representatives were killed or held prisoner. England, France, and the United States sent armies to the rescue, captured Beijing, and burned much of the Summer Palace.
Out of the confrontations between China and the West, which the West always won, the French, British, and the United States received land and trade concessions in Shanghai and at other ports. The British also received a 100 year lease on Hong Kong (1897-1997).
In the wake of the Occidental commercial expansion also came Christian missionaries. The main religions of China had been Buddhism and Dacism. In spite of commercial and aggressive associations, Christianity became widely accepted and churches were founded. However, some prominent Chinese, possibly influenced by, cultic doctrines, seized upon the new converts to promote their own political programs. Hong Xiuchuran, who declared himself to be the brother of Jesus, started the Taiping Rebellion which raged between 1850 and 1864. The goal of the revolution was to free women and promote the kingdom of heaven on earth. Approximately 20 million were killed in this rebellion. To put the casualties of this civil war into perspective, this would be more than twenty times that of the number of Americans who were killed in all of the following wars: Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War. Therefore, it is understandable why even today some oriental governments are reticent to welcome Christian missions or church growth.
If the nineteenth century was traumatic and turbulent to China, the twentieth century was even worse. Greed, corruption, and foreign vested interests so weakened the rule of the Quing (Ching) Dynasty that it was unable to govern. Sun Yatsen, in the revolution of 1911-1912, overthrew the last emperor. The new George Washington of China desired to establish some form of a republican political entity. He was a professed Christian, yet he was practically deserted by the church and the governments of Europe and the United States, who waited to see if China really wanted a democratic form of government. Sun Yatsen could not wait, so he turned to Russia and the new communist regime of Lenin. In Sun's army there were two young rising stars, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tsetung. Chiang was sent to Moscow to be schooled as to how communism could be brought to China. However, Chiang had a Christian wife, and he himself professed to be a Christian. There was nothing in communism to Chiang but chaos and evil. Mao, possibly to please Sun, espoused communism, and China was again embroiled in a long civil war.
It appeared that the nationalist forces under Chiang Kai-shek had won, so Mao and his beaten army fled to the west. After the long march, only a few thousand survived. In 1937 the Japanese invaded China and quickly occupied Beijing and then Shanghai. At nearby Nanjing, Japanese soldiers who killed more than one hundred defenseless citizens were given prizes. When I was in Nanjing in June 1996, 1 was told the army actually killed more than 300,000 defenseless men, women, and children. While an accusing finger is pointed at the United States for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where an estimated 200,000 were killed (doubtless saving millions of lives by shortening the war), no one today outside of China remembers the terrible crime of the rape of Nanjing.
Chiang Kai-shek was criticized for trying to fight on two fronts. He was under pressure to join forces with the communists and fight a united war against Japan. Chiang's philosophy was: "The Japanese are a disease of the skin; communism is a disease of the heart." Mao profited from Chiang's refusal to join forces with him, or form a coalition government at the insistence of the U.S. State Department. After the Japanese surrender and the end of World War 11, the U.S. State Department was riddled with communist sympathizers and promoters like Harry Dexter White. Some of the military (like General Joe Stilwell and General George Marshall) held ill will for Chiang, so the balance of power was thrown to Mao, and the nationalist forces had to flee to Formosa (now Taiwan).
In 1950 the churches of China were confronted with a government like that of Russia hostile to all religions, and especially Christianity. In order to survive as a collective entity, many churches throughout the nation formed what is known as the "Three Self Church Alliance." The meaning of the name of the new association tried to convey that the churches in the alliance were self governing, self supporting, and self motivated. All foreign identifications or ties with Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics, etc., were immediately severed. Even today, the only foreign association tolerated is with the World Council of Churches which has a history of social gospel theology, as well as being infiltrated with communists or their sympathizers.
No system of political communism has survived for more than seventy years without imploding from within. In 1965 Mao found his economic policies failing, his critics increasing, and his policies of encouraging women to bear more children producing him with an additional 300 million young mouths to feed, house, and educate. He offered to resign but with Mao gone the entire government would fall. So Mao was convinced that it was a remnant of the capitalists, religionists, and counterrevolutionaries in China that were causing his problems. For the next ten years the rivers of China ran red with the blood of millions as the so-called Red Guard pillaged, murdered, raped, and burned. Even the Three Self churches were closed. Pastors and church workers were killed, sent to prison, or sent to labor camps. In talking with people throughout China, I have yet to find anyone who did not have a mother, father, brother, sister, or friend who died in the Cultural Revolution. It is probably conservative to say that at least 50 million died in this unspeakable period of hell on earth.
The Tianeman Square protests of 1989 resulted in the killing of approximately three thousand students. However, this student revolution was not just in Beijing; it was throughout most of China. It was a nationwide effort to get the government to allow graduates to open job opportunities with competitive salary offers between employee and employers. This would have been an important step toward an open market economy and the leaders vowed that what happened in Russia would not happen in China. In 1991 when I returned to China, there was a feeling among students, teachers, and Christians that the United States had failed to back them with even moral and political support. The United States had lost face.
In 1987 our national tour guide, and secretary of the China Tourist Agency, a lovely girl named Chiang, accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior after reading a presentation of the gospel from my pamphlet, "Happiness." I communicated with Chiang until Tianeman Square, but never heard from her afterward.
In 1985 1 was arrested in Guilin and our Bibles and Christian literature confiscated. I had to sign a confession that I had committed a crime before me and my tour group would be released. Those who break the law or disgrace the Communist party may be executed and their body parts sold on the international market. Communist party members and bureaucrats must save face by getting confessions. I had no conscience problem about signing the confession, because I had confessed only to distributing Christian Bibles and literature, which is against the law in China. In 1996 1 was arrested again in Forbidden City, which is just off Tianeman Square in Beijing. Again I was interrogated, my passport taken, and my hotel. room searched; but released after again signing a confession. I was not surprised that the Chinese bureaucracy demanded a written confession of wrong doings from the U.S. government in the recent incident on Hainan.
On January 14, 1996, the communist Central Committee criminalized all Christian activity outside the Three Self Church. I could not place a direct call to a church or visit a church without a government permit. The rules governing even the state controlled church in China are as follows:
1. Christian believers must fervently love the People's Republic of China, support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the Peoples Government, uphold the unification of the motherland and the harmony among ethnic groups, and work steadfastly on the road of socialism.
2. Christian believers must strictly abide by all the laws, regulations, and policies of the Communist Party and the State, and strive to be patriotic and law abiding citizens.
3. Christian believers must actively work to increase the material wealth and cultivate the spiritual morals of the socialist civilization. They must comply with the government's labor codes and strive to contribute to the development of the "Four Modernizations." When scheduled religious activities are in conflict with production and work schedules, the economic activities must take priority.
4. A permit must be obtained from the county Religious Affairs Bureau in order to establish religious meeting points. No unauthorized meeting points are allowed.
5. Christian believers must actively cooperate with the government to carry out thoroughly the Party's religious policies to the letter. They shall not persuade and force others to believe in Christianity. They shall not brainwash teenagers under 18 with religious beliefs. They shall not bring children to religious activities.
6. One should see a doctor for medication when sick. Christian believers must not resort to prayer alone for healing so as not to endanger people's health and lives.
7. Christian believers shall not preach their religion outside the church buildings and specific places which have been designated for religious activities. They shall not preach itinerantly. They shall not receive self proclaimed evangelists into their homes, churches, or meeting points.
If the reader would like to meet some real first century Christians who are willing to die rather than deny Jesus Christ, attend an underground church meeting in China.
I did not return to China between 1991 and 1996 because our missionary efforts were directed to getting Bibles into Russia after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. But upon returning in 1996, the tightening of the Communist hierarchy was evident everywhere. Nevertheless, we did continue to help in the underground distribution of Bibles and other helps to the house churches and underground churches. After our July 2000 visit to China, hundreds and perhaps thousands of house churches and underground churches were raided and closed by the government. This was even reported in the secular news media.
The China of 2000 was not the China of 1980. In just 20 years cities have been rebuilt and modernized; elevated highways roar into major cities. Shanghai is building 3,000 new skyscrapers, thousands of new high rise apartments, 50 to 90 story hotels, new and modern airports, new jumbo jets, etc. Yet, communism with a capitalistic face has not brought freedom or human rights to China. In fact, the reverse is true in most cases.
Perhaps the most amazing feature of the new China is the major highway that runs from Upper Mongolia through Beijing, south to Shanghai, westward along the Yangtze through mountains, through Chungking and Tibet, skirting northern India and Afghanistan. This is one of the most modern divided highways in the world. Strangely the highway signs are both in Chinese and English. The world's largest dam, over the Yangtze at Sandouping, was about 50 percent completed when we visited the site this past year.
China is filling the world with consumer goods. The major portion of consumer goods and clothing in the United States is now made in China via American supervision with American money. It is more profitable to produce goods with 200 an hour labor than with $20 an hour labor. But what if the Chinese nationalize all industry and banking? A stock market crash that would resonate 'round the world would be heard.
The factor that motivated the opium wars with China was a balance of trade problem. China has not changed. China does not want our produce or our products. Our yearly balance trade deficit with China is now $84 billion a year. Europe, Canada, Israel, and dozens of other world nations also have a Chinese trade deficit. A large percentage of the wealth of the world is being directed into China. Most of this wealth so far is being used to move China into the 21st century as an economic power. Now, much of this wealth can be directed into the military. Hong Kong and Macaw have been returned to China; now China wants the return of Taiwan. Even newspapers in China now predict a war with the United States. China cannot match (yet) the U.S. in modern weapons and technology. For example, the U.S. has 18 times as many nuclear missiles. What China has many more times of is men. According to Revelation 9:14-16, an army of 200 million soldiers will cross the Euphrates from the East to fight at the battle of Armageddon.
According to Revelation 16:12, this gigantic army will belong to the "kings of the east" and advance over a prepared way. The way has been prepared. On April 20,2001, on a CNBC news program, Thomas Friedman, the New York Times international news analyst, stated that the real danger with which the United States will have to contend with in the future is China making an alliance with the nations of the East, which was now in progress.
According to an Associated Press news release dated April 24, 2001, China has already signed a trade alliance treaty; the Bangkok Agreement, with India, South Korea, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Pakistan, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Nepal have indicated they will also sign this treaty and become part of the alliance, which would encompass over half the earth's population.
We already have the Arab alliance of nations; the revived Roman Empire of Europe; the Russian bear is growling again; and now the Kings of the East.
©2001, Southwest Radio Church Ministries
May 2001 Prophetic Observer, Vol. 8, No. 5
Southwest Radio Church Ministries (http://www.swrc.com)
Reprinted by permission