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China's House Churches Begin to Roar
by Rachel Sparkman : May 10, 2011 : China Aid

In an historic move, Chinese house church leaders petition legislature to guarantee freedom of religion.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For dozens of years the world has witnessed the miraculous growth of the underground and house church movement throughout China in the face of grave persecution. Now house church leaders have gained an even stronger boldness as they petition their communist government. For Christians; these are our brothers and sisters-in-the-Lord, let's remember to be supporting them in prayer. Just maybe we'll see Chinese governmental leaders' hearts be softened, not by might, nor by power, but by God's Spirit. –Aimee Herd, BCN.

(Beijing, China)—In a historic move, clergy from dozens of mainland Chinese house churches are petitioning China's legislature to guarantee freedom of religion and to peacefully resolve the recent church-state conflict involving one of the largest house churches in the capital, ChinaAid learned on Sunday.

Chinese BelieversThis is the first such move in 60 years of Communist rule of China and represents a further emboldening of the house church movement, which for decades was active only in the countryside, meeting in small groups in private homes and careful to maintain a low profile to avoid attracting government attention to the illegal gatherings.

House churches in China are illegal because all Christian religious activity is supposed to happen only within the government-controlled churches run by the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, for Protestants, and the Catholic Patriotic Association, for Catholics.

The current conflict between Shouwang Church in Beijing and the authorities has now brought to a head an issue that has been simmering in recent years of how to respond to the phenomenal growth in China's urban centers of these technically illegal house churches that have grown into congregations of hundreds and even, as in the case of Shouwang, a thousand members.

The petition itself was not yet ready for release on Sunday, but it was one of the items for prayer in the Sunday May 8 newsletter of one of the signatory churches, Autumn Rain in Chengdu, Sichuan province:

The church newsletter said:

"In response to the Beijing Shouwang Church incident that has continued for four consecutive Sundays and with the approval of the board of elders, Elder Wang Yi, in his capacity as minister of Autumn Rain Church, will join with the pastors and preachers of dozens house churches in signing a citizens' petition to the National People's Congress seeking a resolution of the church-state conflict and a guarantee of religious freedom. The dozens of preachers, in their roles as pastors of local churches, will also call on Christian citizens to sign the petition. Starting May 9, the church will pray and fast for three days for this first peaceful petition by Chinese house churches in 60 years (including the church's regular day of prayer and fasting on May 12, it will be a total of four days). The board of elders calls on brothers and sisters to participate in the prayer and fasting in whole or in part, according to his or her own spiritual maturity and prompting (of the Holy Spirit). We ask the Lord to strengthen the church's resolve, and protect and use this citizens' petition to make an open and public defense of our faith."

Read more at the link provided.