I have a friend who visited China and went to a church where the Christians had Bibles and were free to worship. Can you explain this?
Question from a reader:
In your book, Safely Home, you talk about the persecution of Christians in China. I have a friend who visited China and went to a church where the Christians had Bibles and were free to worship. Can you explain this?
Answer from Randy Alcorn:
House churches in China vary widely in a number of respects: in some every family may have a Bible, in others there may be just one Bible for the whole church. In some areas there is great persecution of house church believers, in other areas the authorities ignore them, and sometimes certain authorities may even attend. Freedoms vary greatly.
One of the house church leaders I met with while visiting China told me, “Somewhere in China the sun is always shining and the snow is always falling.” A huge mistake visiting American Christians often make is to fail to realize that they see only one very small slice of life in China. They may go to a registered church where Bibles, printed by the government’s Amity Press, are freely purchased. They then conclude “Chinese Christians are free to worship and have Bibles.” This is like visiting Phoenix and concluding “America is hot and dry” or visiting Duluth and concluding “America is cold and wet.” Five miles away there may be dozens of house church Christians in prison, but no one takes visiting American Christians to the prisons to meet them.
On the other hand, those who meet house church Christians in their visits (not nearly as many as attend registered churches) may come back to the U.S. and say “All Chinese Christians are persecuted,” which is also not true. Some are, some aren’t. Some registered church Christians and pastors are faithful to Christ, some aren’t. Some house church Christians are biblically grounded, some are way off base doctrinally. Some of them are persecuted, some aren’t.
For more information about this subject, see Randy Alcorn’s book, Safely Home.