Calvin Goes to China? A Look at How New Calvinism Is Spreading in China

Time magazine provoked evangelical paroxysms back in 2009 when the publication unveiled its list of “10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now.” According to Time, New Calvinism was the number three idea at work reshaping America. (Don’t know what New Calvinism is? See here) Calvinism China New Calvinism

Five years on, New Calvinism is still going strong, so strong, in fact, that the New York Times has now taken notice of its growth. This New York Times article points to the rise of New Calvinism at evangelical conferences and in several denominations across the U.S., including Presbyterians and Baptists. The article points out that nearly one-third of Southern Baptist churches self-identify as “Calvinistic.”

The article points out also that the New Calvinist movement has more than a few detractors. Rather than engaging that debate, I have a different question to ponder. Is New Calvinism spreading beyond America and Europe? Specifically, are there Calvinists in the eastern world? Have Communists in China discovered predestination? Is Calvinism now spreading through the world’s most populated nation?

A review of recent literature demands an affirmative response: “Yes, there are Calvinists in China, and they seem to be spreading.”  Fredrick Fallman of Stockholm University has done a good bit of research on this question. He has a chapter titled “Calvin, Culture, and Christ,” in the book, Christianity in Contemporary China: Socio-cultural Perspectives. In his chapter on Calvinism, Fallman makes a strong case for the New Calvinism in China to be the product of universities and networks of highly educated elites. Here is how Fallman says it:

There is a tendency among some of the urban, unregistered churches to adhere to reformed theology, inspired by what in North America is sometimes known as “New Calvinism.” The focus is more on Puritan teachings than on John Calvin himself. Such communities draw much interest from young urbanites, and they seem to attract these young people because of their solid stance on moral issues and their non-relative beliefs, contrasting with society at large. Reformed Christianity may also appeal to the subconscious Confucian thought patterns and beliefs that linger among Chinese elite intellectuals in general. As both Christian elders and public intellectuals, the young urban church leaders also assume the traditional role of the intellectual, feeling his responsibility to act and assist when the nation is in danger, this time from moral decline.

No doubt, many in the cities and in the university are well-educated and, most likely, exposed to Calvinism through books and conversations in academic settings.  Likewise, I have no doubt that the certitude provided by reformed theology offers much-needed antidotes to the less desirable aspects of the brand of Communism which has run its course through China in the last 5-plus decades. Nevertheless, from mere instincts and from personal experience, I have the feeling that something more is happening.

I, for one, will not be at all surprised to discover a much broader base of support for New Calvinism in China. While Calvinism is gaining traction among the educated and the elite, it may be appealing to more than the upper crust of Chinese citizens. My guess is that there are plenty of “Calvinists” in the lower classes and in the rural areas of China as well. Here are three reasons I make this assertion.

First, Christianity in China blossomed and bore the majority of its present fruit through intense persecution. Stories of faithful saints like Samuel Lamb, Allen Yuan, and Li Ying reverberate with strong chords of God’s sovereignty. I’m not arguing that those who suffered intense persecution were by definition part of the New Calvinist movement. Instead, I am simply saying (in accord with the book of Revelation, for instance) that intense persecution demands a sovereign Christ. Thus, when the biblical and doctrinal support for such high thoughts of Christ arrives in Calvinistic form, it resonates with many grassroots-level saints.

The Sovereign Lord of Revelation has eyes of flaming fire and will return mounted for war to bring justice to His suffering saints.  Chinese Christians have suffered long bouts of persecution. They are not interested in anemic, pseudo-Freudian portraits of Jesus. The “New Calvinists” offer a Jesus of worthwhile authority making claims of eternal dominion.

Second, the New Calvinism movement in America has had a strong missionary impulse from the beginning. Many would consider John Piper one of PiperMissions New Calvinism Chinathe “fathers” of the movement. His missionary zeal is legendary. His website mentions about 4 dozen languages around the world where his books have been translated. In addition, conferences and conventions within the movement have included pastors, laymen, missionaries, and teachers from around the world. Congregations in remote parts of Africa were livestreaming the recent Together for the Gospel (T4G) event in Louisville, KY. I know also that people living in the remote northwest portion of China were in attendance at the first T4G event eight years ago.

The endurance of Christianity is at least partially the result of those receiving truth sharing it unsparingly. Obviously, none of this proves anything. It is, to be sure, anecdotal. One could easily assert that those who attend such events or read such books would also be from the affluent, educated classes of China’s citizens. I’m simply guessing that some of them are not.

And even if those who have attended the conferences and have read the New Calvinism literature have all been from the affluent, elite strata of China society, they have undoubtedly not been silent. They have been leveraging their influence for the sake of good theology. Thus, I’m guessing their teaching is spreading.

Finally, Piper is not the only one publishing “New Calvinist” literature in China. Other publishers are legally publishing reformed literature in China. Again, this literature may first go to the educated in easy-to-reach urban centers. But it will not end there. Perhaps it already has spread beyond the urban areas and further into the heart of China. It may well be the case—as with Calvinism in America; and as with the house church movement in China—that the strong roots of fervent Christianity are already quite strong in Communist China. The New York Times caught up with New Calvinism 5 years behind Time. So, what  do you think will be the report on Calvinism coming out of China in 2019?  What do you hope is the report?

Jesus Christ’s Invincible Church Growth Strategy

Books abound on church growth strategy. There are books to grow your church from the inside out. Other books teach church growth from the outside in. One book wants you to grow your church by learning from unchurched Americans. Another book says Christians just need to become contagious (in a good way, of course).

Christ church prevail persecutionEach of these books has the right heartbeat: Christian churches ought to grow and bear good fruit. Jesus Himself said,

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples, John 15:8.

That churches ought to grow is not as difficult a question to answer as is the question, how are churches to grow.  That question begets much opinion with copious emotion.  The vast array of such opinions and emotions has generated wave after wave of church growth movements. Pastors and laypeople alike may, at times, feel swept away by the waves of change mandated in the latest church growth stratagem. How can we grow the church?

In response, I offer this reminder of a simple, helpful, strong, and encouraging message embedded in the Scriptures, one which is also being demonstrated in real-time through the persecuted church.  The lesson?  Jesus Christ will build His church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against her.  Consider the scenario unfolded in Acts 8.

A very bad thing happened in Acts 8. A great persecution struck the church. Christians had to flee Jerusalem (in the same way they are having to flee the Middle East today).  The ones who thought they might stay and maintain some form of normalcy in Jerusalem were dragged off to prison (Acts 8:3). It was all bad. All their dreams of family comfort were shattered as a crystal glass shatters on a granite counter—instantly broken into scattered pieces.

And what of the decimation to the Jerusalem church? After whom would the persecutors go? Persecutors typically attack the leaders first. So, the great persecution unleashed in Jerusalem decimated the church, chasing even some of her leaders far away and out of reach. And yet, the bad news had a divinely-empowered good result. As Acts 8:4 reports, “those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”  And the people in the places they went to ended up rejoicing. The bad the persecutors were producing ended with the good news of the gospel spreading.

In a similar way, a very bad thing happened in China in 1949.  Communism took over in China, and, among other changes, the Christian Church China PersecutionCommunist government expelled all missionaries from the land. And that wasn’t all:  The Communist government immediately began putting in prison Christians who could not swear first allegiance to the Communist party.  The blood-bath was immense through the 1960’s, as government officials announced “the death of God.” The situation was very bad indeed.  But God was not dead. He was as alive as His Word.

Without foreign missionary aid, without government help or support, without any serious infra-structure or property or resources in the country, the Christians of China did not die. The church grew.

When Communism took over, there were 870,000 Christians in China. Today, after a 60 year assault on the Christian church, there are an estimated 90 million Christians in China. There may in fact be more Christians than there are Communist party members! That growth happened—as it happened in Acts 8—through the promise from Christ that He would build His church–that His word would continue to increase and go forth empowered by the Spirit to the ends of the earth.

The point for us to remember is simply that Jesus is the one building his church, and the work cannot fail. Indeed, Paul tells us that the work we do in the name of the Lord will never be done in vain (1 Cor 15).  So, by faith, preach the Word. Strategize. Seek to fulfill the Great Commission mandate, but, even when persecution and unexpected setbacks come, take courage:  Jesus Christ has not lost control of heaven or earth, and He will build His church.  That’s a strategy with a 100% durable success.

What Is Prison Theology?

Recently, I watched an interview Marvin Olasky conducted with Bob Fu, the founder of China Aid. There were many good points to take away from the interview. The most immediate impact for me, however, was Fu’s use of the term Prison Theology.

Prison Christian Persecution China Have you heard of that?  I first heard about prison theology when I read Back to Jerusalem, a book detailing the house church missionary movement spreading from China to the Middle East. I now assign that book for my students in Pastoral Ministry to read, partly because of its mention of prison theology.  Prison Theology developed out of the persecution of Christian leaders in China, but I suspect something like it has been around since at least the time Paul and Silas prayed at sang in the jail at Philippi. Christians have befriended many jail cells over the centuries.

From the time of Communism’s takeover in China to the present, Christians there have learned increasingly to take their faith and practice underground. The Communist government was (and still is) hostile to Christ. Christians have been routinely targeted for arrest.  In the interview with Fu, he notes that even now the majority of house church pastors in China have served time in prison as a result of their faith in Christ. China, in fact, has more pastors in prison than any country in the world.

As a result of this systemic persecution of Christians by the Communist government, Christian leaders realized that pastors, Persecution Prison Theology Chinaevangelists, and missionaries would likely end up arrested and put behind bars. Therefore, in thinking through what students needed to learn in seminary to prepare for ministry, Chinese Christian leaders determined that “prison theology” was of utmost importance. What topics are discussed in “Prison Theology”? How to get out of handcuffs; how to jump from a second floor window to escape capture; how to bless those who persecute you; and how to suffer without retaliation—to name just a few.  More important than even these practical lessons, however, is the need to learn to rest in the presence of Christ.

Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of Voice of the Martyrs ministry, tells of his own prison theology. When he was in solitary confinement, he forgot all his Bible verses. He forgot even the alphabet: he could not remember how to write the letter “d” when he was released. Nevertheless, Christ remained present with Him and was Wurmbrand’s source of comfort, strength, and rest. The best prison theology, it turns out, is the one which ends with resting in a sovereign Christ.

While Christians must never diminish the ultimacy of Scripture, doctrine, and preaching, we must also bear in mind that the darkness hates the light. The more we seek to bring the light to bear in a dark and fallen world, the more we might think about developing our own prison theology.

A Lamb and His Shepherd

A great man of God and a real hero for Christians in China, Pastor Samuel Lamb has departed this earth life to be with the Good Shepherd Himself. Pastor Lamb is now absent in the body, but present with the Lord. His life is an example to Christians of how to remain steadfast and faithful through intense persecution.

Samuel LambPastor Lamb shepherded a church which grew to more than 4,000. However, his congregation began as a small group of believers huddled around a recently-released convict. Pastor Lamb spent more than 20 years in Chinese prison camps. In fact, he was in prison when his wife died. He was not allowed to attend her funeral.

Though he suffered, he was never defeated. His “holy principle” for Chinese Christians was, “More persecution, more growth.” He did not fear suffering. From the beginning of his ministry, he maintained the practice of keeping a bag packed and ready to go so that any time the government arrested him, he could simply grab his bag and head back to prison.

What a great witness was Pastor Lamb for his flock. Along with Pastor Allen Yuan, Pastor Lamb was a pivotal figure in the Chinese church. His joy was contagious. We join with our brothers and sisters in Guanzhou (gwan*joe), China, to mourn the loss of this dear brother and celebrate the victory of our lord Jesus Christ.

Bob Fu, China Aid, and Our Faithful God

National emblem of the People's Republic of China Christian persecution

Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, and He will exalt you at the proper time—so says the Apostle Peter (1 Peter 5:6). 

And time has proved the Scriptures true over and over again. One of the most recent cases is that of Bob Fu, founder of China Aid.  The scope of China Aid more than tripled last year (2012), yet Bob Fu has been advocating on behalf of the persecuted in China for more than a decade. Day in and day out, Fu and his ministry team have been working non-stop to bring relief to those suffering in Fu’s native land of China. Fu and his wife escaped from China (and persecution) back in the 1990’s. Shortly after arriving in America (and beginning to study theology), Fu began working to serve other Christians, starting with a campaign to save 5 pastors from an unjust execution.

From his garage office, Fu began advocating on behalf of Christians in Communist China. Then, he moved his ministry to Midland, TX. He has quietly, but steadily built a solid reputation as an advocate for China’s persecuted. His ministry was exalted to center stage this past year when he helped orchestrate the escape of the blind lawyer Chen Guangchen. Negotiations were coordinated through Fu’s ministry, thus bringing Fu much recognition for his efforts. Several newspapers have recognized him this year as their person of the year.

Fu’s faith has proved true, and God is now exalting his ministry to the persecuted church. Fu has also been speaking against China’s forced abortion policy, helping women save their babies. His story is empowering for all those fighting the good fight day after day in seemingly forgotten fashion.  Bob Fu provides a clear example of God’s faithful presence with His people. Christ told the church that He would be present with her always, even to the end of the age.  Fu’s case encourages our faith as Christ continues to prove true to His word.

Thank you, Bob Fu—not just for advocating for persecuted Christians in 2012—for remembering the persecuted church day by day, year after year.

How the Blessing of Persecution Works

Danger? Suffering? Isn’t that what Jesus said would follow those who follow Him?

In the fall of 1895, Alphonso Argento made his way from his native Sicily to London, where he was scheduled China Christians persecutedto undergo extensive training for China Inland Mission. Argento had been burdened for China four years earlier, when he committed his life to being a missionary there.

In his initial interview with China Inland Mission, Argento was warned about the dangers of preaching the gospel in China. His reply,

“I am not afraid even to die for Christ and the gospel. I was led to take this step after having known Christ’s promise, ‘Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’”[1]

Jesus promised persecution to His people. Argento expected it from the beginning.

China was growing more and more unstable, as many nationalists were growing violently intolerant of Christian missionaries. In July of 1900, the Boxer Rebellion was underway, and the mission station in Henan Province—where Argento was serving—was attacked. Argento was beaten, thrown on a pile of wood, and burned. But he did not die. With the help of others, he escaped momentarily. Then, Argento was stopped and beaten again.

This final beating rendered him unconscious. In fact, the injuries Argento sustained on this night would plague him for the next 17 years, until, eventually, they would cost him his life.  Argento survived the attack, but had to suffer further taunting and ridicule from the locals, who told him, “Your God cannot save you. Jesus is dead; he is not in this world. He cannot give you real help. Our god of war is much stronger; he protects us, and he has sent the Boxers to pull down your house and kill you.”

Argento succumbed to his injuries 17 years later, but he never really died (see John 11:26).  Today in the Guangshan area where Argento served, God has raised an army of believers which numbers more than 120,000. Argento, an Italian grain of wheat, did suffer and die in China, but, dying, this grain of wheat brought forth much fruit. Everything has turned out just as Jesus promised.

[1] Hattaway, Paul. China’s Christian Martyrs (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2007) 326. This story is adapted from Hattaway’s book, which can be found here.

Aren’t You Ashamed? A Quick Thought on Saving Face

There were many instances from my days of growing up under the moss-laced cypress trees of southern Louisiana that I would be asked by my father or my mother, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” Most of the time, I was not. I was only “ashamed” of getting caught.  Shame is not an emotion we naturally embrace.

I was reminded of our natural desire to avoid shame when I visited China this past summer. It is well documented by missiologists that the oriental cultures in general and Chinese people in particular value “saving face.”  They do not wish to be ashamed. Thus, missionaries learn to tweak their gospel language and tailor their ministry work to avoid shaming the very people they hope to serve.

My reminder came as we tried to order our lunch. We had scoured the streets of Guilin, looking for the best local Shame in Chinese culture saving facerestaurant to explore authentic Chinese cuisine.  When we saw little swimming pools filled with living squid, eel, snakes, turtles, crawfish, and spoon-billed catfish, we knew this was the restaurant for us. If nothing else, the food would certainly be fresh.

Once seated, we began perusing the menu for our palate-pleasing entrees. Delighted, we pointed to the giant bowl of fried rice.  After all, there is a limit to how many noodles a human can eat, and we had eclipsed that limit. Unfortunately, after a flurry of language negotiations with our waiter, we were informed that the restaurant did not have rice–only noodles. Why then was there a picture of a very large, very inviting bowl of fried rice on the menu?

Our waiter was in crisis at the question. He could either be embarrassed and admit the false advertising, or he could attempt a perverted defense of the picture in order to save face.  Choosing the latter course, he replied to our inquisition that the picture of rice is used to show that the restaurant serves noodles.  As contorted and inexplicable as this explanation was, it was his explanatory attempt to save face.

Missiologists in China are pleased to report on the saving face impetus in oriental culture. But, really, Chinese people avoiding shame are no different from American people avoiding shame. When we say, “It’s not my fault”; or “I didn’t mean to”; or “What’s the big deal”; or when we say, “I’m sorry if anyone were offended…”; Are we not doing the same thing as the Chinese waiter? Are we not simply seeking to save face and avoid shame? All these statements are simply different berries from the same diseased plant called “avoiding shame.”

In fact, this natural tendency to save face by avoiding shame goes back to Adam’s finger in the Garden of Eden. When God called Adam to account for sin, Adam responded with “that woman that you gave me, she…” (Genesis 3).  Rather than humbling himself before the Holy One, Adam pointed the finger directly at Eve and (indirectly) back at God.  It’s easier to blame someone else than it is to be ashamed of ourselves, isn’t it?

How have you seen this saving face tendency in yourself and others? What are some other examples I’ve missed? I hope we all will be humbled and accept our part of the blame and, even more, Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.

Chen Ups and Downs


Poor Chen Guangchen. His case is reportedly moving along, but the answers are not coming to some serious questions about Chen’s future. Will there be retribution for those who helped Chen escape? Will he actually be permitted to leave the country? How is his health? Apparently, the U.S. Embassy has abandoned Chen. It is difficult to get information, and many folks, apparently, have lost interest in Chen’s case. Thankfully, Jennifer Rubin is still on the case and files this report for the Washington Post.  There is one bit of ominous news in her story–a journalist trying to cover the story has been expelled from China.

There are more ups and downs to Chen Guangchen’s life right now than you’d find on a Coney Island roller coaster.  It seems that Chen’s fate is all or nothing now. Supposedly, he is going to be allowed to leave China. The latest report says that Chen may be allowed to leave with his family and attend New York University as a fellow.  That would definitely be the up-side to this dilemma.

Realistically, though, Chen may never leave China. His closest friends and counselors admit that Chen is afraid, even while more popular news accounts see light dawning which points toward his freedom from China.  Honestly, there are three aspects of this case which cause me to fear a down-side to Chen’s future.

First, the U.S. and human rights groups on the side of Chen’s release have given away much of their original bargaining power.  As this New York Times article points out, the Obama administration made some mistakes early in the process out of the hope of a quick resolution.  The initial mistake was allowing Chen to be taken to the hospital (out of the embassy control) without ensuring that U.S. officials would be given access to him.  Since Chen has been in the hospital, U.S. officials have been denied access.  A second mistake was made when the Obama administration turned Chen over to Chinese authorities without securing guarantees of safety for him, his family, and his close friends who aided in his escape.

As a result of a weakened position, the U.S. cannot realistically demand freedom for Chen’s colleagues. So, the second aspect of this case which I believe does not bode well for Chen is the fact that his extended family, friends, and colleagues are now in serious danger.  Even as it was reported that Chen originally agreed to leave the embassy because his wife was being threatened, so, now, Chen may again succumb to threats against those whom he cares for and loves. They remain in serious danger (as this article details).  There are reports that officials from Shandong province are in Beijing, following Chen’s family and waiting to take them back into custody as well. Consider this short paragraph from China Aid:

Chen’s frail mother remains detained, his brother Chen Guangfu and nephew Chen Kegui will be sentenced, and the netizens who helped Chen escape, like He “Pearl” Pierong, still face charges.  Also, famed human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong was beaten on Friday morning for trying to visit Chen.  He reportedly has lost hearing after the beating.”

Third, thus far, the so-called agreement involves Chen being allowed to submit an application for study abroad.  Submitting an application for study abroad is a FAR cry from actually studying abroad. If this is all the promise that Chen is given by the Communist leaders in China, then Chen is not guaranteed anything.  Indeed, how awkward it would be for Chen to appeal to the very same authorities who have allegedly tortured and beaten him for the past two years in order to gain his release! Hopefully, the incident has been so public and so damaging to the Chinese government that they will decide their best option is to let Chen and his family leave China. (Side note here: For the last two years Chen has been unable to be with his son. His reunion with his son came only after he was taken to the hospital upon leaving the U.S. Embassy.

A hearing was held in the U.S. Congress today. C-SPAN has the video if you would like to watch.  Chen actually is telephoned during the hearing and speaks to the congressional committee about his case.

C-SPAN Chen Guangchen

Blind Unbelief: China and Chen Guangcheng

“Blind unbelief is sure to err…” so penned William Cowper in his final and perhaps most poignant hymn, composed in 1774.  Of course, Cowper wrote from a Christian perspective and, though he suffered terribly from depression, he understood that God’s ordering of and teleological purposes for creation would always prove wise and good in the end.  A nation whose laws adhere to these same basic truths is able to govern itself according to the wise and good end that God has built into creation.  That nation will prosper as it conforms to the actual reality of God’s creation. A nation which forsakes God’s ordering and insists on its own is—in Cowper’s words—sure to err.

Such is the situation presently in China.  As this Guardian story reports, China is presently reeling from its own, self-imposed moral crises. Having rejected God and God’s ordering of reality, the Communist government in China has been forced to implement its own.  As every Communist government eventually learns, enforcing your own reality is a monumentally cumbersome affair.  Have you ever tried to fly a kite when there is no wind? Communism requires intense effort and strict enforcement for its policies to fly through even a short space of human history. Most often, just as with the kite, Communism has face-planted into the ground. China is still struggling to fly without reality’s wind.

Blind unbelief refuses to acknowledge the eternal realities which happen to be imprinted indelibly in the human psyche (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Inevitably, then, Communism clashes not just with its own people, but with reality itself.  Such is the case in China today.  The blind unbelief of the Communist vanguard was usurped by the courage of a self-taught, barefooted, and blind lawyer named Chen Guangchen.

According to Chen’s friend (and Chinese human rights advocate) Bob Fu, Chen escaped from house arrest by climbing over a wall behind his house. He has found refuge now in a location described as 100% safe in Beijing. Chen had to navigate blindly both the back wall of his property and a small army of as many as 90 Communist guards, falling more than 200 times in the process,yet persevering to his victorious escape.  In his triumph, Chen has done more than embarrass the Communist government, he has exposed it.

Truth can be called error for only so long, and then it has a way of creeping back in as persistently as water seeps through a roof or light finds a way through the smallest crack in the door.  Truth persists.  If nothing else, the blind lawyer has forced the world to see the undying nature of truth.  The blind lawyer was able to see the reality of Communist impotence.  For Communism (or any totalitarian regime) to work, a certain view of reality must be imposed and enforced.  Dissent cannot be allowed because by its nature it dispels the reality of the darkness. When light enters a room, darkness disappears. Thus, the light of dissent is, as the Germans would say, verboten in Communist countries.

In China, the State expected to be seen as the benevolent supplier of human aid and the aim of all human effort. That dynamic only works insofar as the people succumb to the notion of the State as god. What happens when a blind man starts to see the inhumanity of the State’s actions?  If the State is god, then how can it err?  Chen believes, of course, not only that the State can err, but—more urgently—that the State grossly erred in forcing women to kill their babies for the good of China.

Chen exposed the barbarity of the forceful imposition of the inhumane idea that human beings are a burden on the resources of the benevolent State–and of the further idea that as the supplier of all resources, the State thus has the right to rid itself of such burdens.  Invading the eternal, God-created wall of human dignity, the Communist government breached the most intimate parts of its women and stole from them babies whose composition had been knit mysteriously together in what ought always to remain a protected place—the mother’s womb.

Ignoring the eternal wall which God enshrined, the State ran roughshod over its weakest people. With its legal and authoritative siege-works, the State breached these intimate, feminine walls. Chen could see the barbaric injustice of such an oppressive abuse against women.  So, he spoke. And, ironically, the Communist government thought it could silence eternal truth with its own man-made walls.  As Cowper said, blind unbelief is sure to err.

What the Blind Man Sees

Blind human rights activist Chen has reportedly died from the torture and beatings he has endured at the hands of the Communist Chinese.  However, as this story notes,  no one can be sure of whether Chen is alive or dead, given the fact that the Communist government has sealed off access to Chen and has even shot at those trying to get a closer look at whether he is still alive.

Chen Guangcheng has been very active in the past, calling the world’s attention to the barbaric enforcement of the Chinese one-child policy. Whether he is alive or dead, the truth is certain that this blind man could see so much better than most what the value of human life actually is.  The video below is an excellent (and short) overview of Chen’s life.


China One Child Tragedy

I know the story of Xiao (pronounced “Sha-ow”) is not “news” right now, considering that it happened last fall, but, still, the tragedy of China’s one-child policy is brought out in such starkly human terms that it is hard to ignore. It is a sad story.  Xiao Ai Ying and her husband were expecting their second child.  Eight months pregnant, Xiao was already letting her first child feel the baby move and already talking about what it would be like when the new child arrived in their home.  But the new child never did arrive in their home.

The child became yet another victim of China’s one-child policy.  Police held Xiao in custody, and, after questioning her, they injected her womb with a solution to kill the child.  She was then taken to a hospital in order to deliver the dead child.  Xiao’s baby did die.  And now, in accordance with the “Family Planning” controls of the People’s Republic of China, life is supposed to be better for Xiao and her family.  If you watch the couple speak of the ordeal, you get the clear sense that their lives were not made better by the government’s family planning.

Interestingly, the news media who covered the incident seemed to get diverted by geography.  The story became less about the practice of forced abortions in China and more about the surprise that it happened in a metropolitan area.  The news reporters appear surprised, however, because they expect the Chinese government to uphold the value of life.  Forcing a woman to have an abortion while she is 8 months pregnant seems an awful lot like… well, like killing a baby.  This reality obviously made the NPR news crew a little nervous.  So, following the lead of the Al Jazeera reporter who originated the story, they made the story about how surprising it was that this happened in a metro area instead of in a rural area.

But, really, what difference does it make where this horror unfolded?  The reporter’s narrative is supposed to be that only in the “hick” and “backwoods” areas of China would one find these forced abortions, but that is a silly narrative.  All over China, there is a one-child policy for the sake of family planning.  Chinese officials admit that they vigorously promote family planning to lower the growth of their population.  Even in the supposedly more humane metro areas, women who violate this one-child policy are subject to a fine of up to $40,000 and then a forced sterilization after the birth of the child.  Granted, this is “more humane” than a forced abortion, but it is still inhumane.

This horror in China is a direct outgrowth of the policies of Communist government of China.  There is no inconsistency between the official policy and the practice of forced abortion.  The news reports make it sound as though there is this vast inconsistency between the Communist government and some of its overzealous local leaders who go too far.  In other words, the news reports make it sound as though this forced abortion is merely the result of zealous upstarts wanting to make for themselves a name, and that it isn’t connected to official Chinese policy.

But of course it is connected directly to the official Chinese policy, which is why some responsible lawmakers called on President Hu Jintao during his recent visit to the White House to reverse the forced abortion policy in China.  NPR assumes the news angle for this story is a vindication of Communist leaders.  The news agency goes to some lengths to assert that the central Communist commanders must be unaware of the awful realities of forced abortions.  But the argument doesn’t seem to fit.  The argument agrees that the  local government officials are dependent upon meeting their population target goals in order to advance their careers, but then the argument leaves the problem at the level of these local governments. Local officials supposedly get too excited about meeting their population goals, and so they go too far.  Rather than simply encouraging abortions, they actually cause abortions.

But wouldn’t that argument be something like a parent telling his child that he will get an allowance if he steals $10 per week worth of merchandise from Wal-mart and then, when the racket is made public, turning the child in as a thief?  Who is setting these population target goals? Why are they so important at the local level?  Isn’t it because they are deemed important at the higher levels, you know, at the levels of the people who decide who gets promoted and who does not?  Maybe rather than focusing on the supposedly overzealous local leaders, the news reports need to focus on the Communist leaders who insist upon setting population goals as a means of enforcing the one-child policy.

It is astounding how quickly the ugliness of abortion (I mean “family planning”) is colored over so that attention is diverted away from reality.  This news story about Xiao Ai Ying and the baby who had to die in the name of family planning tells us something about ourselves.  We know the awfulness of abortion.  The writers of the NPR story are uncomfortable with the reality of abortion and the reality of China’s forced abortion policy, but their problem is that they cannot face the reality of their own repulsion.  To do so would acknowledge the need to repent of supporting abortion.  To acknowledge the awfulness of this awful reality would be to surrender the “freedom” of after –the-fact birth control.  Though we know how hideous it is to kill babies in the womb, we still want the freedom to do it to escape the responsibility of parenthood and maintain our right to sexual promiscuity.  That seems to be all the abortion debate is really about–at least in America.  In China, women have more than the right to an abortion.  They have a duty.  The government sometimes enforces this duty.


Christ in China

If you are interested in Christianity in China, then you will want to read this report concerning a survey of Christianity recently completed in China.  I would offer a couple of caveats to this report, however.  They do not make much of the unregistered house churches.  House churches are mentioned at the end of the article, but the survey does not make clear how house churches were counted.  The real fire and real growth in China has come through the house church movement (even though the Three Self churches have grown, too).

Another thing I noticed from this report is that the survey tends to contradict itself.  In one place, there is growth among the young intellectuals, while in another place there seems to be statement that only the poor and ignorant are becoming Christian. (I suspect the former statement is true, while the latter is a Communist talking point, although the poor and ignorant surely have come to Christ, too.  Indeed, from God’s perspective we are all poor and ignorant).

Finally, I notice that Roman Catholics are counted separately, too.  This means that there are a lot of Christians in China.  When the house church, TS church, and Roman Catholic populations are added together, the Christian population in China exceeds the population of those registered in the Communist party.  Thus, the future of China is more Christian than Communist.  We can be thankful for that.

Not Exactly

World Evangelical Leader and House Church Perspectives Diverge on Status of Religious Freedom in China

December 19, 2009
–Just before Thanksgiving, the World Evangelical Alliance issued a report on their visit with Three-self and state church leaders in China, calling the meetings “historic” and casting a positive light on the health of religion in China. After much prayer and consultation with fellow evangelical organizations, ChinaAid felt compelled to share the truth about the complex situation, calling out the WEA for “misleading” the international community, in a CAA statement released on December 18, 2009:

“While we affirm WEA’s sincere intentions to serve the Church in China.. and it is certainly the WEA’s prerogative to only meet with national, state-sanctioned and Three-Self church leaders, their failure to mention the 80 million faithful Christians who.. meet in house churches and rented offices, has compromised the cause of the suffering church in China.

ChinaAid sought not to dismiss believers who attend state churches, but speak up for those who were forgotten: We are simply calling into question the very misleading signal ..sent by what the WEA statement chose not to say in their statement. Believers around the world were misinformed by WEA not mentioning the reality of brutal persecution of house church Christians still pervasive throughout China.

Read the full “Statement in Response to the WEA’s Visit.”

In their own testimony issued on December 12th, the evangelical Chinese House Church Alliance (CHCA), based in Beijing, reviewed persecution cases in the year 2009. CHCA leaders expressed gratitude to God for His faithfulness, and listed the major cases of persecution experienced by members and leaders of the CHCA and their affiliates.

Read the full “Review of Year 2009” by the CHCA.

The Christmas season especially, as a distinctly Christian holiday, is one of the most dangerous times for believers in China, as unsanctioned gatherings can be disrupted with officials detaining and beating participants. During Advent, ChinaAid and CHCA leaders urge the international evangelical community not to forget the millions of independent house church believers who face persecution for their faith, and to continue praying for true religious freedom in China.

See the articles posted by the WEA about their China visit on their website: (English, Chinese).

ChinaAid grants permission to reproduce photos and/or information for non-fundraising purposes, with the provision that is credited. Please contact: for further information.

Devastating China

The following update from China Aid details the sad story of the devastation wrought by China’s forced abortion policy.

“No one supports forced abortion…”

–Reggie LittleJohn, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and ChinaAid

WASHINGTON, D.C.–On Tuesday, November 10, 2009,   Reggie Littlejohn and ChinaAid presented substantial firsthand body of evidence and research illustrating the abuses and devastating effects of China’s One Child Policy to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the Rayburn House Office buidling in Washington, DC. View the original Hearing Announcement.  Reggie presented her testimony of evidence showing how One Child Policy is linked to forced abortion, forced sterilization, gendercide and infanticide. A woman working with ChinaAid testified anonymously before the hearing on her personal experience with forced abortion. Read about Wujian’s firsthand experience and other substantial evidence here

A press conference held before the hearing enabled media to ask questions and meet the speakers. Syndicated writer Kathleen Parker covered the hearing for the Washington Post; Julia Duin for the Washington Times; Dan Robinson for Voice of America; and a staff press writer for

“When Abortion Isn’t a Choice”–Article by syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker on Read the article from November 11, 2009.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist, syndicated to work with over 440 newspapers worldwide. A credible and time-honored voice in the news industry, Ms. Parker’s voice has added volume to the movement against forced abortion, sterilization, and infanticide. 

“DUIN: Obama Silent on One Child Policy”–Article by Julia Duin, Religion editor for the Washington Times. Read the article from November 12, 2009.

Activists Urge President Obama to Question China’s One Child Policy”–Article by Dan Robinson, Capitol Hill Correspondent for Voice of America. Read the article from November 10, 2009.

“Rep. Chris Smith: Obama’s Trip Should Not Only Be About Economics…” article by press writer covers the press release issued by Congressman Chris Smith’s Office on November 10, 2009. Read the article on Read the press release from Congressman Smith’s website from November 10.


ChinaAid grants permission to reproduce photos and/or information for non-fundraising purposes, with the provision that is credited. Please contact: with questions or requests for further information. 

Media Coordinator: Annee Kahler (267) 210-8278 or
Directory of Advocacy (Washington, DC): Jenny McCloy (202) 213-0506 or
Websites: and
Fax: (432) 686-8355

Crushed Legs, Free Spirit

October 5, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC–To celebrate his heroic dedication and perseverance, former Tiananmen Square student leaders will be joining re-enabled Chinese athlete Fang Zheng in a celebration of his receiving new legs, and to witness this human rights hero’s stand for freedom. The event will be held in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Room HVC-215, at 4:00 PM, Wednesday, October 7, and will be attended by US Members of Congress as well as other distinguished guests concerned with human rights and freedom in China.

People - Fang Zheng Ready to RacePeople - Fang Zheng with legs crushed by tank  

A star collegiate sprinter, who qualified to compete in the Olympic Games for China, Fang Zheng’s dreams were cut short, when he pushed a fellow Tiananmen student out of the way of an oncoming tank, only to have his legs crushed beneath its treads on that fateful June 4th day in 1989. Undeterred by the loss of his legs, Fang Zheng refused to stop competing, and the former sprinter shifted his focus to other track events. The Chinese government feared Fang Zheng’s status as a national athletic figure would raise awareness of his injuries at the hand of the People’s Liberation Army. The pressured him to publicly state he had suffered the loss of his legs in an accident; when Fang Zheng refused, they denied him his degree from the Beijing College of Physical Science, and forcefully warned him not to speak with foreign media.

People - Fang Zheng with Discus

In 1992, he medalled in both discus and javelin events, breaking Asian records in the All-China Disabled Athletic Games. When he qualified for the Far East and South Pacific Disabled Games, he was again pressured into silence. Fang Zheng agreed to keep the story of his legs quiet in order to compete, but was still banned from the competition. Barred from all future competitions, Fang Zheng looked for alternative work, even working on the streets in Hainan, as he was repeatedly harassed by the China National Security Bureau. He began telling his story to the media, exposing the truth of Tiananmen and his treatment. Security forces frequently cut his communication and power sources, hoping to deter him from speaking out. He was detained for 10 days at a train station in 1999, while traveling to Beijing to look for work, and was denied job opportunities for his lack of credentials and degree.

Miraculously, in 2008, Fang Zheng was granted a visa to the United States. Upon arriving in early 2009, he met with ChinaAid employees, human rights activists Zhou Fengsuo, Chai Ling, and Michael Horowitz, and US Congressmen Pitts and Wolf, as well as many others who were compelled by his story. The Ossur Corporation offered to donate new legs to him, and in the care of Dr. Terrence Sheehan and other specialists at the Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital in Maryland, the sprinter has once again been able to stand on his own two feet.

Click here to see Radio Free Asia’s coverage of Fang Zheng walking with new legs, 10/2/2009.

Fang Zheng’s powerful story has inspired many in China who have been repressed and denied their fundamental freedoms of speech and belief. He has used his story to expose the truth of human rights adversity in China, and is a living testimony that change can happen. Fang Zheng firmly believes that the time is coming when all in China will experience true freedom.

Join Fang Zheng and his friends and family in celebration, as he stands for freedom, and leads his wife in their first dance.

Click here to view and print out the formal event invitation.

The event is being co-sponsored by the following organizations:
Humanitarian China
Initiatives for China
Jenzabar Foundation
China Rights Network
Chinese Alliance for Democracy
Federation for a Democratic China

Photos have been provided for ChinaAid’s use by members of Fushan Christian Church. ChinaAid grants permission to reproduce photos and/or information for non-fundraising purposes, with the provision that is credited. Please contact: with questions or requests for further information.

Media Coordinator: Annee Kahler (267) 210-8278 or
Directory of Advocacy (Washington, DC): Jenny McCloy (202) 213-0506 or
Websites: and
Fax: (432) 686-8355