A new crackdown on Christianity in China has placed many congregations in constant fear.
According to the Christian human rights organization International Christian Concern, an "anti-cult" campaign was launched by Beijing in June 2014, in an effort to root out supposed "evil cult" groups which the Communist Party believes to be in opposition to the state.
ICC's Nate Lance tells OneNewsNow authorities have begun to use the campaign to limit the expansion of Christianity, which is the fastest growing religion in China. He shares what recently happened.
"There was a house church of good size – about 700 people – in the Guizhou province, and local authorities went to that church and, citing the zoning laws, pressed charges against the pastor there and ordered all activities to cease in that church,” he says. “So unfortunately, the 700 parishioners have nowhere to worship."
Persecution has ramped up in recent years, particularly since the election of China’s current president.
"For quite a few years now the Chinese government has tolerated a lot of house churches throughout China,” he says. “However, we've seen a real uptick in persecution against Christian churches since President Xi Jinping was elected in March 2013."
In Zhejiang province, Christians have witnessed the destruction of more than 1,500 crosses and nearly 400 churches since 2013. During the last week alone, two churches - including the church in Guizhou province - have been shut down while at least six pastors have been arrested and detained.