Canadian Christians should be louder in protest that tensions between China and Canada are about values we will not sell out for trade.
Our discontent is a protest against Chinese government, Thought Control that brutalizes religious freedom.
For 13 years, an imam from Burlington, Ontario, Huseyin Celil, has languished in Chinese detention – his crime appears to be that he is deeply spiritual. Human rights abuses against Mr. Celil are also experienced by up to 1 million Muslim inmates held in internment factory camps widely documented in the Xinjiang region.
The Washington Post explored business now taking advantage of this forced labor and warned in a December 2018 article that North Americans may be wearing T-shirts made by these prisoners.
“It’s shocking” said former imprisoned Chinese house church leader, Bob Fu when asked why trade concerns take the headlines on China relations, “prison conditions right now in China have people eating rotten food, with worms in it, twice a day. Christians are literally starving in jail.”
Mr. Fu, now President of the human rights advocacy group China Aid, spoke those words to me this week on the steps of the U.S. Congress as part of a lobbying force to push for stronger lawmaking against China.
Canadian politicians are next on the list to be approached by China Aid, said Bob Fu, “suffering, and persecution of Christians has increased 36-fold since 2017, over 50,000 Chinese Christians were tortured physically and mentally in the past year.”
Open Doors World Watch advocacy reports, “ The persecution of Christians in China is the worst it has been for more than a decade, with at least 50 million people expected to experience some form of repression this year as the government tightens its controls over religious worship, according to a global monitoring body.”
Open Doors also reported in its 2019 World Watch List, which ranks 50 countries – “that one in three Christians face high levels of persecution in Asia.”
Andrew Croft of Open Doors summarized persecution as, “the squeeze” on church life, a deepening chill on freedoms, which includes posting signs – no one under 18 can attend.
Rev Brian Stiller, a Canadian leader who preached in Zion Church in Beijing before it was forced to closed in China, cautions that China is a complex mix of religious realities that don’t easily lead to generalizations, pastors in China he says, are adept at changing to keep the Gospel essentials growing in their nation.
A tragic handful of high-profile abductions and imprisonments of Canadians in China have eclipsed the story of millions of human rights abuses underway among people in China.
Our diplomatic dilemma is an ideal time for Christians in Canada to request our own government shine strong for human rights in all its negotiations with China.
An international call to prayer last summer by China Aid’s Bob Fu has resulted in a great wave of concern, and movement of the Holy Spirit for our brothers and sisters in Christ. More than 10,000 kms away; despite the persecution of Christians there – the church is still growing.
And with this growing church, we need to continue praying for our brothers and sisters in China.
Click here for Context’s full episode taking a closer look inside China.