A survey of seven house church leaders in China has revealed little anxiety about the impact of new rules issued by authorities in early October that govern the religious activities of foreigners.
The rules, which forbid all foreigners living in or visiting China from "expounding the Scriptures" at unofficial house churches, are in fact "nothing new," according to the house church leaders.
"The foreign Christians that assist us in our Bible training seminars know the risks and so do we," one Guangzhou-based Christian said. "It is our hope that a wider public realizes through these regulations how restricted we are."
House church movements frequently use foreign Bible teachers, usually Chinese speakers from Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, although sometimes teachers from the United State are used.
On August 23, three American Bible teachers from a Vineyard church in California were arrested in Fangcheng city, southern Henan province. They were deported within 48 hours, but over 100 members attending the seminars were also arrested. Some have since been released but not all.
According to a house church leader from Fangcheng city, "Our movement grows by 20 percent each year, but out of 1,200 leaders, barely 50 have been Christians for more than four years, and of those 50, only 20 have received extensive Bible training. That's why we must have foreign teachers to come and help us ground ourselves in the Scriptures, otherwise we may become unorthodox, or a cult."
He added, "Ironically, the government is always telling us we must not become cults. But their policy makes that more likely, because it prevents us from teaching new converts the truth of the Christian faith."
The new code for foreigners' religious activities was technically ...1
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