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China: No Christmas for Kids

In 2017, officials in the city of Wenzhou in China banned all Christmas activities in schools and kindergartens. A communist group at a Chinese university warned students against being “blindly excited by Western holidays like Christmas.”

Restrictions against Christians are increasing in China. Some adult Christians are concerned that children and youth will not be able to stand firm in their faith in God if the rules against Christianity become even stricter.

Pray for Chinese Christians and their children at Christmastime.

Chinese boy with a Bible


Thankful in Prison

Children in Myanmar

Pastor John Cao did not spend Thanksgiving last year with his wife and two sons in North Carolina. Instead, he spent the holiday in a Chinese prison.

“John committed the crime of doing good,” said a Christian friend of the pastor. Pastor John helped build 16 schools in Myanmar (Burma). The schools provide an education for 2,000 children in poverty. The students study the Bible in their classes, and many have come to Christ.

Pastor John’s wife and sons are American citizens, but he was born in China. He has kept his Chinese citizenship to make it easier for him to minister in Asia. In recent times, the Chinese government has increased control over Christian activities. Christians believe Pastor John may have been imprisoned because of stricter government rules.

Pastor John has been sentenced to seven years in prison. He is allowed to write only one letter a month. He misses his wife, children, mother, and siblings. He has several physical ailments.

But this is what Pastor John said in a letter to a family member: “Rejoice with me because I count this as kind of a privilege to suffer with my Lord. I am serious. I am not joking. This is a privilege.”

Pastor Cao hopes to be back at home with his family soon. But like the apostles in Acts 5, Pastor John is thankful for the opportunity to endure hard times for the name of Jesus.

This Thanksgiving, remember Christians who are in prison (Hebrew 13:3), and thank God for their faithful example to us and to those in prison with them.

(Sources include: vomradio.net and prisoneralert.com.)


Mama in Prison

(The story below comes from Stef, the children’s publication of SDOK, a ministry that is part of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions, and from the Kids of Courage archives. SDOK is in the Netherlands. The story has been translated then edited for length and clarity.)

Dad had always thought that one day he would be taken prisoner. But then Mom was arrested.

My father, Du Hongbo, worked for the church in the city where we lived. My mother, Cheng Jie, was director of a kindergarten. Agents came to our house and they took Mom with them. Dad was not at home at that moment. We were all very shocked by the arrest. The kindergarten schoolbooks did not mention anything about God or Jesus. In the kindergarten, the children did learn important Christian rules such as loyalty and honesty. The government says that the kindergarten did not follow the Chinese education law.

Dad Does His Best
My father found it very difficult that my mother was not there. He said: “Every time I looked at my children, I felt sad. I do not know how to take care of children. When they asked me something, I did not know what to say.”

But I thought he was doing his best. My brother was still a baby when Mom was arrested, so he did not remember her. But I missed her very much. I always asked for Mom.

Hard Work
Mom was sentenced to two years in prison. Dad was furious at first. But then he got peace. “I believe that God has everything in His hand,” he said. “This event teaches me to trust in the Lord. All I can do is pray and wait for God’s time.”

Mom had to work hard in prison. She got up at 5 am and worked until 10 pm! She got little food. Dad was allowed to visit her for half an hour a month. But Mom remained courageous. She told the Gospel to fellow prisoners and some of them believed.

I Keep Talking About Jesus
Mom was released in 2016! But she was closely watched. We have therefore moved to another province. My parents do not stop with their work for God. Dad says, “I always want to serve God. Wherever we are, I tell others about Jesus.”

I am proud of my parents.


Liang and Xun: Fifteen Winters Without a Dad

Uygur children

(The story below comes from Stef, the children’s publication of SDOK, a ministry that is part of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions. SDOK is in the Netherlands. The story has been translated from Dutch, then edited for length and clarity.)

Liang and Xun are brothers who live in a super large country. The Netherlands would fit inside their country 240 times. Do you know what country it is? It’s China.

Control
Many people in China follow traditional religions, or no religion at all. The government does not think this is a problem. But the Chinese government dislikes foreign religions. People who believe in one God are watched closely. Did you know that there are government cameras on the streets in China? And at churches and mosques? (A mosque is a building where Muslims worship.) You might not have thought so, but many Muslims live in China. Liang and Xun could tell you all about that. They live in the northwest part of China where many Muslims live. The Muslims are part of a people group called Uygurs.

The story of Liang and Xun
Liang and Xun’s parents were Muslim like others around them. Then Liang’s father started reading the Bible and became a Christian. You can understand that caused problems — they lived in a country where the government does not like religion and some Muslims do not like Christians. That is a double problem. That’s what Liang and Xun’s father noticed.

Heavy punishment
Ten years ago the police were very strict and keeping a close eye on the Christians. The boys’ father, Alimjan, was arrested and put in prison. “You talked about your faith with other people and that is against the law. And you have also spoken to foreigners and that is treason,” they told Alimjan. “There is a very high penalty for that. You get 15 years in prison.”

FIFTEEN YEARS! That is really a long time! Just figure out how old you will be in 15 years!

It takes so long
In the beginning, Liang hoped that his father would come home sooner. He prayed and prayed, and one night he asked his mother, “Mama, if two or three people who believe in the Lord Jesus are together, then God is there. Christians around the world ask God if Dad can go home quickly. Why is he not coming home? We’ve been without dad for two winters. I do not want to go another winter without a dad.” [See Matthew 18:20.]

Ten years later
But his father was not home that winter. And not the next winter either. Ten winters have passed, and the boys still have five winters to go. They can call their father once a month. And that is a celebration for the whole family.

Comfort
The boys’ mother, Gulner, says that you can learn a lot in difficult times. Through difficulties you learn to keep going, you get a strong spirit, and you learn to trust God more and more. Gulner learned this from the Bible, in Romans 5. She also feels that many Christians are praying for her family. Do you want to pray too?

Pray that Alimjan does not have to be in jail for another five years. Ask God to help the family members to not lose heart. Pray that they will continue to trust in God, even if it still takes five winters.

(To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed.)

Read more about courageous Uygur believers in Bold Believers Among China’s Uygurs, available in the Downloads section of this site.


Changes in China

Sunday school class in China

(Sources: China Aid and VOMRadio.net. Quotes edited for clarity and length.)

Churches in part of China were recently warned by authorities who want greater control over religion in their country.

The churches were told:
*You must remove the crosses at your building and replace them with a picture of the president of China or a Chinese flag.

*You must keep all children away from your church.

New government rules also say that churches must be willing to install surveillance cameras in their meeting places.

“Many pastors have gone into hiding because they know they are on the list to be the first to be arrested,” said a Christian worker in China. “Pastors are being arrested, some have been imprisoned, and churches have been closed…. In January [a church] was dynamited — the government blew it up.

“It is illegal to teach children Christianity. In one case, there was a grandmother who had been taking her grandson to church with her. The government told this family that the grandmother, who was on kidney dialysis, would no longer be allowed to continue the dialysis treatments if she continued to bring her grandson to church. So, what a choice!” (Dialysis is a procedure that keeps people alive whose kidneys have failed.)

“Christians are worried,” said a VOM worker. “We have no good answer except prayer.”

What Can You Pray?
*What can you pray for churches and pastors?
*What can you pray for Chinese government officials?
*What can you pray for the grandmother?
*What can you pray for her grandson and other children in China?