Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Look for a Building With a Cross on It

 

 Since it’s Sunday, I thought it would be appropriate to write my first guest post about the courageous Christians in China who help North Koreans there. As I quickly learned when researching Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad, the first survival tip many North Koreans hear when they flee to China is: Find a Christian. Or, as more than one North Korean refugee described to me, he is told: “Look for a building with a cross on it.”

Escape from North Korea chronicles the only good-news story out of North Korea: People are getting out. Almost all of them flee first to China, where they trade one circle of hell for another. China’s immoral policy is to track them down, arrest them and repatriate them. Since it’s a crime to leave North Korea without permission, the returnees are treated very harshly – thrown in to prison and sometimes even executed for such “crimes” as meeting an American missionary in China or plotting to go to South Korea.

In China, the North Korean who finds his way to a church is likely to be safer than one who doesn’t. It’s illegal to help a North Korean in China, but church people routinely dare defy the law and do so anyway. The sooner a refugee hooks up with the Christian network, the greater his chances of avoiding arrest and repatriation and of finding a way to disappear safely into Chinese society. If he wants to go to South Korea, church people can help him navigate his way to the underground railroad and obtain passage out of China. This is risky business. I know of a Chinese Christian—a pastor’s wife—who went to jail for two years because she bought train tickets for North Koreans. (Foreigners are at risk too. Steven Kim, a businessman from Long Island, spent four years in prison in China because he helped North Korean refugees.)

There are at least 70 million Christians in China today, or 5% of the population. That is nearly the same number of people who belong to the Communist Party. A top Party official felt it necessary to warn last year that Party members are required to be atheists: “Our party’s principled stand regarding forbidding members from believing in religions has not changed one iota,” he said.

It’s interesting to ponder whether the growth of Christianity in China has the potential to change that country in any essential way. Christianity is about the power of the individual. Surely that’s incompatible with Chinese Communism—or is it?

 

There are 19 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. HVTs Inactive

    It’s interesting to ponder whether the growth of Christianity in China has the potential to change that country in any essential way. Christianity is about the power of the individual. Surely that’s incompatible with Chinese Communism—or is it?

    Christianity was incompatible with the pagan Roman Empire, that is until it took it over. There’s no reason the Middle Kingdom can’t enjoy a similar fate. 70 Million Christians? That means there are well more Chinese Christians than citizens of the United Kingdom. If they populated their own country, they’d be the 19th most populous nation state on Earth. Oh yeah, this is more than possible. Collectivist totalitarianism drives people to doctrines that validate their individuality and nurture their longing for voluntary spiritual fulfillment. Atheism collapses everywhere it is imposed, which explains why the CCP feels compelled to reiterate party doctrine.

    • #1
    • September 24, 2012, at 1:05 AM PDT
    • Like
  2. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Byron Horatio: I’d be curious to know the Christian birth rates of China vs. secular Chinese. And how much China’s Spartan eugenics policy has stunted its further growth. 

    I’ve always thought that the greatest missed opportunity of the 20th century was losing China to Communism. A Chiang Kai-Shek victory in 1949 would have meant the most populous country in the world would remain in the Allied camp, on the road to Westernization, capitalism, and possibly even Christianizing. China suffered probably as much if not greater than any other country in WWII as our ally. It was such a tragedy that it was lost. 

    Thanks for the great topic, Melanie! · 1 minute ago

    The question is a very good one and I’d bet money that we see the same disparity in religious v. non-religious family size in China as here, perhaps more pronounced because of the odious policies you mention. Like you I wish we had done a lot more to help the Chinese against both the Japanese and their own Communists back in the 1930’s and 1940’s. 

    • #2
    • September 24, 2012, at 1:09 AM PDT
    • Like
  3. Hartmann von Aue Member

    As for Kirkpatrick’s rhetorical question: Of course Christianity is incompatible with Communism in any form. The state will have to change or die. As for whether the Church will continue to thrive and eventually become a dominant force in Chinese society, be persistent in hope. This week the Catholic church up the road celebrated the feast of the Korean matyrs- and was packed with Koreans/Americans of Korean descent. South Korea is now sending nearly as many missionaries to sub-Saharan Africa as the U.S. and the “Back to Jerusalem” movement was started by Chinese Christians, not westerners, with Koreans and other Asians providing a lot of the expansion.

    • #3
    • September 24, 2012, at 1:13 AM PDT
    • Like
  4. Melanie Kirkpatrick, Guest Con… Contributor

    I’ve never seen any numbers on the birth rate among Christians. I’d note that Christianity is growing in popularity among the educated, middle class — a group that would be better able to afford the high fines that the government imposes on families that dare to defy its one-child policy and have a second child.

    • #4
    • September 24, 2012, at 1:18 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. Melanie Kirkpatrick, Guest Con… Contributor

    Responding to Hartmann von Aue’s comment on South Korean missionaries: South Korea is second only to the U.S. in the number of Christian missionaries it sends abroad. One very sad aspect though that I found in my research on Escape from North Korea: not many South Korean missionaries help North Koreans. They seem far more interested in serving Indians than in their own brothers and sisters from the North. 

    • #5
    • September 24, 2012, at 1:23 AM PDT
    • Like
  6. Profile Photo Member

    Thank you for you post! It brought tears to my eyes, to hear about Christians in China being the church body that Jesus meant for them to be, regardless of the suffering they endure. I’m reminded of the high price that the members of the Confessing Church paid in Nazi Germany, as they rescued Jews and were viciously persecuted themselves.It’s also got me thinking about the HHS mandate in the USA. Have we now launched down a slippery slope, too?

    • #6
    • September 24, 2012, at 1:57 AM PDT
    • Like
  7. Devereaux Inactive

    Ms Kirkpatrick — welcome.

    You note the importance of the Christian church in getting North Koreans OUT of NK. You should also note that in the NE part of NK, during the worst of the famine, a spontaneous market erupted in Chongjin that thrived – without any regulation. It introduced that area of NK’s not only to “affordable” food, but things like coloured cloth, something they had never seen.

    I would suggest the book Nothing To Envy by Barbara Demick as a read to any who seek description of life in NK, some of the most depressing existence seen for at least centuries, as well as things like the spontaneous creation of a functioning market.

    • #7
    • September 24, 2012, at 2:11 AM PDT
    • Like
  8. Mel Foil Inactive
    Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power (Dr. David Aikman)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvgveawp4oY&t=5m30s
    • #8
    • September 24, 2012, at 2:18 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. Chris Johnson Inactive

    Thank you, Mealnie. What an interesting topic! I like imagining what it must be like for those Chinese Christians.

    Personally, I can’t abide churches, based upon the wide variety of spaces I have visited. I want no more of the Big Screens and the small messages, no more of the tiresome sermons that urge us to work for social justice that I have to sit through in every denomination.

    There is nothing like an actual mission to literally save people, to focus parishioners upon their duties. Here, one local church encourages folks to take time off and run boats full of illegals across the dangerous border of the southern United States.

    Not really the same thing, is it?

    • #9
    • September 24, 2012, at 2:24 AM PDT
    • Like
  10. dash Inactive

    We are often implored to pray for Christians in China (and other countries where they are persecuted), but from the relative comfort of our western lives, we often gloss over that request, or forget it altogether (and when I say “we”, I mean “me”).

    Thanks for this post, which brings into focus the reality for millions of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    • #10
    • September 24, 2012, at 3:41 AM PDT
    • Like
  11. kathy Lin Inactive

    Dr. David Eikman hosted a seminar on his college campus to promote God is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China last year. I personally sold over 50 copies of Chinese version in bay area.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/liao-yiwu/christianity-china-god-is-red_b_960498.html

    Speaking of “70 million Christians in China today”, I guess Melanie means including 15 million Catholics too ( almost one percent of the population). Out of 4 million belong to Patriotic Catholic Church, the rest belong to underground churches. There are a quarter of Catholics living in my province, surrounding Beijing.

    Last year, Dr. Aikman wrote many reports about Beijing Shouwang Church, and taught me many tips how to deal with media interview. Thanks for sharing his book!

    I sincerely ask for your prayer and support to voice out for all the unregistered churches in China, and for sure they are the only hope of a peaceful China. http://www.facebook.com/prayforshouwang

    Mel Foil: Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power (Dr. David Aikman)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvgveawp4oY&t=5m30s · 32 minutes ago
    • #11
    • September 24, 2012, at 3:50 AM PDT
    • Like
  12. Edward Smith Inactive

    I half think there are more Chinese Christians than Christians of European Extraction in New York City. I mean Christians, not Social Christians.

    HVTs

    It’s interesting to ponder whether the growth of Christianity in China has the potential to change that country in any essential way. Christianity is about the power of the individual. Surely that’s incompatible with Chinese Communism—or is it?

    Christianity was incompatible with the pagan Roman Empire, that is until it took it over. There’s no reason the Middle Kingdom can’t enjoy a similar fate. 70 Million Christians? That means there are well more Chinese Christians than citizens of the United Kingdom. If they populated their own country, they’d be the 19th most populous nation state on Earth. Oh yeah, this is more than possible. Collectivist totalitarianism drives people to doctrines that validate their individuality and nurture their longing for voluntary spiritual fulfillment. Atheism collapses everywhere it is imposed, which explains why the CCP feels compelled to reiterate party doctrine. · 2 hours ago

    • #12
    • September 24, 2012, at 4:03 AM PDT
    • Like
  13. Melanie Kirkpatrick, Guest Con… Contributor

    I would remind everyone that the plight of North Korean Christians, to the extent that they exist, is far, far worse. Religion is banned in North Korea. A few years ago the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported a case of Christians who had been captured and pressed to recant. When they refused, a steamroller was ordered and they were run down and killed. 

    • #13
    • September 24, 2012, at 5:33 AM PDT
    • Like
  14. Mel Foil Inactive
    Melanie Kirkpatrick, Guest Contributor: I would remind everyone that the plight of North Korean Christians, to the extent that they exist, is far, far worse. Religion is banned in North Korea. A few years ago the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported a case of Christians who had been captured and pressed to recant. When they refused, a steamroller was ordered and they were run down and killed.

    “To the extent that they exist” is right. If North Korean Christians survive more than a few years, they’re more like undercover intelligence agents.

    • #14
    • September 24, 2012, at 7:05 AM PDT
    • Like
  15. Esther Inactive

    I’m fascinated, and will read this book ASAP! That being said, and not trying to be a downer… does this book endanger Chinese Christians, and the railroad? Love knowing that they exist, but have to ask…

    • #15
    • September 24, 2012, at 7:46 AM PDT
    • Like
  16. Stan Hjerleid Inactive

    I’d also recommend Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden. We are so blessed to live in America.

    • #16
    • September 24, 2012, at 7:56 AM PDT
    • Like
  17. cdor Member
    cdor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I have always felt that the best thing we can do for third worlders was not to give money, but to allow market access and teach capitalism. Someone must have been listening to me, sarcasm, sarcasm. Look at China and India with their remarkable increase in middle class incomes and lifestyles. But I hadn’t given enough credit to Christianity which provides the moral underpinning for capitalism. When 5% becomes 25% communism will be finished in China.

    P.S.

    Please excuse my rudeness Ms Kirkpatrick. Welcome to Ricochet.

    • #17
    • September 24, 2012, at 12:12 PM PDT
    • Like
  18. Brad B. Inactive

    I’d be curious to know the Christian birth rates of China vs. secular Chinese. And how much China’s Spartan eugenics policy has stunted its further growth. 

    I’ve always thought that the greatest missed opportunity of the 20th century was losing China to Communism. A Chiang Kai-Shek victory in 1949 would have meant the most populous country in the world would remain in the Allied camp, on the road to Westernization, capitalism, and possibly even Christianizing. China suffered probably as much if not greater than any other country in WWII as our ally. It was such a tragedy that it was lost. 

    Thanks for the great topic, Melanie!

    • #18
    • September 24, 2012, at 12:52 PM PDT
    • Like

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.