When trying to understand the Church in China, it’s easy to let predetermined narratives drive our interpretation of the things we observe. A recent article in the Huffington Post is a clear example of this.

In an article titled “Inside China’s Secret Churches: How Christians Practice Their Faith Under An Atheist Government,” the paper published a series of photographs purportedly showing Christians worshiping in a secret church in Beijing.

However, the photos actually show the opposite of what the article says they depict. Instead of being photographs of a secret church service in Beijing, they are in fact, photographs taken in one of Beijing’s more prominent “open” house churches. The so-called “open” house churches are those that have, despite their illegal and unregistered status, decided to come out of the shadows (secret) and function openly.

Not only is the church depicted in these photographs not a secret church; it is a church that is in the forefront of this “open” house church movement. In fact, in October 2012, the pastor of this church was interviewed by the mainland website Christian Times (yes, there is such a thing) about the vision he has for his church. A translation of the interview (in two parts, here and here) can be found on Chinese Church Voices.


To be sure, there are still many churches in China, both in the cities and countryside, that prefer to remain secret, but the church depicted in these photographs is not one of them! A more accurate headline would have been “A House Church in Beijing Steps Out of the Shadows.”

At Within Reach Global, most of our ministry does take place in stealth, for the mere fact that persecution does exist, especially far off the beaten path and distanced from the central government. Most of our local missionaries have been questioned, interrogated, followed by plain clothes police, and even beaten for their faith.

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Please pray for our team as we reach out to some of China’s least reached people groups.

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For more on China’s unregistered house churches:

“House Church” versus “Three Self”: Cooperation across the Christian Community in China
House Church Attitudes towards Government Authorities
House Church and TSPM: Surprising Admissions in China’s Official Press
The Chinese Church and the Global Body of Christ 


Original post at chsource.org
Photo credit: Huffington Post

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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