China has a growing and strong Christian population in every respect. The official church is made up of both Protestant and Catholic. The Protestant church is mainly Presbyterian with some Baptists, Methodists and other evangelical groups. It has survived enormous persecution but has flourished since the early eighties, and in spite of rigorous government control is growing rapidly. There is a shortage of training centers and as a result a shortage of trained ministers. The Communist Religious Affairs Department keeps a watchful eye on the many strands of the official Three Self Church.
The unofficial church is often known as the underground church and has also had massive growth over the last fifty years. It has a very organic structure and many different streams. There has been a wonderful outpouring of the Spirit throughout the underground church which has accelerated the planting of many new congregations. Whilst there is a great deal of animosity between the Three Self Church and the unofficial church, there is also interchange. Many pastors within the official church were brought to Christ through the underground church. Sometimes because of oppressive government regulations, pastors have left the Three Self Church and minister within the unofficial church
China is a land of contradictions. In some places Christians
still suffer persecution, while in other areas there is great freedom. The 'Fulang
Gong' cult's open protest of lack of religious freedom has brought even more
insistent persecution against the Christian community. The government tends
to lump all unofficial groups together, even though the Chinese Christians are
often the most highly respected people within the local communities. Slowly
but surely the government seems to be realising this and even acknowledges that
many within the Communist Party are Christians.
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