The British newspaper The Telegraph, http://bit.ly/S4nyo8, reports on the demolition of the Sanjiang Church building in a rich eastern Chinese city Wen Zhou shocked the Christian world. The so called “Jerusalem of the East” church building was totally torn down without “one stone left on another” on April 28th, 2014. According to the government announcement, that building has exceeded the governmental approved building limitation excessively (10,000 vs. 1,800 sqms) and it is one of the illegal buildings in that city which have been demolished (totally over 863,000 sqms) in the recent campaign of the city government against illegal buildings. Five government officials have been accused malfeasance because they failed to stop the illegal church building construction during its twelve years constructing process.
Some would say that this is an indication of another round of persecution toward Christians in China. That would be very sad of China after thirty six years of successful social and economical reformation. Apparently, there are still lots of restrains to religious freedom although the National Constitution clearly announces that Chinese people could enjoy it. Among all religions in China, Christianity has always been related to imperialism because of the early missionary movement into China were majorly from the western countries following successful military actions of westerners in China during the late nineteenth century. Although the tension between the communist government and foreign missionaries has been significantly mitigated during the past three decades, there are still radical atheists playing important role in the governmental authority. The close connection between the local Christian community and the foreign Christian mission boards and political leaders is highly sensitive to the contemporary Chinese government. This is a very important task to the Chinese Christian leaders to ease the misunderstanding in the society and realize that Christian community is still a minority comparing with the vast number of Chinese population, although the number of Christians has excitedly boosted during recent years. Any exaggerating optimism would easily lead to arrogation and sadly results like this.
I am intrigued about the name “Jerusalem of the east”. There is probably no theological foundation but longing for secular glory. People of Wen Zhou are proud of their business achievement not only in China but also around the world. They have accumulated large amount of wealth through their hard working and eloquently compare their business success to that of Jewish people. So that they claim themselves to be “the Jews of the east”. It might because of such sentiment, the Christian “Jews of the east” would like to name their building “Jerusalem of the east”. From such a name, it is easy to perceive the religious passion of the Jewish people of the Old Testament rather than any clue of the New Testament. A successful church doesn’t merely equals to a large number of congregation, a huge building on the earth, but a church in Jesus Christ which no one could demolish, a church that every member longs for the truth of God and everyone would participate the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. Twelve struggling years and more than five million dollars have been spent on such a tragedy. Fortunately, no one was injured, both sides remained restraint during the conflict. Personally, I am not in favor of revoking obvious conflict against any state jurisdiction. Now, I must pray to God for Chinese Christians and for His guidance to their church leaders.