The Olympic Games begin, Christians persecuted

From Mission Network News

Please be in prayer for the many countries where God’s people suffer persecution. Pray especially for China that God would do a work there.

China (MNN) ― 8.8.08 signals the start of the long-awaited 2008 Beijing Olympic Games with the elaborate opening ceremonies.

The Chinese consider eight a lucky number because in Cantonese it sounds like the word for “get rich” or “prosper.”

Many Chinese will celebrate Aug. 8, 2008 as one the most important dates in Chinese history — the launching of a prestigious event for the entire world to see the “new, open China.”

Johnnie Lee with Open Doors agrees. “China is more open. I think it’s the best religious freedom improvement in the last few hundreds of years. And, I think the believer in China is practicing more religious freedom than before. That’s not to say we’re perfect. We still have a lot of room to grow.”

Lee is hoping that once the Olympics are completed, even more openness will be seen.

But many Christians are hardly “lucky” this year. The fact is that many Christians have suffered even harsher persecution by the Chinese government due to the glare of the Olympic spotlight. Lee says, “They [are] on the run because of the Olympic Games. The government did not like them in Beijing or some of the cities where [some of the events are being held]. And they were afraid they would meet with the media and say something they wouldn’t like.”

As a result, many have been thrown into prison or transported to areas far away from Beijing and the Games venues. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) reported last week that nearly 700 Protestant leaders who are not registered with the government have been placed in custody in the past year.

Open Doors is urging Christians in the United States to e-mail Chinese Ambassador to the United States Zhou Whenzong to express concern over the status of believers, especially Shi, including his lack of access to medical care and medicines, adequate clothing, visitation rights for his family, and a fair and prompt trial. To send an e-mail and for more information, go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.

Open Doors is looking for prayer warriors to host a special prayer event in their church or small group during the Games Aug. 8-24. Open Doors is offering resources in the “Get-Set-Pray” kit. The materials can be downloaded from the Open Doors web site.

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