A Chinese-Christian activist recently encouraged believers within China to stand firm in their faith despite experiencing "the worst persecution since the Cultural Revolution."
"We are seeing the worst persecution in China since the Cultural Revolution," Bob Fu told Christian Today, citing the latest crackdown on churches, including those sanctioned by the communist party, as evidence that the government is working to crush the 'threat' of religion.
"There has been forced demolition, the removal of crosses, over 300 churches have been attacked and government sanctioned church pastors sentenced to 12 years in prison. Multiple believers have been attacked and hospitalised, and thousands of police were mobilised to attack a church. That has not been seen since the time of the Cultural Revolution. It's overwhelming."
Before he was arrested by the Chinese Communist Party's secret police, Fu worked in the heart of the government, teaching English to officials. But by night, he shared the Gospel with the large underground network of Christians.
"Both my wife and I knew that sooner or later we would face 'prison theology'," Fu told Christian Today of his early days as a home-church pastor.
"That's the experience of Chinese Christians. We were always told that if you wanted to be a faithful follower of Jesus, you would have to take that course. So I remember [my wife] Heidi and I prayed specifically: 'Lord, at least give us three years to set ourselves up with a more solid ground.' We were still weak in faith and wanted to prepare ourselves. Three years later, in 1996, we were both arrested. In a sense, I felt that was the grace of the Lord."
During his two months in prison, Fu was continually tortured by police. However, he continued to fearlessly preach the gospel, calling it a "mission field...so many hungry and thirsty souls waiting to listen to the Gospel."
After his release, Fu secretly fled the country with his wife, Heidi, and eventually came to the United States.
"I have not been back since then, although the Chinese government has launched multiple attempts to lure me back," Fu reveals. "They want to neutralize my voice."
"They've extended multiple invitations for me to have meetings with top secret agents, but in any country except the US," Fu added.
"I think that tells. So I said 'Come over to the US, I'll treat you to a Texas steak.'"
If he were to return, Fu believes he would face life imprisonment, if not the death sentence, for sharing the reality of persecution against Christians in China.
Because of his passion for home country, Fu heads China Aid, a group which aims to advance religious freedom by "walking with the persecuted, by being a voice, exposing abuses and equipping the leaders".
Despite the ongoing persecution in China, Fu says he is "very optimistic" about the long-term future of Chinese Christians.
"The attacks have been barbaric...but on the other hand, the communist party has not learnt its lessons. When it took power in 1949, there were less than one million Christians. After 60 years of non-stop persecution, look at it now!"
"On the other hand, I see the Chinese Church cannot win the battle by itself. We need support, standing shoulder to shoulder with our Christian brothers and sisters. We are, after all, one body of Christ, one Church.
"We cannot be silent. We cannot afford to be silent."
Fu has been named a modern day "hero of the faith" by Christian History magazine.
His book God's Double Agent, is published by Lion Hudson and is available now.