One year before China hosts the Olympics in Beijing, Chinese persecution watchdog China Aid Association (CAA) has launched a prayer campaign to minimise the blow of a predicted increase in persecution against Christians around the time of the Games.
CAA President the Rev Bob Fu has sent out a call to Chinese Christians and supporters around the world to pray for the success of the event.
"Knowing there will be the unavoidable persecution by potential Chinese officials, the Chinese house church believers felt led to render intercessory prayers for more global love and peace, via launching continual mass media prayer networks for the Olympics event, as a cornerstone of reinforcing a united and true patriotic spirit," he said.
One consultant working for Beijing’s Olympics organising committee, who requested anonymity, told Associated Press news agency last month that “demonstrations of all kinds are a concern” and that the Chinese Government is “trying to find out what kinds of NGOs will come…What are there plans?”
There has been speculation that Christians will mount demonstrations against China’s well documented violations of religious freedom.
Christians in the US have been particularly active in speaking out against persecution around the Olympics. A number of demonstrations have been held in Washington DC by Christians and human rights organisations calling on the US Government to use the Olympics to put pressure on China over its policy of returning North Korean refugees to the secluded communist country.
US human rights activists have urged people not to travel to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics unless China allows the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR access to North Koreans hiding in its territory.
“We have to hold China’s face to the light and feet to the fire,” said Carl Moeller, President of Open Doors USA, at a rally in protest of China’s repatriation of North Koreans in April. “If the world doesn’t stand up and hold China accountable in its policy on repatriation, then it is responsible for the death of thousands every year."
Open Doors, a ministry that supports the worldwide persecuted church, has called on Christians to take part in its one year campaign to “blanket China in prayer” with the aim of bringing spiritual change to the communist country.
“The Beijing Olympics presents an awesome opportunity for believers in the West to unite in prayer … not only for our fellow Christians but for the communist government of China to grant religious freedom to all worshippers, especially house church members,” said Moeller.
The Chinese House Church Alliance in the US and churches from Midland, Texas, the hometown of the US President George W Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, recently joined together for special intercessory prayer meetings in Beijing.
"CAA has been working hand in hand with both the Chinese and American churches to enhance more synergy in the intra- and inter-societal build-up protocols in China,” said Rev Fu.
“We pray and believe in faith that a successful and more harmonious Olympics in China can help stretch China toward far-sightedness responsibility and accountability, while rendering more worldwide humanitarian compassion in a freer and more freedom-embracing country."