A New Testament scholar has revealed that just like in the New Testament, miraculous stories of triumph and perseverance of followers of Christ are occurring at a dramatic rate within the persecuted Chinese Church.
Jeremiah Johnston, apologist, New Testament scholar, and author of Unanswered, told The Christian Post that he recently met with a Christian missionary in China who, along with a number of others, practices his faith underground for fear of government reprisal - much like the persecuted churches did in the book of Acts.
"I was in China recently with a missionary who is over 5,000 [other] missionaries in the underground church. He looked at me in Beijing and he said - to both my wife and myself - 'Jeremiah and Audrey,' he said, 'everything you read about in the book of Acts is happening in China right now. The Spirit of God is at work mightily. Everything you read about in the book of Acts - God is doing today,'" he said.
While China officially guarantees freedom of religion, the government has exhibited a growing discomfort with Christianity, whose followers are said to rival in number the 86 million members of the Communist Party. The Pew Research Center puts the number of Christians in China at 67 million, 58 million of whom are Protestant and 9 million Catholic.
In an effort to suppress the growth of Christianity, local governments have removed more than 1,200 crosses from churches and other buildings since 2014, citing regulations on illegal structures. 500 activists and lawyers who opposed the cross demolition campaign have been detained in the last year, with many still imprisoned.
"The leaders think Christianity is a foreign religion and it is part of a foreign culture, which they define as 'Western' culture," church leader Chen Zhi'ain told CNN earlier this year. "They see our growth as an invasion of Western culture into China."
Despite such opposition, Christian congregations in China continue to skyrocket, prompting experts to speculate that by 2030, the country will be not just the world's number one economy, but also its largest Christian nation.
Even more telling of China's growing Christian population - a recent study found that online searches for the words "Christian Congregation" and "Jesus" far outnumbered those for "The Communist Party" and "Xi Jinping," China's president.
"By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon," Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule, told The Telegraph.
"It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change."
But while persecuted churches across the globe are full of the Holy Spirit, Johnston said many Western churches seem to have "fallen asleep."
"This winded, out of shape church of the West can't figure out if we want to share all the counsel of God's Word. I'm not surprised that God doesn't work as mightily in a church that's fallen asleep and been lulled asleep. ... We need our Church to be awakened, and we need to have a thinking faith to be awakened - where we can see God do the miraculous and trust Him to do that, and we see that reflected right now in the persecuted Church."
He added, "There's not a doubt there are miracles all around us," he told CP. "Sometimes, though, we have our heads in the sand - we just don't see them. We don't give God the glory for them."