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Communists Killed His Water and Power, but Persecuted Christian Still Using Secret Tech to Lead Underground Church

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Even though all unauthorized online religious activities are now banned in China, one persecuted Chinese Christian leader said he will continue to share the gospel via social media with people in "freedom and joy."

A little more than a month after Beijing's new Measures for the Administration of Internet Religious Information Service went into effect on March 1, International Christian Concern interviewed a Christian leader from a persecuted Chinese house church using an encrypted app. 

The persecution watchdog explained the church leader had refused to leave his house church in order to join the government-approved Three-Self church. He has been detained several times by local authorities, who even shut off the water and electricity to his home.  

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For the interview, the ICC gave the man the name of Gianni in order to keep his identity a secret. The organization asked, how the church was able to spread the gospel, gather and communicate under the new restrictions. 

"In my religious life, I use technology for communication on two fronts," he explained. "First is to publicly witness and spread the gospel: I use social media that is used within China, mainly WeChat and its public account. Second, it is for my serving at church. I would use Telegram, which is blocked in China, so I need to employ VPN {to gain access}. For worship, we use Zoom."

Gianni told the ICC that the internet played an important role in keeping churches together. 

"From a church-building perspective, technology has provided a minimum guarantee. When house churches are cracked down, there is at least a basic connection between the leadership team and the congregation, or members to members," he said. "That way the flock will not disperse completely if being struck. Without internet, gathering and the link between Christians would be very weak, scattered, and in smaller scale. With this technology, now we can still maintain online gathering with more than 500 participants."

When the ICC asked about his fears of being detected by the Chinese government, Gianni replied, I am not afraid of the government's secret investigation. Our faith is "declare with your mouth and believe in your heart," publicly testifying for Him in the name of Jesus Christ. It is neither the Church's responsibility nor does it have the capacity to counter the investigation. We are a fellowship formed by God's children, not a spy agency. Our purpose is so that the souls live in truth, freedom, and joy, not to make our flesh more secure."

The Christian leader explained it is not difficult from a technical standpoint to evade government detection, since the server for the app the church uses is in another country, so the government cannot obtain user information that way. 

"I have dealt with their law enforcement departments for a while now, and I have discovered that they are in fact frail and clumsy," he noted. 

Gianni said his church continues to share updates to tell the world what is happening to Christians in China, and asked for everyone to pray for them. 

"Though house churches in China have endured tremendous crackdown, it has not reached the point where I lose my freedom, or my life is under threat," he told the ICC. Since I have not lost faith, I will try to keep living my life to do the following: share the gospel with people in freedom and joy, receive new brothers and sisters and disciple train them, send preachers to plant churches."

"If I shall be incarcerated, then so be it. Nothing will separate us from the love of Christ," Gianni added. 

"Brothers and sisters in the West, please pay attention to our situation and pray for us. We would be grateful for that," he continued. 

As CBN News reported in December, China's State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) announced new measures that restrict all forms of religious activities. 

All live broadcasts or online recordings of religious ceremonies are now banned. Churches, religious groups, and colleges that plan to conduct online worship services must obtain an Internet Religious Information Service Permit.

All approved online religious activities must not "incite subversion of state power, oppose the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership, undermine the socialist system, national unity, and social stability." 

And religious groups cannot use the internet to "induce minors to become religious, organize them, or force them to participate in religious activities."

Also, last December, China's President Xi Jinping spoke at the National Conference on Work Related to Religious Affairs where he reaffirmed that "Sinicization" of religion shall align with the CCP's goals and guidelines, Bitter Winter reports.

Sinicization was introduced in 2015 with plans to "make religious groups within China submit to socialism and the CCP's ideology by assimilating them into a unified identity with Chinese characteristics."

Xi has prohibited Christians from converting people and sharing religious content on social media. He's been forcing the government-controlled Three-Self Church to "immediately" enforce the new directives. 

He also requested a more thorough look into Karl Marx's texts on religion by all who are involved in the oversight of religious activities in China.

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of