Open Doors Partner Philip Li* has just visited suffering Believers from a Muslim Background in Western China to understand their situation, encourage them, and relay their prayer needs to us on the outside.
Please pray for the situation in Western China where travel restrictions have been increased to limit the movement of people (and contain the Covid virus) in the lead-up to the Winter Olympics in Beijing. In some areas, residents are confined to their homes. But it is not just the pandemic control that is making life difficult. A convergence of other regulations is causing considerable heartache for many Believers from a Muslim Background.
“The economy is struggling, and many people can’t find work,” Philip shares. “There is a transition now to use local coal instead of imported coal which has tripled the price. BMBs in the mountains rely on coal for cooking and heating during the freezing winter months, but now they can’t afford to buy enough for winter.
“On another front, many ‘missionaries’ who moved out west to start a business were evicted from the region if their business was found to have a Christian agenda, especially if they were evangelizing, supporting, or employing BMBs to work for them. I too have had to be very shrewd. Some business owners and sometimes their staff were held for questioning, most for one day, some for up to 3 days.”
The Party line adopted by local authorities is that Christian evangelism will ruin the promotion of the Belt and Road initiative, a global investment strategy to link China with Central Asia via the old Silk Road routes. Underpinning this pushback by the government is the fear of any kind of social unrest, which they imagine may result if Muslims become Christians.
Initially, the Belt and Road initiative provided local missionaries with easier access to the West, but the latest campaign has sent many back home, leaving BMBs on their own again.
“Some BMBs have suffered greatly due to the restrictions and intense surveillance,” says Philip, “and in a few extreme cases, they have even reverted to alcohol or drugs to numb the pain. Please pray for them.”
Over the past few years, as the authorities strove to purge the region of religious materials, many BMBs disposed of their own Bibles thinking they would one day download a new copy. However, the government has blocked sites that offer free downloads of these minority language Bibles.
Despite these hardships, a few BMBs bravely continue to find ways to secretly meet, read the Bible and pray together. Let us pray for them to stand strong despite the restrictions and the Bible ban. Be a hero of faith today through your prayers! Click here to see how you can pray for believers in China, making sure that though they are persecuted, that they are never alone.
*Names changed for security purposes