Stone of Jade

United States

~ 17 she/her ~
Aspiring writer and artist. Completely awestruck by night skies. Apart of many, many fandoms ;) Reader, journaler, collector.
~ pilot pens and beat-up notebooks ~
one half of the locket
Vice Pres. Cult of the Crunch

Message to Readers

This is my submission for my Engl 101 FINAL PAPER for this quarter *freaks out*
I am pretty proud of how this turned out, so I am sharing it with you all here.

The topic for the paper was addressing an underdog/giants paradox in society today. Even though I chose persecution, I did not realize how awful and difficult a topic it is--or how much of a problem it is.

I hope this paper gives a new light on the term "persecution." I wish I could go more in-depth but I had a word limit of 1,500 words (which went by so fast lol). I'm hoping to go more in-depth for this topic for next quarter's Engl 102 Final--which is 12-15 pages *freaks out more*

anyway...thanks for reading! Have a great night! (and wish me luck on my finals *whoop whoop*)

Persecuted, Yet Strong

December 10, 2020

FREE WRITING

5

Persecution of religion has been an issue throughout history. Sadly, it is not limited to the past. Even in today’s sophisticated society, persecution weighs heavy on those practicing religion, with Christianity receiving the most blows with the most frequency. Persecution takes many forms: discrimination, rejection, hostility, and even martyrdom. One Christian is killed every two hours for following Jesus (Help the Persecuted). According to the 2020 World Watch List report, there have been “over 260 million Christians under persecution...2,983 Christians were killed for their faith...9,488 churches under attack...and 3,711 believers detained without trial” (Serving Persecuted Christians). Yet even under the hostility of persecution, the Christian church thrives. This illustrates the giant/underdog concept that Canadian journalist Malcom Gladwell elaborates in his book David and Goliath. The “giants” are the powerful opponents; the “underdogs” are those who seem the disadvantaged. But Gladwell explains that there are advantages to having the disadvantage, and vice versa. "We think of things as helpful that actually aren’t and think of other things as unhelpful that in reality leave us stronger and wiser” (Gladwell, 25). The Christian church in China is an example of this paradox. The disadvantage of persecution provides an unexpected advantage to strengthening the faith that is being attacked. Even in a hostile environment, the Chinese church holds fast to its faith, and even grows stronger, under opposition. 

China's government thrives on its power over the people and thus regards Christianity as competition. This is the “giant” concept. The government abuses its position, seeking to control the people’s thoughts and beliefs. The Chinese churches appear to be the “underdogs.” The home-churches are small, of little congregation, yet the government sees their religion as a threat. As a result, the government does everything it can to tear down the people’s faith in anything other than the state-sanctioned religion. The government seeks to destroy the symbols of the Christian faith, tearing down the crosses and burning the churches where they worship (Enos, Kao). The restrictions are becoming more suffocating. The rise in power of China’s government and of President Xi Jinping’s Sinicization policy has made public worship difficult, and in some parts, nearly impossible (Enos, Kao). Dr. Naoko Eto, a research fellow for the Institute of Developing Economies and Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO), authored an article explaining the Sinicization policy that President Xi Jinping recently put into practice. To influence individuals to conform to the Communist Party, the CCP (China Communist Party) is now able to give active guidance to religions, “adapting them to the socialist society and adhering to the direction of Sinicized religion” (Naoko) Followers of Christianity in China are denied the right to express their beliefs, a right many take for granted in America. Because of their expression of faith, the Chinese churches are violently oppressed and persecuted. 

Persecution is the suffering for one’s faith, and suffering is the right word to describe the Chinese churches’ circumstances. Even state-run churches are being attacked. Pastors of these government-sanctioned churches have been sentenced to 14 years, which can be extended to 17 years for refusing to take down the symbol of the cross (Mission Box). Hundreds of churches have been burned and levelled with bombs by the CCP (Mission Box). Parents have been beaten in front of their own children, families have been forced out of their homes and into labor-transfer programs. Labor-transfer programs relocate workers outside their hometown, “uprooting individuals from their heritage...to secularizing their religion traditions to conform with the goals of the CCP” (Enos, Kao). The CCP is willing to tear families and cultures apart in order to mold the people’s religious beliefs. Yet even so, the church grows. Open Doors, a community dedicated to encouraging the persecuted Christians around the world, interviewed church-house leader, Qi Ming. He said the Chinese government often harassed his church. At one point, they tried to force the church to install surveillance cameras. The church refused and, as a result, the authorities raided Qi Ming’s house-church and arrested more than a hundred church members (Open Doors). The danger to Qi Ming and his family was so great, they were forced to flee their home. Even though his life was under attack, Qi Ming’s faith flourished. “If you really believe in Jesus, [persecution] must happen in your life...It made our faith more real,” Qi Ming said. Sadly, Qi Ming’s story is just one of over 260 million.  

Countless testimonies are shared by pastors of home-churches in China of the trials they have faced because of their faith. Another interviewee of Open Doors, Pastor Timothy (his name was changed in the article to protect his identity), recalled his imprisonment: “I was called to the police station for a ‘chat,’ but they locked me up, threatened...and interrogated me. When they locked me up, I just knelt in the cell and prayed. They told me I was not allowed to pray...during all their questioning and threats, I was never afraid. God gave me inner peace and confidence in Him.” Pastor Timothy then related how the police were intimidated by his joy during his imprisonment and let him go. Pastor Timothy’s church dealt with police harassment for months. Despite the police interrupting their services and even destroying their underground churches, the Christians kneeled together and prayed. They prayed to God for protection and even prayed for their persecutors. The principle is constant: followers of Christ in China are in constant danger, yet their faith stands strong. United by their faith, they stand together in Christ’s love. Pastor Timothy’s church lived out the command, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (ESV. Romans. 12.14). Even as the church watched their fellow believers imprisoned or killed, they did not retaliate in anger.  

There is one common lesson each persecuted Christian has learned: to hold a faith in Jesus means to suffer for it. Persecution was promised to Christians in the New Testament of the Bible: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect, lacking in nothing” (ESV. James. 1.2-4). Destruction and death are foretold: “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution...or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered’” (ESV. Romans. 8.36-35). Christians face opposition no matter where they live. However, their faith grows stronger under the opposition because they have hope in their Savior. No one can separate them from the love of God. There is no fear because man cannot harm them; death is not the end because they will live forever with Christ. The hostility meant to tear down their faith has the opposite intended result. The antagonism shown from these giants help strengthen the underdog’s faith.  

Not everyone’s faith flourishes under the oppression of persecution. There are those who succumb to the stress and pressure of the government, even turning on Christian family members. This, sadly, is also foretold in the New Testament: “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my [Jesus] name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (ESV. Mark.13.12-13). Persecution may cause some faith to falter, but that only shows that their faith was not true faith. Thus, a hidden advantage of persecution is it weeds out the false faith of the church and as a result, strengthens the unity of the true church. A large church may look prosperous, but it may not be united or strong in faith. When problems come, the church will split in disagreement. This looks to weaken the body of Christ, but the congregation is being strengthened through the unity of those who remain. When persecution does come, the prevailing Christians are ready, in their unity, to endure and suffer for their true faith.  

The David and Goliath illustration of the Chinese church is a sad one. Christians are suffering for their beliefs. They are suffering because they are denied the basic human right of expression of religion. In the Chinese churches’ case, this oppression from the imposing “giants” help to strengthen the faith of those who suffer. Persecution is happening, and more is still to come. Persecution for one’s faith is inevitable. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Jesus Christ will be persecuted” (ESV, 2 Timothy. 3.12). And yet, the church in China remains faithful and strong. Once again, the Goliath cannot defeat the David. 
 
Works Cited: 
 
China Aid. “China Church Grows Despite Intense Persecution.” Missions Box, 26 Aug. 2020, missionsbox.org/news/china-church-grows-despite-intense-persecution/. Date accessed: 11/30/20 
 
Cook, Sarah. “Worsening Religious Persecution in China Requires Stronger U.S. Response.” Freedom House, 20 Mar. 2020, freedomhouse.org/article/worsening-religious-persecution-china-requires-stronger-us-response. Date accessed: 11/30/20 
 
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Crossway, Good News Publishers, 2016. 
 
Enos, Olivia, and Emilie Kao. “Religious Persecution in China Must Be Called Out.” The Heritage Foundation, Religious Liberty, 14 Oct. 2020, www.heritage.org/religious-liberty/commentary/religious-persecution-china-must-be-called-out. Date accessed: 11/30/20 
 
Eto, Naoko. “Why Does the Xi Jinping Administration Advocate the ‘Sinicization’ of Religion?: SPF China Observer EN.” 笹川平和財団, 11 Aug. 2018, www.spf.org/spf-china-observer/en/document-detail008.html
 
Gladwell, Malcolm. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. Back Bay Books, 2013.  
 
“Help the Persecuted.” Help the Persecuted | HTP.org, 30 Nov. 2020, htp.org/. 
 
“Serving Persecuted Christians.” Open Doors USA, 23 Nov. 2020, www.opendoorsusa.org/. Date accessed: 11/30/20 

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  • December 10, 2020 - 11:47am (Now Viewing)

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3 Comments
  • anemoia (#words)

    wow. first of all, a stunningly well written essay. second... it's like i know this, but i didn't really. and it hurts. it hurts. third, i love the malcolm gladwell reference! his writing is so interesting. i really want to read some more of his work (i've read blink and david and goliath). fourth, i'm strangely glad that you tackled this heavy topic. fifth, you've inspired me to maybe publish some of my essays on here. i don't mind essay writing too much, and i usually do well... also, good luck on finals! i've got them next week too, and i'm actually nervous. <3<3<3


    5 months ago
  • mirkat

    woah really informative and impactful... i did something kinda sorta like this a while ago about religious intolerance but like with Quakers and not nearly as detailed or eloquently written. also i'm in 8th grade, so it's different than high school. the most pages i've written for a school paper is a 7 page thing for my IRP last year (or Independent Research Project). blahhhhhhh the right of passage for all 7th graders lol. i hate analytical writing tho... takes up my brain cells and i can't be creative really. well good luck on your finals and this assignment. i think you are going to do amazingly! <3<3<3


    5 months ago
  • The Ravenclaw Dragon

    Wow! This is a very powerful piece of writing! My own church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) used to get persecuted by other churches. If you want, you could read a historical fiction I wrote about when we got persecuted in 1833. Here's a link: https://writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/196135/version/406491 . This was a really inspiring piece. Keep on writing!


    5 months ago