Landing in Beijing for the first time can be exciting but intriguing too. For a new comer in this bustling city, a plethora of questions can run in your mind about whether you are free to publicly worship, and if you are, then where to go to join other worshipers.
Prior to my visit to Beijing, I had been told many things about China as a country. One of the most inhospitable things was that China persecutes Christians. In fact, a friend of mine threatened me that once I would get to the airport with my Bible, it would be confiscated!
I ignored this, and I took the Bible with me. Arriving at the Beijing airport, I started experiencing things that were different from what I had been told.
From the airport, I proceeded to the Jianguomenwai Diplomatic Residence Compound where I would spend my 10-month stay in the Asian country. One month down the road, I was adapting to the living conditions, but there was a big challenge for me: I could not find anywhere to go to fellowship with other Christian worshipers.
I tried to consult my friends. I got pleasantly surprised when they told me that there was a church in the city.I could not believe it until I got there at the Beijing International Christian Fellowship (BICF) located at the 21st Century Hotel, 2nd Floor, Liangmaqiao Road, Chaoyang District.
Inside BICF, I felt like stepping into family once again. It was amazing, as we came together with many people from across the world united by our faith in the Almighty God, the creator of Heaven and earth, who loved us and sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins.
Amazing, isn’t it? And I guess many people may want to know more about worship in this Asian country.
Here are somethings you may need to know:
How do faith organizations operate?
Referring to the basic policies in protecting freedom of religious belief, it is stated that no one shall use Religion to interfere in the lawful rights and interests of people. Believers should protect public order, customs, cultural traditions, and social ethics in exercising their freedom of religious belief.
The state protects citizens’ right to freedom of religious belief, normal religious activities and the lawful rights and interest of religious groups, bans illegal religious activities, prohibits the dissemination of extremist thought and engagement in extremist activities in the name of religion, resists the infiltration of hostile foreign forces taking advantage of religion, and fights against illegal and criminal activities under the guise of religion.
Believers should abide by the constitution, laws, rules, and regulations of the country. Religious should be carried out within the bounds of the law. No religion should interfere in the implementation of administrative, judicial and educational functions of the state.
In an interview with The Gospel Time Rwanda, Huiling Yang described more about the operation of Religion in China.
Huiling is researcher at the International Institute of Beijing Foreign Studies University, vice editor of the international Sinology. He specializes in the field of cross-disciplinary studies on Sino-Europe Cultural History and History of Christianity in China.
Huiling said, “It’s easier to differentiate the legal religious activities and illegal activities.”
Religious laws and regulations in China measure and define legal and illegal, then the government protects the legal ones and combats the illegal ones, that’s in accord with every government in the world. The most difficult and tricky part is about the gray ones which are not yet legal, but in existence for historical circumstances.”
Prof. Yang Fenggang in Purdue University reveals his researches in colors to differentiate churches who work legally and illegally. Now the legal churches as called three-self patriotic churches in China are extending their olive branches to the gray churches and in this way to protect those semi-independent churches. It works quiet well.
How feasible is it for Africans to share their Christian beliefs?
Under the new reforms and opening up, China has been accelerating international cooperation with the idea of community with a shared future. Communities should have more in common such as culture among others.
Huiling said: “Religious belief as a personal belief, are respected and protected by law. But if Africans in China want to share it with others, or publicly propagate their belief, then such public religious activities are under the regulations by the Chinese law,
Africans in China are welcomed by the local three-self Patriotic Christian Churches, where they can meet, talk and share their belief with their Chinese Christian brothers and sisters, and all activities there are protected by the law.”
Churches are good
According to Huiling, the role of churches in supplementing the government is vital.
“Churches offer their services to the needy and suffering person, which is a good supplement to the government. Churches also take social responsibilities such as disaster relief and moral education, which are good to maintain unity of the people,” he noted.
According to 2016 CFPS Survey, Buddhism occupies 8.96 per cent while Ancestor worship occupies 5.85 per cent.
Regarding the size of the populations of China, the number of Christians is quite huge.
Protestantism occupies 2.06 per cent, Catholicism 0.46 while Islam occupies 0.50 per cent. Taoism occupies 0.45 per cent and others occupy 0.35 per cent.
Writer: Frederic BYUMVUHORE