Christian persecution continues to rise in China
Christian persecution continues to rise in China, according to the China Aid's 2013 Persecution Report.
Looking specifically at government persecution of Christians, persecution in China rose by 38.82% between 2012 and 2013.
The level of persecution was based on the number of persecution cases reported, the number of people persecuted, the number of people detained, the number of people sentenced, the number of abuse cases and the number of people abused.
The most dramatic jump is in the number of people persecuted, which rose from 4,919 in 2012 to 7,424 in 2013, an increase of 50.9%.
The only category which saw a drop was the number of abuse cases, which fell 42.9% since 2012.
Persecution in this context ranges from having house churches being ordered to join the state sanctioned Three-Self-Church or being banned from renting space for worship, all the way to having meetings raided, with attendees arrested, beaten, and in some cases imprisoned.
Examples of persecution include a raid on a service involving thousands of members of house churches in Dongying and Linzi in August last year.
The China Aid report also cited evidence of government plans to continue "regulating" house churches.
The evidence was in the form of an excerpt from an official government document entitled "Focus of Work of State Administration for Religious Affairs in 2014", and stated the government's aim to "summarise the practice and experience of regulating the privately set-up Christian meeting places in some regions and explore effective methods of regulating".
"Also, to attach importance to the job of uniting and liaising with minority religious groups and resolve conflicts and disputes," it added.
Despite continuing restrictions, the churches remain optimistic.
"House churches in China had a difficult year in 2013, but we won't lose heart," said Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid.
"Oppositely, only in such circumstances can churches be constantly purified, free of blemishes, mature and strong, and prepared for even greater mission.
"When political regimes and figures, one by one, sink into the long river of history, Jesus Christ's church stands tall and firm, and like it was 2,000 years ago, even the power of hell cannot triumph over it."