Forget Not Those In Chains…Beijing, China

2008 Olympic Opening Cermonies in Beijing, China

2008 Olympic Opening Cermonies in Beijing, China

Last Friday, August 8th, the opening ceremonies of the 39th Olympiad happened at the National Stadium in Beijing, China.  Gigantic fireworks in the shape of footprints marched through the city until the Stadium (“The Bird’s Nest”) was reached, erupting into magical bursts of fireworks and announcing the beginning of the Beijing Games.  My family gathered around the big screen TV at our friend’s house, instantly mesmerized by the thousands of dancers, martial artists, percussionists, and other performers as they beautifully told the story of China’s history.  A child sang as 56 children, representing the 56 ethnic groups of China, brought the red and gold Chinese flag forward and the beautiful ceremony began.  From the invention of paper to the astronauts China has put into space, each story was told as no story has ever been told before.

For seventeen days, China is the center of the world’s attention.  No matter how much controversy, no matter how many scandals, all eyes will be watching.  America watches its gymnasts like Jonathon Horton, Shawn Johnson and Nastia Luiken as they fight for a spot on the podium.  Softball pitcher Jennie Finch will lead her team to the last year of Olympic softball to be hosted.  Swimmer Michael Phelps, last night, won his eleventh gold medal, setting a new record and becoming possibly the greatest Olympic champion of all time.  Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers battle it out on the beach volleyball court.  Every event has a story, every athlete has walked a long road to get where they are now.  And the world is watching.

For years, China’s oppression of miniorities and religious groups and dissenters has been well-known throughout the world.  During the opening ceremonies, a vivid display of the famous Great Wall of China was depicted as being torn down and replayed by beautiful pink blossoms…the Chinese symbol of openness.  The symbology and meaning was vivid and evident: China wants to move on.  With these Olympics, the hostile nation is taking steps…opening its doors and letting the world in.  These Beijing Games, some have commentated, are as important to China as the Apollo mission to the moon was to the USA.  Everyone who watches these Olympic Games is watching history in the making.

But what of the Chinese Christians?  President Bush, in a recent interview with Bob Costas, expressed his desire that China register these underground churches, citing the fact that he attended a state-sponsored church on Sunday.  “It gave me a chance to say to the Chinese people, religion won’t hurt you, you ought to welcome religious people. And it gave me a chance to say to the Chinese government, ‘Why don’t you register the underground churches and give them a chance to flourish?'”

Thousands of our brothers and sisters in China are imprisoned and tortured…and sometimes even killed…for their faith in Jesus Christ.  Some estimate that Christians make up six percent of China’s population.  In June of 2004, a Christian woman named Jiang Zongxiu was beaten to death for her faith.  In September of that year, Pastor Cai Zhuohua was kidnapped and imprisoned, where he was tortured with an electric cattle prod.  His wife was kidnapped just days later.  The Chinese government takes a strong stance against these undeground churches and their patrons, calling them “evil cults” and showing them little mercy and no tolerance.  Often, religious dissenters are “re-educated through labor”, keeping hundreds of thousands of the Chinese in work camps throughout the nation.  The only churches allowed are those which register with the government, and which are strictly monitored and forced to follow policies on religious belief and practice.

While our athletes fight for Olympic gold, how many men, women, and children fill the prisons of the host country, their only crime being a firm and unwavering faith in the God of the Bible and in the saving grace of His Son Jesus Christ?

Pray for this nation and for our persecuted brothers and sisters there.  As the Chinese government strives to open doors, ask God to open hearts to the truth and power of His Word…a power that comes not through torture and forced allegiance, but through the gentle love and divine healing of an infinitely kind God.  Ask that our nation, with its history of religious freedom, and others like it will have a positive impact on this country.  As hundreds of athletes compete for these seventeen days of the Olympic Games of 2008, working for gold which perishes, ask that God will show them the true and living gold of faith in Him…and that they will store up for themselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and thieves cannot break in and steal.

The treasure that so many of the Chinese faithful have died in hope of seeing, choosing momentary pain rather then the eternal sacrilege of denying their beloved Savior.


Click here and here for some beautiful shots of the opening ceremonies at the National Stadium (Bird’s Nest) in Beijing, and here for a detailed report from Voice of the Martyrs on Christian persecution in China.


One Response

  1. […] as this telecast and this report. See full coverage here. Another good piece on the Olympics is here.Update: Another great post on the subject is here at one of Natalie’s favorie blogs: […]

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