For Eastern Lightning cult information in CHINESE, go to the www.chinaforjesus.com website.
Update #1 - April 24, 2002 (revised May 1, 2002)
With a heavy heart we have news from China to share with you. We earnestly ask for your prayers and action to help our brothers and sisters in China.
On the evening of April 19th, in the cities of Wuhan, Shanghai, Hefei, Nanjing, Qingdao and in various places throughout Henan Province, members of the Eastern Lightning satanic cult kidnapped 35 top leaders of the China Gospel Fellowship. Two have managed to escape, but the rest have not been heard of since. The victims include the movement's top leaders. One of the leaders is partially crippled after a childhood accident and uses crutches to get around. Several years ago the police used his own crutches to beat him during an interrogation!
The China Gospel Fellowship (CGF) started in Tanghe County, Henan Province, but spread rapidly until they now have churches in every part of China. Their movement contains several million believers. They also have a strong emphasis on work among China's unreached minority groups. Because of their highly organized structure and their uncompromising zeal for the spread of the Gospel, the CGF has been severely persecuted by the Chinese authorities. Even before the present incident dozens of their leaders were languishing in prison.
In the late-1990s the Director of the Bureau of Religious Affairs, Ye Xiaowen (who is an avowed atheist!), condemned the China Gospel Fellowship as an 'evil cult'. This decision was based on the fact that they refuse to submit to the control of the government, rather than any cultic beliefs or practices. In fact, the CGF are one of the strongest fundamental conservative, evangelical Bible-based house church networks in all of China.
This kidnapping comes soon after the government's campaign against the South China Church a few months ago. Two hundred leaders of the South China Church remain in prison. Coworkers who hired a team of lawyers to defend the Christians tell us the conditions in prison are inhumane. Some of the believers they met with were half-dead, having been subjected to severe torture and abuse for weeks. Some were close to losing their minds, others had their wrist and ankle bones exposed from the deep cuts of their handcuffs and foot chains.
Please pray. This is probably the best thing you can do to help these brothers and sisters right now. The Bible commands us to "Remember those in prison (held captive) as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves are suffering." (Hebrews 13:3).
Let's never underestimate the power of prayer. God Almighty hears our prayers and will answer your cries to Him. Remember these are dear Christians who love Jesus deeply.
1. Pray God would be glorified and His Kingdom continue to grow in China as a result of these attacks.
2. Ask God to intervene with His mighty power. Pray only His will would be done in the lives of those kidnapped.
3. Pray against the Satanic forces behind these brutal attacks. Not able to damage God, the devil does all he can to smash God's children. Ask God to bind the demonic forces in Jesus' Name.
4. Ask the Lord to strengthen our brothers and sisters being held, to sustain them, and to help them overcome whatever trials they face.
5. Pray for mercy for the persecutors, that they may be convicted of sin, righteousness and judgment and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Pray the believers may show them a Christ-like example of patient endurance in the face of suffering.
"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you." (Romans 16:20)
Update #2 - May 1, 2002
Last week we sent out an urgent prayer request with breaking news told to us by reliable contacts inside China that over 100 house church Christians had been arrested by the police in six different locations.
Since then (as you may have already heard), more information has come to light, and the news is worse than originally thought! Compared to what has happened, it would have been a blessing for the missing brothers and sisters to have been in the hands of the police!
Thirty three of the top leaders of the China Gospel Fellowship are now confirmed kidnapped by members of the Eastern Lightning Cult. Thirty five were originally captured, but two managed to escape. This information comes directly from the elderly founder of the China Gospel Fellowship, who himself was not abducted because he is no longer in active leadership within the movement.
The Eastern Lightning is a Satanic cult that believes Jesus has already returned, as a 30-year-old woman living in China's Henan Province! They specifically target house church Christians with twisted doctrine. If believers refuse to accept their teaching they often revert to kidnapping, beatings, torture, drugging, sexual entrapment, and intense brainwashing. There is credible evidence that dozens of Christians have been murdered by the Eastern Lightning over the years. Most are poisoned, making it difficult for the authorities to prove they were murdered. Many more house church Christians have simply vanished, not known if they converted to the cult or were killed.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, ANOTHER INCIDENT!
In our experience, and in the experience of all our contacts and coworkers inside China, this has been the most confusing week anyone has had to deal with. Even the number of believers affected is difficult to ascertain. When we first broke the news, we were told at least 100 house church Christians had been arrested. It is now confirmed that 63 more Christians, connected to a small Pentecostal house church network (led by brother Wang Desheng), were arrested on the same day that the China Gospel Fellowship leaders were kidnapped. The arrests occurred in Jiazhu, north of Zhengzhou City in Henan Province, yet it now seems unlikely this incident is connected to the China Gospel Fellowship situation. Thirty of those arrested in Henan have already been released, after paying fines of between 500 to 2,000 RMB (US$ 60 to $ 240), but 33 whom the police suspect of being leaders, remain in custody. Please pray for the 33 under arrest, in addition to the 33 China Gospel Fellowship leaders who are still kidnapped!
Regarding the kidnapping of the China Gospel Fellowship leaders, here is what is known and has been confirmed from inside China. This information comes from a variety of sources, including Brother Mak of the Chinese City Gospel Mission:
1. This kidnapping was carefully pre-planned by the Eastern Lightning cult. About a year ago, a lady introduced some Singaporeans to one of the major leaders of the China Gospel Fellowship, starting the relationship. The Singaporeans falsely identified themselves with a Bible School based in Singapore, the Haggai Institute, which has a good reputation. Note; this was a false claim. The Singaporeans only pretended to be associated with the Haggai Institute. The CGF leader made some investigations about the school, and when he received good reports he trusted the Singaporeans from that time on. (1)
2. A short time ago the CGF was informed that some famous professors from the Singapore school were coming to China to give them leadership training. Because the CGF leaders are being hunted by the government, for security reasons it was decided to split their leaders into six different groups, to go to six different locations for training. The Singaporeans promised to cover all travel and accommodation expenses, and to conduct their training in a safe environment.
3. On April 19th each group of house church leaders went to the meetings. It is known that at one location, the organizers greeted the church leaders and immediately requested they hand over their mobile phones for safe keeping (thus removing their ability to communicate outside of the room). When some of the brothers refused to cooperate, the Eastern Lightning beat them to get their phones. This was the first the believers knew they were in trouble.
4. One sister, after realizing the Eastern Lightning was behind the whole thing, asked to go outside to use the toilet, and she managed to escape. Praise God for this! If she had not escaped nobody would have any idea what had happened to these house church leaders. They would have simply vanished without a trace, which was the intention of the cult. When they discovered the sister had escaped, the Eastern Lightning went to her home. Not finding her there, they beat up her parents before leaving. According to Bob Fu, Executive Director of the Committee for Investigation on Persecution of Religion in China, this sister reported the leaders were already being severely tortured by the time she escaped.
5. The escaped sister went to the police and told them what happened. Together they rushed back to the meeting place, but by the time they arrived the room was deserted, with no trace of where the house church leaders had been taken. It is clear, however, that the Eastern Lightning in the past always separate Christians and spread them in different locations to be brainwashed and beaten individually. By now, it is likely the 33 Christians are scattered in 33 different places. Two have managed to escape.
6. Yesterday we received an unconfirmed report from a Chinese church leader that one of kidnapped pastors was very vocal in witnessing to his captors, and wouldn't stop praying loudly to the Lord. Despite threats, he wouldn't stop, so the Eastern Lightning cut his tongue out.
7. From a different location we received a confirmed report that after being kidnapped, men dressed in police uniforms came and took the believers away to different places. Should this be found to be true, it could either show local officials worked together with the Eastern Lightning to stage this incident (a suspicion that many house church leaders have shared with us in the past, see the attached file), or else the Eastern Lightning may have impersonated being police officers as part of their act.
8. This kidnapping has shaken all house church believers across China. They have been fighting with infiltration from the Eastern Lightning for more than 10 years, but never before has there been such a coordinated attack launched against house church leadership. Thousands of believers inside China are fasting and praying around the clock for God's intervention. They invite their Western and Asian brothers and sisters to join them.
9. Even though most of the kidnapped believers were themselves being hunted by the government for leading unregistered churches, it has been decided by some remaining house church leaders that they must take the risk of getting government involvement in this case. One of the two China Gospel Fellowship leaders who escaped from the kidnapping traveled to Beijing on Sunday April 28th where he hired a lawyer to represent them to the Communist authorities. The government indicated they are willing to cooperate, and that they are willing to partner with the house churches to crush the Eastern Lightning, who they claim they've been trying to destroy for years with little success.
10. Please pray the Blood of Jesus will cover this plan, and that the house church leaders are truly being led by Godly wisdom. Many Christians may question the wisdom of aligning with an atheistic government in a bid to help the Church, especially seeing the China Gospel Fellowship and many of the other house church networks in China are already on the very same "evil cult" list as the Eastern Lightning! After researching this cult, I'm convinced that even though the central government in Beijing wants to smash the Eastern Lightning, there is strong evidence that many local government officials around the country (who are the organs Beijing must use to do their work locally), have either converted to or been bought off by the Eastern Lightning. The corrupted local officials use their influence to protect the cult. For example, when an order comes from Beijing for action against the Eastern Lightning, it goes first to local officials. Those who are under the cult's influence inform the Eastern Lightning to relocate, thus making the plans of the central government almost impossible to fulfill. This suspicion of local government complicity with the cult is confirmed by an official government document, which notes that the Eastern Lightning has been able to "infiltrate into the inner circles of the [Communist] Party, the government, and the Three Self Patriotic Movement." (2)
11. House church Christians in China are among the strongest and most effective in the world. Church leaders throughout the country believe they have entered spiritual warfare at its highest level. This action by the Eastern Lightning has roused them not only to pray for the release of these 33 leaders, but to mount a revolution to completely destroy the Eastern Lightning once and for all. They see this as a spiritual fight and are determined to win at all costs. One pastor has said, "The worst thing that can happen is the government will arrest us and send us back to prison, where we can still preach the Gospel, but this cult needs to be destroyed regardless of the risk of more government persecution against us." Unprecedented levels of prayer and communication are taking place between believers from different groups. Praise God! This is one sign of good to have already come out of this incident.
Since news of the kidnapping started circulating around the world, many people have written to me, asking me to shed some light on the Eastern Lightning cult. Most Christians around the world have never heard of them, while even many missionaries and Christians working inside China have little clue about what they believe and why they pose the Church so strongly.
In response, I have spent the last few days compiling a report on the Eastern Lightning, which I've entitled "When China's Christians Wish They Were in Prison." The text of the article appears above. Even though it is a little long (about 13 pages), we hope you will find the time to read through it. If you don't have the time, please at least read the section "The Testimony of a House Church Sister," which aptly describes the practices of the cult and the tremendous trials our Chinese brothers and sisters are enduring.
On our website there are also details of how you can practically help this situation.
God bless you, and may the Lord protect His flock in China!Notes
1. Leaders of the Haggai Institute confirm they have nothing to do with this situation. In fact, the Haggai Institute works in China only with the Three-Self Church, and do not train house church leaders at all. The Singaporeans used the name of the Haggai Institute only because of its fine reputation.
2. Li Shixiong & Xiqiu (Bob) Fu (eds), Religion and National Security in China: Secret Documents from China's Security Sector, February 11, 2002, p.78
Update #3 - June 5, 2002
Thanks for your prayers. Many people are asking for an update on this situation. The China Gospel Fellowship leaders will be releasing a statement about this incident which we will then post on this website as soon as it is available. In the meantime, they have asked us and other Christian organizations to refrain from sharing the latest news about this situation out of concern for the safety of those still kidnapped. Please continue to pray.
Update #4 - June 18, 2002
In early May we sent out an urgent prayer request about 34 leaders of the China Gospel Fellowship in China who had been kidnapped by the Eastern Lightning cult in April.
Since then many people have responded saying they are praying fervently, and asking for updates. However, on May XX the remaining leaders of the China Gospel Fellowship themselves asked all Christian organizations to refrain from making further comment, as they feared more publicity would place those leaders still kidnapped at greater risk.
Now, the China Gospel Fellowship have decided to place their own updates on a website. Part of the reason for them launching a website is that they have been disturbed at the large number of false reports and rumors that have been spread about this situation. We feel this is therefore the best way for you to get the latest news about what happened, and what is still happening. Please go to http://www.chinaforjesus.com/
In summary, the good news is that 29 of the 34 have now been released are being restored physically, emotionally and spiritually. Five remain missing, and as the China Gospel Fellowship say, "We don't know where they are, whether they are dead or alive, or how much longer we will have to wait before they are all released."
Their website is in both Chinese and English, but so far only two of the articles have been translated into English. Please check back there regularly for updates, and please continue to pray!
Update #5 - June 20, 2002
We have good news from the China Gospel Fellowship in China. It is now confirmed that all 34 of the church leaders who were kidnapped in April have now been released and are safe. They have all been a harrowing ordeal and will take some months to recover. Please continue to pray for them, and thank God for His wonderful protection. Judging from past experiences of Christians who have fallen into the hands of the Eastern Lightning cult, the fact that all 34 leaders are safe is nothing short of a great miracle. The leaders have expressed their gratitude for the countless thousands of Christians around the world who lifted them up in prayer before the Heavenly Father.
Update #6 - June 25, 2002 - Official Statement from CGF
"Good news! Concerning the kidnap of 34 China Gospel Fellowship coworkers by the Eastern Lightning Cult on April 16, we want to express our thankfulness to God here, that with His sustaining, with many overseas brothers and sisters' fervent prayers and intercessions in tears before God, and also with the interference of the police, all of the kidnapped coworkers have been gradually released. However, a few of them are not doing well physically because of the drugs given to them. Please pray for them.
All returned coworkers know deeply that they have been through a spiritual battle. Although they were tempted, enticed and threatened in every way, they have been able to hold fast to their faith in the Lord, to overcome the temptations and enticements by faith, and to refuse the heresies of the female Christ. Consequently, the EL conspiracy to undermine and destroy the church has ended in utter failure.
In spite of such an attack on us, the church as a whole has not suffered any loss, with God's sustaining and the work of all coworkers. Our various ministries have maintained their proper courses. Please keep on praying for us. For more detailed reports concerning the April 16 event, please continue to watch this web site www.chinaforjesus.com.
We hereby extend our deeply cherished appreciation to all fellow believers who are concerned for us in and out of China on behalf of all of our coworkers and the families of the kidnapped. We ascribe all glory to our triune and true God. Amen!"
China Gospel Fellowship