Chinese secret believers : Lonely but full of hope

Posted: December 16, 2013 in Articles

Most Chinese Christians enjoy growing religious freedom in their country. However, there is still a small band of believers who are forced to exercise their faith in secret. Meet Ruby*. She belongs to one of the many ethnic minorities in China. Though her family, who are believers of another faith, know that she is a Christian, she needs to hide her faith from others.

Ruby has been a secret believer for over ten years. She came to faith after foreign missionaries shared the Gospel with her on several occasions and read some books. Her ethnic group are moderate believers of another faith, but Ruby still needs to be very careful. “The other faith has a large influence on our culture and traditions. Women have a low status. We are taught to be obedient and we never dare do anything beyond the boundaries of our culture and traditions. Usually, the people in my community respond mildly when someone converts to Christianity, but my father strongly objected to my conversion. My mother did not put much pressure on me. My immediate family knows I am a Christian. However, I could never let any of our other relatives know or my parents and myself would be in trouble. Back then, I still lived in the village. If my faith became known, everyone would know within hours. There would be so much gossip. I can’t think of what my life would look like if everyone knew.”

Ruby’s fears are justified. Many secret believers in China feel as if they do not belong anywhere. They are shunned by the community and their family. Family members are afraid that local religious leaders will not help them with weddings and funerals anymore. Some Christians are literally thrown out of their community.

Fortunately for Ruby, she has one close aide – her husband. “I shared the Gospel with him. He is such a good guy and loves me very much. At first, it was hard for us. He didn’t want to follow Christ, but after a long time, he converted too! He received stronger opposition from his family than I did. One day, my brother-in-law came to our place and found a bible on the bookshelves.  He scolded us and seriously warned us not to connect with these ‘dirty things’. We persevered despite this resistance from his family.”

Ruby and her husband live in a city and both have jobs related to the government. “I cannot let any of my colleagues know that I am a Christian and neither can my husband. We would lose our jobs.”

Even though Ruby and her husband have each other for encouragement and support, they still feel lonely at times. “The good thing is that we are able to connect with some brothers and sisters.  We have two couples and several sisters meeting secretly in our small group.  Apart from that, we have almost no connection with other Christians in this city.  I know other Christians in north-western China, but we seldom meet. The local authorities monitor religious activities in this city very tightly.  We have to be very cautious when we meet.  At the very least, we should not make any noise. We would be in trouble if a neighbour reports our meeting to the police.”

Most Christians in Ruby’s ethnic group are women. “It is good that we have my husband and another brother in our small group.  They can share with each other. Otherwise my husband would feel even lonelier. After being a secret believer for over ten years, I feel I am still spiritually weak. I face a lot of personal struggles every day.  I have to grow spiritually and emotionally.  Then I can live a life worthy of Christ.”

Despite the challenges, Ruby is full of hope in Christ. She is also encouraged by prayers from around the world. “Please pray for me that I can maintain a good relationship with my family.  Please also pray for secret believers like us that we can endure loneliness and grow strong in Christ.”

* To protect her identity we have changed Ruby’s name.

 

 

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