Further News from China
A willing and capable leader was found in Mr. Y. T. Wu, a Communist sympathiser and former secretary of the Chinese Y.M.C.A. Though professing Christianity and prominent in certain church circles, Mr. Wu and his friends had long held and propagated advanced modernistic views, denying almost all fundamental truth concerning the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. These men from the very first advocated the allegiance of Christians to the Communist Party, declaring that without this Party’s support the cleansing of the Church from the “destructive poisons of imperialist and anti-socialist thinking,” could not be effected.
The stages by which the Communists have secured a stranglehold on the Christian Church in China can now be perceived by all who have closely followed the sequence of events. The stages are four, and have been pursued with all the subtlety and thoroughness so characteristic of all Communist action.
The FIRST STAGE began with the publication in the year 1950 of a Manifesto drawn up by members of the Red Government with the cooperation of a group of Church leaders sponsored by Mr. Wu. This document commited the Church to a purging of itself from what they termed “imperialism”, meaning foreign missionary enterprise, and called upon all Church members to render their highest loyalty not to God and His Church but to the State, and to give unquestioning obedience to Party dictates.
Following publication of this Manifesto, pressure was brought to bear upon all the churches to achieve immediate self-support and self-government. A few prominent evangelicals were deceived by the specious promises of the authorities, and joined the movement looking towards a united Church. Their names were widely published for their propaganda value in overcoming resistance in evangelical groups. Later, when protests were made against innovations of which they disapproved, these men were promptly dismissed and their places taken by nominees of the Three Self Committee. The proclaimed objective was the expulsion of all the foreign missionaries and the seizure of all mission property which was to be handed over to the Three Self Organisation. Before eventual expulsion, many missionaries were arrested and imprisoned on false charges of plotting against the regime. They suffered the diabolical “brain-washing” treatment, concerning which much has been written. The last three brethren from home assemblies to be so maltreated before eventual release were Mr. John McGehee of U.S.A., from Britain, Mr. Arnold J. Clarke (son of the present writer) now serving the Lord in Western Thailand, and Mr. Geoffrey Bull, who has recently gone out to British North Borneo. The first stage was virtually completed by the end of 1951, although the release of several imprisoned missionaries did not take place until much later.
The SECOND STAGE was characterised by an intensive inquiry into church memberships to discover opponents of the new order and to intimidate them into acquiescence. “Accusation Meetings” were enforced and at these many ministers were accused of “pro-imperialist” sympathies. Such were publically denounced, which usually meant immediate dismissal from their churches and not infrequently imprisonment or banishment to a labour camp. Several well-known preachers were victims of this persecution. Some were even condemned for holding services in private homes in an endeavour to maintain a healthy Christian testimony. Others suffered because they preached the Second Coming of Christ! “Self-accusation classes” were also compulsory at which many exposed themselves to severe “brain-washing” treatment.
The apparent object of all this was the suppression of “free lance” evangelism and underground activities by Christians. It was during this period (1951 to 1956) that a number of leading evangelicals took a strong stand in countering the Three Self Committee’s propaganda that had been directed against foreign missionary enterprise. They showed that this had been misrepresented in every possible way and that what was denounced as “imperialist poison” was in fact the foundational truth of the Christian faith. Soon these courageous brethren, too, were called upon to suffer the penalties inflicted upon all who dared to oppose the Committee.