After several clashes this past summer, Christian members of the Guantou church in Wenzhou, a city known as China’s Jerusalem, saw the Chinese government remove the cross from atop their church. Church members were told by their government that if they resisted further, the whole building would be torn down.
Activists and academics believe this is part of a renewed Communist Party crackdown on faith that began in the eastern province of Zhejiang earlier this year.
China has about 65 million Christians, split between those who worship at state-sanctioned churches and those who belong to underground churches. Rights groups frequently accuse China of not respecting freedom of religion, charges Beijing denies. Yet around 360 church buildings and crosses have been demolished already this year, according to rights watch groups – the ruined buildings speak for themselves.
The cross is a powerful and convicting tool; a symbol of hope and sacrifice for the believer, and often a symbol of derision for those who despise Christ. Yet the life of Christ is lived in and through His people, not the symbols or structures.
As their government removed the cross, church members gathered and began to sing the hymn “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross.”
Hear them raise their voices in this short video.