Israel has a special group of visitors from China this week. More than 1,000 Chinese and “Back to Jerusalem” team arrived in Israel on 27 September to celebrate Sukkot, and to pray for the Jews and the peace of Jerusalem.
Back to Jerusalem (B2J) is a movement of the persecuted Chinese underground house churches. Birthed in the 1920s, it was a vision of Chinese missionaries to spread the Gospel from the Great Wall of China through the landlocked Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim lands until it reached the Western Wall of Jerusalem — where Christianity was first born.
Currently the largest Christian movement in the world, with some estimated 130 million that overshadow the official 85 million atheistic communist members, this movement is marching west.
Eugene Bach, B2J leader and author of the new book ISIS: The Heart of Terror, said “they have come from all walks of life [and] this is the most exciting generation ever recorded in the history of Asia…God is raising them up.”
Indeed, in face of Western indifference and even complicity of the genocide of Mideast Christians by backing Salafist jihadists, it does appear the Chinese underground church is being raised up — for such a time as this.
Extinguishing of Syrian and Iraqi Christians
In the Book of Proverbs it is written, “Deliver those who are drawn towards death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.” (Proverbs 24:11). However, it seems the West is taking Syrians and Iraqis and delivering them towards, not from, death and slaughter.
Many now fear Christianity in the Middle East is facing extinction as the scourge of ISIS and western backed Salafist jihadists advances in the region. In Iraq, they savagely persecuted ancient Christian communities, including Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syrian Orthodox.
In a reminder of Nazi savagery against Jews, Christian homes were marked with the Arabic letter ن for Nazarenes — Christ followers, and inhabitants were targets for abuse or murder.
In Syria, pre-conflict Christians represented 10% of the 23 million population with most residing in towns in western Syria.
This is the same area currently under Assad’s control. In towns where government forces lost control, Christians have been brutally tortured, crucified, massacred by western-backed “moderate rebels”.
If he falls, the remaining Christians would be massacred by Islamic extremists, whether ISIS or al Nusra-led Army of Conquest.
In fact they’ve already desecrated and destroyed centuries’ old Christian towns in a campaign of ethnic and religious cleansing.
For example in Homs, the pre-conflict population was more than 1 million people of mostly Sunni Muslims with substantial Christian and Alawite communities. Peter Crowley, senior foreign affairs correspondent at Politico, in August tweeted an extract from a 2008 Lonely Planet travel guide of Homs.
“These days, its Christian neighbourhood is one of Syria’s most welcoming and relaxed, and Homs’ citizens are some of the country’s friendliest…That, combined with the city’s myriad leafy parks and gardens, sprawling al fresco coffee shop, outdoor corn-on-the-cob stands and restored souq where artisans still work, make Homs a wonderful place to kick back for a couple of days.”
In seven years, Homs has changed from a “wonderful place” to a ruinous heap. And Al Nusra continues its cleansing of other religious and ethnic minorities of Druze, Christians, Alawites and Kurds. While most do not support Assad, they fear Islamic extremists would exterminate them if he falls.
Lebanon’s labor minister Sejean Azzi, a prominent Lebanese Christian politician long opposed to Assad sums this up. He warned, “We refuse the choice between ISIS and Nusra. We want to choose between democracy and dictatorship, not between terrorism and terrorism. If the Syrians have to choose between ISIS, Nusra or Assad, they will choose Assad.”
However, the situation is bleak as Assad’s regime is struggling to survive. Without protection from the struggling government against the various terrorist groups, the Syrian Christians are losing hope. Moreover, many missionaries have fled the violence long ago, leaving local converts and church leaders.
But one group remains. Chinese B2J missionaries are on the ground in Syria feeding the hungry and ministering to the suffering. Even as conditions worsen and gets more desperate, B2J missionaries remain faithful and steadfast.
When asked whether they were fearful of facing persecution themselves and perhaps martyred for their efforts in this region, they responded no. The Chinese Christians answered that they had been trained to deal with persecution within Communist China for several decades, and are well prepared to carry out their missions especially in autocratic and Muslim countries.
Putting their own desires for comfort and safety aside and risking their lives daily, these B2J Christians intend on staying for the long haul to demonstrate Christ’s love to those lost in darkness and despair, “to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” (Isaiah 61:1).
And despite the Syrians feeling abandoned by other “Christian nations” such as America and Britain, it seems a light is kindling in the east and spreading across the Silk Road, with the Chinese missionaries shining a light into the heart of darkness, on its way back to Jerusalem.