By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
BEIJING, CHINA – All of the 33 leaders from the China Gospel Fellowship who were kidnapped in April by the Eastern Lightning cult have been released, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) of the UK. News of how this occurred is not yet available.
“Given the past treatment of Christians kidnapped by the group, it is a miracle that all have been released and are safe,” said a CSW spokesperson. “They are very thankful for the prayers of all the Christians around the world who have prayed for them. Thank you for your compassionate and committed response to this situation. We praise God that he has heard our prayers and moved so powerfully.
“We would be grateful if you could continue to uphold the members in your prayers. The ordeal was obviously very harrowing for them and they are now recovering physically, emotionally and spiritually.”
News of the shocking kidnapping in April initially came from founder of the China Gospel Fellowship (CGF), who himself was not abducted because he is no the China Gospel Fellowship, who himself was not abducted because he is no longer in active leadership within the movement.
Paul Hattaway, Director of Asia Harvest has described the Eastern Lightning as 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,” he said recently. “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.”
Hattaway said that The China Gospel Fellowship is organized at a national level with what they call the Chai Hui (missionary sending agency) level underneath.
“To qualify as a Chai Hui, a region must have at least 30,000 baptized believers, and a certain number of trained leaders and training centers,” he said. “By last year, there were 22 such Chai Hui’s throughout China in the CGF.”
He added, “The 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 identified themselves with a Bible School based in Singapore, the Haggai Institute, which has a good reputation. The CGF leader made some investigations about the school, and when he received good reports he trusted the Singaporeans from that time on.
“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.
” 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.
“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.
” 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 managed to escape.
“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.”
He then said, “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.
CSW has now asked for prayer for Chun Ki Won in China. “You may remember that he was arrested with three others for helping North Koreans reach safety,” said the CSW spokesperson. “He has been detained for five and a half months in China and his case is due to come before the Chinese courts in the next day or so. It is very much hoped that he will not be sentenced, but rather deported. We do covet your prayers for a good outcome for him and his co-defendant, Mr. Kim Qi Lyung. Mr Kim is a Chinese citizen so may face other difficulties. We praise God that the two men arrested with them, Mr. Oh and Mr Jung have already been able to reach freedom and are back in South Korea.
“We deeply appreciate your concern and your prayerful support for our brothers and sisters facing these trials. It is a great encouragement to know that we can immediately raise the prayer support that they so desperately seek.”