China’s New Crackdown on Christians

By Jillian Kay Melchior in a Commentary published by the Wall Street Journal

Nearly seven years after Warren Bird visited the biggest Protestant church in China, he’s still deeply moved as he recalls its pastor, “Joseph” Gu Yuese, preaching that morning from Psalms.

“His sermon was on how God understands our cares,” says Mr. Bird, an American researcher and expert on global megachurches. “He got very emotional—not in the sense of high emotion carried by his voice tone, but emotional in the sense of affirming, from the Psalms, that God cares about our hearts, and God feels our pain, and God relates to us. It was like, wow.”

Mr. Gu’s sermon in Chongyi Church on that Sunday morning in August 2009 now feels eerie—and prescient. Psalms is a book about finding comfort from God amid hardship and persecution, and this week Mr. Gu disappeared into the hands of the Chinese government. He is reportedly imprisoned in a secretive “black jail,” notorious for deplorable conditions and even torture. Not since the Cultural Revolution has the Chinese government gone after such a high-ranking church leader.

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