Friday, August 15, 2008

Canada's first Olympic medal + Praying in secret by David Gutnick

Hurray, Canada's Carol Huynh will be in a gold medal match for wrestling in approximately 5 hours from now!

EDIT/UPDATE: 1:35 AM PST, Dave Calder and Scott Frandsen just won Canada's first medal, a silver in rowing, right before Carol's match. Hurray Canada!
1:57 AM PST, Carol just won gold! blogging... I'm a geek. No one is even reading this now... Anyways off to bed!

And now, a super cool post by CBC reporter David Gutnick, originally from here, but who knows if it will be removed after the Olympics which is why I'm re-posting it here. He writes good, insightful stuff.
"Praying in secret" - Posted by David Gutnick Aug 15, 08 03:34 PM

It is 7:30 in the evening and I am participating in an illegal activity here in China. I am sitting in a living room with nine people praying.

In this apartment, the Bibles and hymn books are kept under lock and key. These Christians have been under police surveillance since the Olympics began. They risk being thrown in jail every time they gather.

I found this House Church by asking someone who knew someone who knew someone else. The Chinese fellow who was helping out used my cellphone so that he could not be traced. At first the pastor did not want to meet me.

House churches are an extremely sensitive subject in China these days. Last week, President Bush took the Chinese government to task over the lack of religious freedom here. The government told him to mind his own business and accused him of trying to politicize the Olympics.

Hymn books are illegal

That answer upset the Pastor; he changed his mind and decided to let me attend the House Church service that he runs on Wednesday evenings.

We meet on the sidewalk in front of a 40-storey apartment block. Four men and four women - all in their 30s and 40s - are waiting. Because of the risks they face if identified, I agreed not to mention any names. The Bibles and hymn books are taken out of the locked cabinet. Even the hymn books are illegal because they are not government authorized.

A smiling intense woman told me that she had become a Christian eight years ago after her American English teacher gave her a Bible. “I read it for six months and I found Christ,” she says. “And then I began inviting my neighbours over to talk. More and more people began coming over and within a year 40 people were meeting in my two-room home.”

She says that the police began hassling her landlord, telling him that he could be fined because allowing Christians to meet outside of official government-sponsored churches is illegal. She was kicked out. She and her husband have had to move six times.How they live as Christians
In between singing hymns, and praying and a sermon from the pastor, the eight other house church members tell how they live their lives as Christians. There is laughter when a woman says that she feels guilty because she has been watching gymnastics on TV rather than studying the Bible.

Here in Beijing, the Olympics have been an overwhelming presence for years. And the heightened security for the Games that the government proudly talks about doesn't just mean the dozens of thousands soldiers and police you see in the streets.

It is much more insidious.

The Christians who invited me to share in their service have seen it at work. It's been tough. A couple of members of this group have spent time in jail. They are regularly followed. They all have stories that make me cringe. But somehow they all tell me they remain optimistic: They say that it is easier to be an underground Christian now than it was a few years ago.
The pastor has prepared a Bible reading that he thought would be relevant given that the police have been clamping down on house churches recently. A couple of members stayed away from this service because authorities warned them not to come.

The Bible is alive for us

Clearly the government did not want to show this part of Chinese society to the world. The reading was from the Book of Acts, and it was about persecution. The discussion that follows is both energetic, political and sad.

“The Bible is alive for us,” says one of the members, a writer who once met President Bush in the Oval Office. He pleaded with the president to pressure China to allow Christians the right to pray together. The president would not make any promises.

It’s 10. We are tired and, full of tea. We leave the building a few at a time, pretending that we didn't know each other. We didn't wave goodbye. A woman and her writer husband show me the way. I ask if they are worried about the police picking them up on the way home.

No, they say. We don’t worry. We know they are waiting. They even offered to drive us here this evening. We call it our free Olympic taxi.

They go left.

And I head off to my bed behind the wire fence in Northstar Olympic Media Village.


Johnson said...


irene said...

whoa a reporter wrote this from cbc? cool!