I’ve just heard some unsettling news from one of our new Chinese believers. She was invited to a “Christian” Chinese conference but when she arrived she was very surprised at their teaching. They used lots of military terminology, said Jesus was returning in 30 years and that we were all put on earth for the sole purpose of being his army. They were asked to sign a contract promising to lead a certain number of people to Christ this year and live in a sister house or a brother house in order to be a member of the group. They said they have over 10,000 in their group already. According to our student, “They call themselves "winner" that represent the one who "overcome" and calling Jesus to come back and get ready for fight for him.” Has anyone heard of this group?
Fortunately, God gave her amazing discernment and she did not give into the pressure. She returns from her summer internship soon so we’ll have time to debrief with her a little more. If this group really is growing among our Chinese students we may need to get more info and prepare our Chinese believers if they encounter them.
This may be related to the "Eastern Lightning" or "Almighty God" cult that seems to be growing in China. I remember some students mentioning (over 6 months ago) that they post newspapers and brochures at Chinese grocery stores in Ann Arbor (and I am sure elsewhere in the U.S. as well). This Chinese researcher said that they are growing in China and that the Chinese government is cracking down on them because they are considered to be subversive.
Here are some on-line articles about them.
First of all, kudos to you and your team for training this young believer so that she would recognize false teachings like this. As you mentioned, though, God's Spirit is who ultimately provides discernment in these situations. Praise God that she is returning to biblical fellowship--and wiser for the experience!
Sadly, this story is not new in China. Cults like this are what give all Christians there a bad reputation and why the government is leery of any sizable religious groups gathering together. Revolt is the #1 concern. The Taiping Rebellion is a good example of this. If you're up for some summer reading, Jonathan Spence's book, "God's Chinese Son," gives a full account of what happened when this Christian-based cult developed an army and revolted against the Qing Dynasty (mid-1800s). It's fascinating history, but the negative effects are still being felt today.
To keep this in perspective, though, 10,000 adherents isn't much in the grand view of China. Considering that an estimated 10-12,000 Chinese are choosing to follow Jesus every day, it's likely that groups like this will be diluted by the numbers of genuine Christ-followers around them. We can certainly pray for their salvation and their ineffectiveness in recruiting others toward their cause: "Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way" (Jude 1:22, MSG).
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