Beatitudes (Bafu) Public School, a Chinese Christian school on the outskirts of Beijing, recently became the latest victim of the communist government’s attempts to quash religion in the country.
Writing for WORLD magazine, June Cheng describes the school, which she toured in 2015, as a beautiful environment for children to learn and grow. Along with a reading spot for the children, the school was decorated with crafts they had completed. Students played on a wooden play set during their recess time and worked on a garden together for science class. They sang worship songs on Monday during chapel and learned the importance of tithing with their morning offering.
Yet a mere three years later, these children are without a school.
It all started back in January, according to Cheng, when the Chinese government began pressuring the school’s landlord to evict the Christian school.
Ignoring the 10-year lease the school had signed and the $60,000 invested in building the structure, the landlord asked them to leave numerous times. When the school requested compensation for the landlord’s desired breach of contract, they were denied.
Then, on March 25, the school was ransacked. Two-dozen men broke in and dismantled furniture, throwing it out onto the street in an attempt to evict the school. They did not succeed, as the parents and faculty cleaned the furniture and placed it back in the school where it belonged.
On March 28, 40 public security guards returned to the school and again removed the furniture. The next morning, 50 Chinese authorities took control of the school after public security guards barricaded the entrance way, blocking school administrators, teachers, parents and children from entering.
The blockade was met with resistance, resulting in two parents getting injured. One father was beaten so badly that he could not walk afterward. The pastor of Agape Church, which sponsors the school, was detained in a police car for half an hour.
In recent years, the Chinese government has made life increasingly hard for religious groups in the country, especially Christians. Just recently, Bibles were removed from the websites of the country’s most popular book retailers.
The shutdown of Bafu Public School only adds to the list of religious sanctions the country has placed. Although the government does not directly prohibit religious schools by law, they find ways to shut them down, as seen with this recent case.
Jeng writes that in 2015, the headmaster of the Beatitudes School predicted that they would face shutdown. Ever since then, Chinese President Xi Jinping has only tightened restrictions on Christian communities, and persecution has skyrocketed.
“In China, atheism is taught as truth in public schools. So only two hours of Sunday school a week isn’t enough, because from Monday to Friday, eight hours a day, the kids are under [the Chinese government’s] control,” Bafu’s headmaster said in 2015.
Despite the great risks, many Chinese Christians have boldly refused to abandon their faith. Just last year, a Chinese woman was thrown in jail for hosting a Bible study in her home.
Continue to pray for the Chinese people and others who face religious persecution around the world.