34 Chinese ministers released from cult kidnapping, e-mail announces
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--Thirty-four Chinese church leaders who were kidnapped April 16 have been released and are safe, according to an e-mail from Asia Harvest, an interdenominational ministry based in Thailand.
The kidnapping was "a horrible terrorist event ... deliberately planned by the top leaders of the Eastern Lightning cult, and was entirely without precedent in the history of the Chinese Church," reported the China For Jesus website, sponsored by the China Gospel Fellowship.
The house church leaders were captured by the Eastern Lightning cult, which believes that Jesus has already returned as a 30-year-old woman who lives in China's Henan Province. The kidnappings were carefully planned by the cult for more than a year, said Asia Harvest director Paul Hattaway.
Eastern Lightning members pretending to be fellow believers lured the house church leaders to a phony leadership conference. From there, the leaders were taken by force to separate locations.
This cult has been targeting house church Christians for 10 years with "twisted doctrine" using brutal tactics, Hattaway said. "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 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."
The Eastern Lightning cult's "practices are contemptible and sinister, knowing no moral restraint," according to the CGF article. "They maintain control over their followers by means of drugs and eroticism. They demand absolute submission."
It will take several months for the kidnapped Christians to recover from their harrowing ordeal, CGF said. "Please continue to pray for them, and thank God for His wonderful protection. Judging from past experiences of Christians who have fallen into the hands of the Eastern Lightning cult, the fact that all 34 leaders are safe is nothing short of a great miracle."
The kidnappings shook house church believers across China, who prayed and fasted for the return of the leaders, waging what Hattaway called "spiritual warfare at its highest level."
"The leaders have expressed their gratitude for the countless thousands of Christians around the world who lifted them up in prayer before the Heavenly Father," he wrote.
"Let's pray for these leaders who have endured much for the cause of Christ," said Randy Sprinkle, director of the International Mission Board's prayer strategy office. "Ask the Lord to heal and help them as they recover, and pray that those who persecuted them will come under conviction of the Holy Spirit because of the faithful testimonies, both in word and life, of these Christian leaders.
"China has more lost people than any other nation on earth," Sprinkle said. "Ask God to cause this terrible experience to work out for the enhanced spread of the gospel across China."