Every week I hear more stories of people we know having run-ins with the Eastern Lightning/Church of Almighty God cult (东方闪电 / 全能父教会). My growing impression is that our city is just crawling with them. This past Saturday a friend (who’s unconnected to the one I mentioned last post), showed me this literature she was given earlier that day:
She’d attended what she thought was a Bible study group. She didn’t notice anything amiss until the end, when they mentioned that not only has Jesus come back but she’s living in Henan province. Even then she didn’t realize what she’d stumbled into; she hadn’t heard of this particular group despite the fact that the gov’t’s Dec. 2012 crackdown made international headlines.
Just of the top of my head I can think of four unrelated circles we’re connected to in which people have mentioned running into cult — just within the last three weeks.
People who keep tabs on Christianity in China have been aware of this group since the early 90’s because they specifically (and sometimes violently) target Christians and churches. Here’s links I found helpful/interesting — some crazy stuff in here, especially the first-hand accounts:
- Eastern Lightning and the End of the World
- “Eastern Lightning Destroyed My Family” (Original: 东方闪电拆散了我的家, also here)
- Church of Almighty God (their official English website)
- Eastern Lightning may be a cult, but they still have rights
- Experiencing the Eastern Lightning Cult (Detailed first-hand and second accounts, historical overview and analysis. Much more here.)
- Deceived by the Lightning
- China’s “Almighty God” Rises with Threat of Apocalypse
- Jesus Is Back, and She’s Chinese
It’s important to understand this cult within the Chinese rural house church/indigenous modern religious context from which it mutated. I found this in-depth review of a recent scholarly work on China’s modern, Christianity-influenced homegrown religious context helpful: