On March 28, about 40 security guards arrived and again removed the furniture. Beginning the next morning, guards in riot gear barricaded the gate to the kindergarten, barring anyone from entering. Parents and church members gathered outside the gate singing hymns and trying to negotiate with security guards, who refused to say whether local authorities or the landlord had hired them. ChinaAid’s Bob Fu noted that a private citizen could not “dispatch anti-riot police force without the [Chinese Communist Party] government authority’s direct involvement.”
Agape house church started the school in 2013 with the goal of providing quality Christian education for the children of church members. Students who leave the Chinese public school system cannot get back in, so Christian parents took a great risk in sending their kids to the newly formed Christian school. The school attracted more than just church members: Christians from all over Beijing and even some non-Christians enrolled their children at Beatitudes, eager for an alternative to the test-focused educational method of government schools.
Beatitudes aimed to find teachers who had a teaching background and a mature Christian faith and who were willing to take a pay cut to work at the church school. Funded by tuitions and church donations, the school grew and rented a separate kindergarten space in 2016.
When I spoke to the school’s headmaster in 2015, she mentioned the school would sometimes shut down for a few days during big government meetings when the situation became more sensitive. Typically, though, the local authorities didn’t have a problem with the school, since they recognized the problems with China’s education system.
Since then, persecution has gotten worse as President Xi Jinping has tightened control over all aspects of life in China. Authorities recently closed a Catholic-run kindergarten in Henan province, claiming it did not meet government standards.
Yet Christian parents will continue to look for ways to “train up a child in the way he should go.”
“In China, atheism is taught as truth in public schools,” the Beatitudes headmaster said in 2015, echoing the concerns of many first-generation Christian parents in China. “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.”