Much talk exists about the size of China's Christian population, predictions even exist that its currently the largest in the world (though Pat Robertson is still hoping for more). The media typically ignores the issue unless some priest has been arrested or a crackdown is on, in which case China is viewed as an evil oppressor of religion and is beat down with Soviet-evil empire era rhetoric among the religious community in the US.
The reality of Christianity in China is far different from the picture you get in US/Western media. That many Chinese Christians choose house churches over official institutions often has little to do with a decision to stick it to the government as it does location. Even in large cities in China, its far from the US Bible Belt, churches are few and far between and so choosing between a long bus ride (or two) and something down the block often chooses itself. House churches, in most cases, are far from the clandestine ideas that people have about them, they are usually very open and often take place in offices or other buildings instead of just a person's home.
With that in mind, I want to share with you some pictures taken at a recent event at Sea World in Shenzhen. Sea World is an extremely popular destination in the city where there are a number of bars and other popular establishments. On Christmas Eve, a friend's church was granted permission by the government and local police to hold a Christmas choir concert at that location, which was very well received and attended, with minimal incident. This is not a church with close ties to the government or anything like that and its members come from a range of different churches, including both house churches and state-endorsed churches. There is nothing special about this church, just that they tried and were granted a permit for this gathering which turned into a great success. God's word is spreading throughout China and it isn't being done by crazy missionaries (though the large number of beautiful girls in the choir helps).
Pictures courtesy of Princess Dudu and are not to be copied, anyone interested in using them should contact me.
PS: Okay, to lighten things up a bit, I just had to share this picture. It shows perfectly a mirror of the battle in the west between secular and religious. In the front, strong Christians who came out to sing songs to and about God/Jesus on Christmas, in the back a huge, jolly Santa with a gigantic beer mug.