CHINA: Three Megachurches Carry on Despite Weekend Government Crackdown
Three of China’s most prominent unregistered churches which are no strangers to government raids—Zion Church and Shouwang Church in Beijing and Early Rain Church in Chengdu—endured another crackdown by authorities in separate events during the days of August 11-14.
According to Voice of the Martyrs Korea, Zion Church’s Mentougou district branch was raided during its regular Sunday worship services on August 14 by ten officials from the Mentougou District Culture and Tourism Bureau, community management office, and police station. The officials confiscated two computers and detained Pastor Yang Jun, who had been ordained last week, along with eight other church members and two children. Some of those who were detained were taken to the Memtougou District Culture while others were held at the Yongding Police Station.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea also reported that the August 14 worship service of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu were raided by some 20 to 30 uniformed and plain clothes police officers. An estimated 50 to 60 church members were gathered at a tea house in Chengdu’s Wuhou District when police entered, locked the tea house door, and reportedly announced that Early Rain Church had been shut down and that attendees were required to register their IDs before being permitted to leave. One church member, Xing Hongwei, who writes under the pseudonym “A Xin”, was arrested and charged with “assaulting a police officer” for his refusal to cooperate with the officers who were present.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea reports that earlier that weekend, Shouwang Church Elder You Guanhui was forbidden from leaving his house early Thursday morning August 11 by local authorities in Beijing. Another member of the church, Sister Xiaojuan, was summoned to the police station that day for questioning, while two other church members, HaoZhi and Yansong, were taken into temporary custody at the Haidian Branch Law Enforcement Center. All three members were released the same day.
According to Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, the three churches are accustomed to the frequent raids and detentions.
Police raid the Sunday worship services of Early Rain Covenant Church at a tea house in Chengdu’s Wuhou District on August 14.
“It’s important to emphasize that these churches are under a high level of constant attack by authorities, but it’s even more important to emphasize that these churches have faithfully endured every attack and have remained steadfast in their witness to Christ,” says Representative Foley. “All three churches are praying for their persecutors daily. They are trusting in the Lord to preserve them each day. They are refusing to give up or to give too much attention to the government. They are staying focused on the commands of the Lord, not the commands of the Communist party.”
Representative Foley notes that persecution is simply another part of ongoing church life for these and other unregistered Chinese churches. “Shouwang Church, for example, updated its members about the August 11 detentions in its regular online church bulletin, right next to a recruitment notice for a new church club, its weekly church financial update, and the meeting arrangements for next week. In other words, it’s just part of the ongoing life of the church.” Representative Foley noted that Shouwang Church has continued to meet outside for 11 years, since it was denied use of its own building. The church recently marked its 592nd outdoor service.
“Just as with the Christians in the Book of Acts, persecution has not stopped the spread of the gospel,” says Representative Foley. “Instead, persecution has spread the gospel to people and places it would otherwise not reach—from parks to tea houses to police stations to prison cells.”
Representative Foley says it is too soon to determine whether the three crackdowns on the same weekend are a sign of a new wave of restrictions imposed by authorities. “I am certain that these three churches would agree that the biggest news is not that they were raided again by the Chinese government, but that Jesus Christ has continued to sustain them through every hardship.”
Elder You Guanhui, one of several members of Beijing’s Shouwang Church who were detained at home or questioned by authorities on Thursday August 11.
Worship at Beijing’s Zion Church before authorities barred the church from using its building. The church now worships outdoors.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea continues to call Christians to set aside special times of intercession for Zion Church, Shouwang Church, Early Rain Church, and China’s other unregistered churches. “Pray not only for the Lord to continue to sustain them through these times of persecution but also that the Holy Spirit would empower their witness to police officers and authorities every time they are held for questioning,” says Representative Foley.
Individuals interested in learning more about Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s work in partnership with underground Chinese Christians wherever they are found can visit www.vomkorea.com/en/china.