Wang Xiaofei’s husband, Pastor Yang Xibo, leads Xunsiding Church, the largest house church in Xiamen, Fujian province. During the past three years, authorities have shut down the church building, secretly followed church members, destroyed private property, forced members to send their children to public schools, and fined Wang Xiaofei and her husband more than 100,000 CNY (roughly $14,000) for organizing illegal gatherings. This month, an appeals court upheld the original verdict, ordering the couple to pay the fines.
Wang Xiaofei responded by rejoicing.
“She posted an update on social media after receiving the verdict,” says Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley. “She said she was not surprised because scripture tells us that we should expect to join in Christ’s suffering, and that we should receive that suffering as a glory granted to us by God.”
Representative Foley says that the pastor’s wife quoted 1 Peter 2:20-21 in her post: “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you would follow in His steps.”
According to Representative Foley, the recent round of troubles began for Xunsiding Church on May 19, 2019, when police shut down the church building and issued a 25,000 CNY fine (around $3,600) for illegal gatherings. “Local authorities blockaded the church building for a month and followed several church members,” says Representative Foley. She notes that the church tried meeting at several different locations, but the gatherings were always raided by police. “Officers would regularly show up on Sundays to beat and arrest congregants,” she says.
Still, however, authorities failed to dissolve the church. The government then opted for administrative penalties and excessive fines—a strategy becoming more popular in China and other countries where Christianity is restricted, says Representative Foley.
“Authorities are finding that imprisonment and torture don’t stop Christians and their churches,” says Representative Foley. “So authorities are now trying to fine churches out of existence. They fine them over and over again, in increasing amounts, in the belief that Christians will ultimately choose to stop meeting out of fear of the financial consequences.”
Pastor Yang and Mrs. Wang were first fined in July 2021. Their initial appeal was denied by Siming District People’s Government. This month, their second appeal was denied by Xiamen Municipal Intermediate People’s Court.
Representative Foley says that the social media post of the pastor’s wife shows that the church is not going to be intimidated by the financial penalties.
“Xunsiding Church has a rich history of more than 100 years, and they have faced severe difficulties before,” says Representative Foley. “Pastor Yang’s aunt and father were both significant figures in the church. Pastor Yang’s aunt was imprisoned for 15 years, and Pastor Yang’s father was imprisoned for five years. But each time the church has persevered by the grace of God, refusing to join the state-sanctioned Three-Self Church and instead remaining faithful to Christ alone.”
Xunsiding Church Pastor Yang Xibo with his wife before the second trial
Representative Foley says Voice of the Martyrs Korea is calling on Christians to join in prayer for Wang Xiaofei, her husband Pastor Yang Xibo, and Xunsiding Church.
“First, we should rejoice just as Wang Xiaofei did, that the Lord has counted Xunsiding Church worthy to suffer for his name,” says Representative Foley. “Next, we should praise God for so many Chinese churches that are continuing their bold witness for Christ today, even after they lose their buildings and are forced to pay repeated fines. Finally, we should pray that the Lord will meet all their needs in Christ Jesus, showing us how to stand with them in their suffering.”
Individuals interested in learning about or supporting Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s work in partnership with the house church Christians of China can visit www.vomkorea.com/en/china or give via electronic transfer to:
KB Bank: 463501-01-243303
Account Holder: (사)순교자의소리
Please note “China” on the transfer.