One House Church’s Account of Prolonged and Recent Official Persecution

Sunday, December 12, 2010

(Yichun, China ─ Dec. 12, 2010) As news of a new crackdown on house churches came to light last week, recent incidents serve as reminders that for many house church Christians all across China, official persecution and harassment has been prolonged, on-going and is a simple fact of life if they are determined to live out their faith outside of government control and interference.
ChinaAid Association recently received this written account of one church’s experience of years of harassment and interference by government authorities in Yichun, in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, and the local government's recent success in causing the church to abandon its meetings. Their entire statement is below:

“Nancha District Unity Church has been persecuted for many years during its communion and baptismal services. For many years, the church has been under the pastoral care of Elder Wang Dekui, who is also responsible for the sacramental ceremonies. Every year, during a sacrament ceremony, Elder Wang is taken away by the Nancha Religious Affairs Bureau and the Domestic Security Department, so much so that the church’s sacrament ceremonies cannot be carried out in a normal manner. For instance, one day in the summer of 2007, during the Lord’s Supper, as Elder Wang was handing out the communion elements, Nancha religious affairs officials and members of the Domestic Security Department broke into the meeting place and forcibly took Elder Wang away. This happened again in 2008.
“On Nov. 27, 2010, Du Junying, the previous leader of the church, suddenly returned to her heavenly home (died). Those who had worked with her in church leadership and the church members were all saddened by her departure and were busy planning her memorial service. Someone with insider information told us that the government wanted to bring us under government control by means of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee, but we did not pay much attention to this warning because we had never had any contact with the Three-Self System. The church leadership discussed the matter and decided that after the memorial service, they would make some adjustments and additions to the church leadership team.
“Following the Nov. 29 memorial service, the believers gathered for prayer. The next day, the deacons and the preachers who had been part of the previous church leadership team formed a new team and the resolution was adopted at the meeting. After the vote, as we were praying, five people from Nancha Religious Affairs Bureau and the Domestic Security Department burst in without knocking. While taking videos of us, they shouted at us, ordering us to stop praying. Everyone present at the scene was frightened. They declared: “The reorganization of your leadership team is illegal and therefore is not valid. It must be arranged by the Three-Self Committee.” We said, “We are not a Three-Self church.” They replied: “If you are not a Three-Self church, then you must give up this site for religious activities. Otherwise, you can’t use this site.” They stayed there for nearly an hour before leaving. Ever since, our church has been visited by a succession of misfortunes, and everyone lives in fear.
“We had scheduled a church meeting for the afternoon of Wednesday Dec 1. Five leaders from the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of Yichun Municipality (whose identities we learned only after the fact) entered our room by force without showing any identification, trailed by people from the Nancha Religious Affairs Bureau, the Domestic Security Department and the local police station. They took videos without our permission and ordered us to be silent. Wang Shulang, president of the TSPM Committee, said: “Your leadership team is an illegal organization. This must be determined by us, and if not, then you must disband your church.” The Domestic Security Department and the Religious Affairs Bureau threatened us, saying that they could do whatever they wanted. They also slandered and attacked Elder Wang, fabricating lies to frighten the believers. This caused a great disturbance to our meeting and scared away many people. Our gathering was totally disrupted and everyone scattered.
“The situation continued to worsen. On Sat. Dec 4, another church gathering was planned. This time, the authorities came with greater vengeance: Zhao Lei, deputy director of the Yichun Municipal Religious Affairs Bureau, broke into our room, again leading people from the Nancha Religious Affairs Bureau, the Domestic Security Department and TSPM Committee, and planted himself in the midst of us believers. Zhao Lei gave a talk in which he slandered Elder Wang and launched personal attacks against him. With his support, the TSPM Committee people became all the more reckless and aggressive, grabbing our preacher, and pushing him aside, prohibiting him from delivering his sermon. They pounded the table, yelled in a loud voice and insisted that they would preach, and they wouldn’t let us talk.  This lasted for two hours before they left.
“That night, the TSPM Committee and the local police changed the cylinder in the lock to the room that we used for our meetings. The next day, Sunday Dec. 5, people from the Nancha Religious Affairs Bureau, the Domestic Security Department, the local police station, the TSPM Committee as well as a group of unidentified people occupied the room and wouldn’t let us have our meeting there. They took charge and wouldn’t let us say anything. They forcibly took videos of us and lectured us until after 12 noon. At the beginning of this incident, someone with insider knowledge told us that Zhao Lei had boasted to the Religious Affairs Bureau and the Domestic Security Department that he would certainly get rid of our church this time once for all.
“Now the members of our church are scattered to the four winds and our church has totally collapsed. We are intimidated and under the heavy weight of the power of the government. We have no idea what tomorrow might bring.”

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985