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Beijing Shouwang Church Announcement on April 24th Easter Outdoor Worship

Monday, April 25, 2011

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In what has become a weekly exercise now, the leadership of Shouwang  Church has issued a bulletin to inform its congregation and the rest of the world of what happened when church members tried to worship outdoors on the Sunday just passed and to encourage church members as they go through this trying period. Below are the highlights of their bulletin about what happened on Easter Sunday:

1)      Because so many church leaders and members were under informal house arrest or had been told by their employers that Sunday was a work day or been sent by their bosses on out-of-town business trips, fewer than 100 Shouwang members managed to show up at the same designated outdoor worship site. Of those under house arrest, some had had their freedom restricted as early as Wednesday, and most were not allowed freedom of movement until Sunday night or Monday. Most of the church’s top leaders have been under continuous informal house arrest since April 9. Of those who showed up at the meeting site, 36 were detained by police and as of the writing of the bulletin, 16 were still in police custody in Chaoyang District.
2)      Church members were encouraged to remember the suffering of Christ and to take joy in the opportunity to suffer with him and to stand with the weak and marginalized of society who are often unjustly treated and share in their suffering; to remember that they are engaged in a spiritual battle and that Christ has already triumphed over Satan; to remember the price God paid for our sins and to join him in bearing the losses that love requires; and to be used as instruments to bring the love of God to others, even the police and the government that are persecuting them.
3)      The government was called upon to abide by its own laws and regulations, to stop infringing on citizens’ rights with no legal basis whatsoever, to stop spending taxpayers’ money to mobilize police and hire people of questionable identity to bar church members from leaving their homes, to use its God-granted authority appropriately and to work with the church to find an early resolution to the current church-state conflict. The bulletin noted that the government’s actions are not in keeping with the actions of a civilized society nor with its own stated objective of promoting the rule of law in China.
4)      The bulletin reiterated Shouwang’s determination to continue with outdoor worship and to stick to its position, and asked for prayers that God would continue to sustain and quickly make a way for Shouwang.

Beijing Shouwang Church Bulletin on the April 24 Easter Outdoor Worship Service
Translated by China Aid Association
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Peace in the Lord! Thanks be to God for letting us once again experience the power of his resurrection through a special form of worship on this day of remembering our Lord Christ’s resurrection, and for his faithful protection in getting us through this most unusual Easter Sunday in our lives as sojourners (on this earth).

The morning of April 24 was sunny and warm in Beijing. The church’s place and time for outdoor worship was the same. Because many brothers and sisters had been restricted to their homes since Friday or Saturday and because some work units changed Sunday into a work day and further because some believers were sent on out-of-town business trips by their employers, the number of people who could go out and get to the church’s designated outdoor worship site numbered fewer than 100. Because the area was sealed off by police, they were not able to worship as a whole. Some small groups succeeded in completing the entire worship service in nearby restaurants, but other small groups on their way to the plaza designated for outdoor worship were stopped by police and taken away in waiting buses or police vehicles to the nearby Haidian police station. Based on our count, 36 brothers and sisters were taken to the police station in the morning. After being questioned, with careful notes taken, they were transferred to 24 different police stations. At some police stations, the brothers and sisters were treated rather well and the police station provided food, but at other police stations, not only did they not provide any food, they refused to accept the food and clothing that other brothers and sisters brought for the detained believers. There were even cases of police grappling with our brothers (for instance, at Anzhenli police station). Some brothers and sisters were released in the afternoon of the 24th; but currently of the 21 brothers and sisters detained in Chaoyang District, 16 have yet to be released. Some police at the police stations threatened the detainees, saying if they did not write statements of personal guarantee, they would be held for 48 hours. Those brothers and sisters who were told to write statements of personal guarantee were prepared to be locked up for 48 hours.

For some brothers and sisters, it was their first time being taken to a police station, but for others it was the second or third time. We believe that each brother and sister who walked out of his or her front door that morning knew clearly what they would encounter once they got there, but they still stepped out without a second thought, and in so doing demonstrated their willingness and resolve to abandon all to the Lord. Even though our pastors, elders, lay leaders and all the brothers and sisters who were restricted to their homes, upon hearing that brothers and sisters had been rounded up, grieved with tears before the Lord for not being able to be with them, but in our tears we also gave thanks and rejoiced. We are thankful for the faith and courage of those brothers and sisters; we admire them for their willingness to pay the price for their uncompromising faith. And we are comforted and encouraged that we can serve the Lord together in the same church, to serve as witnesses together in these times of the glory of our risen Lord.

In this spiritual battle, in addition to the brothers and sisters who have bravely borne witness for the Lord and for their own faith at the plaza or in the police stations, more and more brothers and sisters since last week have been imprisoned in their homes, which means the battle more and more is being fought at our front doors. Some brothers and sisters have been imprisoned at home since Wednesday and not allowed to go out; most were restricted to their homes starting on Friday or Saturday, until Sunday night or Monday. Five of the church’s pastors and elders have been imprisoned in their homes since April 9. Other than occasional brief outings, they have not been allowed to go outside or to receive visitors for the past 17 days. Pastor (Li) Xiaobai has also been imprisoned in his home for more than two weeks. Minister Yuanling has recently also been imprisoned at home for many days. All the church lay leaders and brothers and sisters who have been imprisoned at home have been very cooperative in allowing themselves to be locked up in their own homes, with no one getting into any conflicts with the guards over this. Some have even used the opportunity to share the Gospel with those who are guarding us. We regard this imprisonment as suffering for the Lord, for which we are not worthy, and a way for us to share in the suffering of the Lord Christ. At the same time, we gladly accept this opportunity the Lord has given us to stand in this way with those at the bottom of society, the weak and the marginalized who have been unjustly treated, and as disciples of Christ to endure what they have endured, just as our Lord when he was on this earth willingly stood with all those people in his time who had been abandoned by society, going through suffering for them.

But while we are willing to endure, we also want to point out, with honesty in Christ, that these acts by the Beijing Municipal government all totally violate Chinese law: dispatching police from local police stations and using taxpayers money to hire some people of questionable identity to go to the front doors of the homes of many believers and restrict their citizens’ right to freedom of movement with no legal basis whatsoever, or to pressure the employers or landlords to force them to fire or evict believers with no good cause. These actions not only do not conform in any way to today’s civilized human society, they also go against the spirit of governing by rule of law that this great nation is trying to promote. Therefore, we call on the relevant government departments to refrain from using governmental power to covertly persecute citizens with religious beliefs, use the power God grants governments appropriately, do your part and do your duty as required as a government department and together with our church find a solution at an early date to the current problem we face in church-state relations. If we have truly violated the laws and regulations of the People’s Republic of China in some way, we hope that we will receive public and fair treatment and investigation. In order to better promote the establishment of the rule of law in Chinese society, we willingly accept responsibility for any legal consequences, as a way of showing our love as Christians for this nation.

We love this country because our Lord loves this country. Last week, Passion Week, God allowed a family in our church to lose their beloved child. In this awesome and yet sorrowful way, we were stripped of any self-righteousness we might have had, allowing us to personally experience the way God the Father painfully gave up his beloved son (as an atonement) to appease His wrath in the heavens. Through this, we clearly understand that Christ’s love far surpasses our limited understanding of justice. God’s Son would rather that he himself pays the price for all, would rather that all those whom he loves and who sincerely follow him join him in bearing all the losses, so as to show how great is his love for this nation and for each and every person in this city. Just as, even before we knew him, he had already died for us sinners, even unto death on the cross. May we with the love of Christ pray for those police who violently pushed us around on the plaza, the staff at the police stations who yelled and screamed at us, the guards at our doors who bar us and even rudely forbid us to talk to people, and those government officials who might just be trying to protect their own personal interests in their decision-making. May we be used to bring the love of Christ to them, just as God in the past used others to bring this love to us.

As we die with the Lord so surely will we experience with him the power of his resurrection, which is that he has already triumphed and bound up the power of Satan. Satan wants to use this to cause division in Christ’s church, but victory in Christ tells us that Satan ultimately has “no part, no power and no place” in God’s church. We want to state again that Shouwang will hold to her position by God’s grace and continue with outdoor worship. We don’t know when the Lord will make a way for his church, we simply ask God to grant us a patient heart as we wait. We again ask Shouwang Church and the Lord’s churches everywhere to earnestly and sincerely lift us up in prayer before the Lord in this matter, that the Lord would uphold Shouwang Church with his mighty hand and make a way for his church quickly.

Imprisoned at home for the Lord, Pastor Tianming, Elder Sunyi, Elder Guanhui, Elder Liuguan, Pastor Xiaofeng, Pastor Xiaobai, Minister Yuanling, and the other lay leaders greet our brothers and sisters in the Lord. May the peace and grace of the resurrected Lord, the mercy and love of God the Father, and the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate who moves through the church, be with each and every brother and sister of Shouwang Church and with all the churches everywhere who remember Shouwang Church in their prayers, from this time forward and forevermore! Amen.

Beijing Shouwang Church; April 25, 2011

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