Good News/Bad News: Local Government & House Church in Sichuan Reach Settlement; in Shandong, Persecution Continues

Friday, December 23, 2011

China Aid Association

(Jiaozhou, Shandong – Dec. 22, 2011) Local officials in coastal Shandong province have cut all the power lines to a house church to prevent its members from holding a planned Christmas celebration, ChinaAid has learned.

On Wednesday, Pastor Zhan Gang discovered that all the power lines to his church building had been severed by the government-controlled Electricity Bureau at the request of the Jiaozhou city Religious Affairs Bureau. His 300-strong house church had been preparing for its Christmas celebration, and the religious affairs officials had warned Pastor Zhan, who is also the general-secretary of the Chinese House Church Alliance, that his church should not have any Christmas gathering.

Pastor Zhan left the government-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement several years ago and established an independent house church, which has been subjected to continuous government harassment.

"To cut off the electricity of a 300-member church in order to prevent the believers from celebrating Christmas absolutely violates these believers' constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion," said ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu, who personally knows Pastor Zhan. "We urge the Shandong authorities to take immediate measures to reverse its wrong decision and to permit local believers to have a peaceful Christmas celebration."

Meanwhile, in southwest China’s Sichuan province, the Shangxi Church in Guangyuan and the local government reached a court-mediated settlement on Tuesday. The reconciliation came against the backdrop of great international pressure as well as the continuous support of legal rights activists. According to the settlement, the Guangyuan authorities made a verbal apology to the church it had long persecuted and pledged to allow the church to meet and not to interfere in its meetings. In return, the church dropped its lawsuit against the local government.

ChinaAid welcomes this development and the process that led to this positive outcome. We hope that the authorities will keep their word and protect the citizens’ right to religious freedom.

ChinaAid would also like to take this opportunity to remind churches and Christians that, based on past practice, the Christmas season is a time when the mainland church will suffer intense persecution and harassment. Therefore, we need to raise this up in prayer and look to God for His protection.

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