Christian committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement evicts Jiaozhou Bay Christian Church in Shandong Province

Friday, August 23, 2013

China Aid Association

August 23, 2013

On Aug. 22, the Christian committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) in Jiaozhou, Qingdao, Shandong Province issued a notice in an attempt to evict Jiazhou Bay Christian Church, a house church that gathered to worship in Bainian Hall, citing that the hall is privately established and the occupancy is illegal. The TSPM gave the church a three day notice and tried to seize the church’s other properties.

Bainian Hall's external repairs are near completion in this photo.
On the morning of Aug. 21, Zhang Shuguang (Police No. 022435), a police officer from Zhongyun Police Station in Jiaozhou city, led several “assistant” police officers to break into Bainian Hall to investigate an alleged pyramid scheme. The police officers threatened the church members present and confiscated their cell phones. The officers forcefully detained the pastor’s wife, along with several church members, and held them for several hours. The “assistant” officers were temporary employees and none, including Zhang, showed the proper documents to the church members.

That afternoon, Officer Zhang brought Deng Jie, director of the TSPM committee appointed by the Religious Affairs Bureau; Wang Zhanquan, assistant director and son of the original director of the Jiaozhou TSPM Christian committee; Li Shusheng, an accountant from Jiaozhou Bureau of Finance; Gao Fuqiang, a gate guard; and several other people to break into Bainian Hall. The men brought a document issued by the Religious Affairs Bureau and threated the brothers and sisters in the church who were reading the Bible.

A China Aid reporter learned in a lengthy interview that the TSPM Christian committee of Jiaozhou city has been infected by a serious corruption of power. In September 2010, the director of the Jiaozhou TSPM Christian committee died and left a will that arranged for his followers and his son to be included as a part of the committee. This will was submitted to the Jiaozhou Religious Affairs Bureau, which skipped the procedures set forth in the Regulation of Chinese Christian Council and by the TSPM and appointed the individuals named in the will.

As a result of this administrative manipulation from the local government in charge of religious affairs, many young missionaries were pushed out of the organization. Additionally, this action is a serious violation of the law and it has brought great dissatisfaction and protest from Christians. When Christians in Jiaozhou attempted to negotiate with the Religious Affairs Bureau, they were assaulted by gangsters hired by the newly appointed TSPM leaders.

Bainian Hall
The group that makes up the Jiazhou Bay Christian Church came together in October 2010, and met in the Central Christian Hall, but were forced to leave by the new TSPM Christian committee. As a result, the group began to hold their worship services in Bainian Hall, which was built by a Christian Baptist Church from Sweden. The group announced the establishment of the Jiaozhou Bay Christian Church and invited Zhan Gang, who had once worked as a deputy director in a Christian TSPM department, to be their chief pastor.

According to historical records, Bainian Hall (so named by the brothers and sisters who were worshipping there) was built in early 1900s by Ren Qifei, a pastor of a Swedish Christian Baptist Church. Here, Ruihua Elementary School was founded and was promoted to Ruihua Middle School in 1909. During the period from 1909 to 1947, the Church trained a large number of youths with noble goals.

Bainian Hall had been vacant for over six years before the members of Christ within the TSPM Christian committee who sought truth and righteousness came to worship there in 2010. Bainian Hall, having been exposed to the elements for years without care, was in need of repair, both inside and out. The roof was leaking and whole pieces of the wall had peeled off. Because of the lack of funds, Bainian Hall could not be effectively repaired or maintained. The Christians became worried when they saw this, but they looked to God and prayed for funds that could be used to revive the building.

By the glory of God, brothers and sisters from various places donated money for the repair of Bainian Hall and the grace of the Lord was sufficient. In early August 2013, the repair of Bainian Hall officially started. “It is as if we were experiencing the reconstruction of the Temple during the return period in the Bible,” the church member in charge of repairs said. “It is necessary that we experience quite a number of barriers and attacks. However, Jesus Christ will surely become the force with which we will triumph!” His words were full of confidence and energy.

So far, the repair of Bainian Hall’s roof and outer walls is complete. Repairs for the interior have been put on hold temporarily as funds are once again low. “We are already grateful for this,” the wife of the pastor said. “At least there won’t be any leaking in the roof and water won’t come out through the outer walls. We believe that God will surely prepare for us the funds for the renovation of the interior.

China Aid is closely watching the development of the incident and believes this is another serious incident where the Chinese government has intentionally suppressed a house church. We call on Christians, both in China and abroad, to pray for the brothers and sisters of Bainian Hall. We hope the TSPM committee of Jiaozhou can sincerely respect the affairs of God and solve this problem through peaceful negotiation. “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Luke 20: 20-26). The TSPM Christian committee shouldn’t collude with the government and even police to resolve the dispute, let alone take by force the church building owned by all the believers and drive the brothers and sisters to the streets.

This is the notice issued by the TSPM committee. It reads as follows:


Zhan Gang, the person in charge of the illegal gathering site:

The gathering site your group of people have privately established without approvals is not legal.   That is to say, it is an illegal seizure of the housing property owned by Christian “Three-Self” Patriotic Movement Committee of Jiaozhou Municipality.  It is already three years since you seized the property.  Without the approvals from the Municipal Bureau of Culture or from this committee, you did renovations on the building and have destroyed the original look of the municipal-class cultural relics.
Today, this is to notify you that you shall move out in three days (by August 25), return the property and stop the violation of rights.  Failure to move out by the designated date will initiate the legal procedure and you shall be responsible for the consequences.  You should know what the consequences are.

Christian “Three-Self” Patriotic Movement Committee of Jiaozhou Municipality
Seal: Christian “Three-Self” Patriotic Movement Committee of Jiaozhou Municipality
August 22, 2013

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Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
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