Church leader, mother arrested for organizing Christian gathering



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Chinese officials often interrupt house
churches, such as the one pictured above,
and falsely accuse them of illegal activities.
(Photo: ChinaAid)
ChinaAid

(Xianning, Hubei—Sept. 20, 2017) Three Christians were detained when officials China’s Hubei province stormed a gathering of Christians and accused them of “gathering illegally” on Sept. 13.

According to Xu Shizhen, who pastors Zion Church in Xianning, Hubei, a group of Christians from the church had convened at a public square to sing psalms when Yang Haijun, the deputy director of the district’s religious affairs bureau, spotted them and summoned officers from the Yongan Police Station. He broke through the crowd, pointed at Xu, told the officials that she was the principal preacher, and ordered them to seize her and her mother. Xu was told that she had organized an illegal gathering.

Yang also commanded the police to confiscate the church’s speaker and electronic devices and threatened to detain all of the congregants.

Xu’s daughter told a ChinaAid reporter, “Seven years ago, Yang Haijun was still a hooligan. He led a group of gangsters to smash our donation box, doors, and the locks on our church.”

On Aug. 23, the religious affairs bureau issued Xu a notice that officially accused the church members of violating the Regulations on Religious Affairs and commanded them to halt all evangelism. However, Xu’s evangelistic efforts span 38 years, and, motivated by the belief that the church services did not break any laws, she asked Yang why he was taking such measures.

In response, he challenged her to sue him, and she said, “Why are you forcing me to sue you? You can’t keep forcing me like this.”

Xu previously worked at Hongqiao Church, which was taken over by personnel from the state-run Three-Self Church and the religious affairs departments in April 2012. The locks on the church were changed, the offering box was damaged, and more than 200 Christians were ousted from the congregation.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those inflicted on churches in Hubei province, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.


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