Authorities shut down government Three-Self church, hundreds of believers have no place to meet

Saturday, January 1, 2011

persecution1(Chengde, China – Jan. 1, 2011) In a troubling new development, yet another report has reached ChinaAid Association of Chinese authorities cracking down on a government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement church for trying to celebrate Christmas.

On Christmas Day 2010, a government-approved Three-Self church in Hejia Village, Sanjie Town, Chengde county, Hebei province, was attacked by more than 10 officials from the county Religious Affairs Bureau, the Domestic Security Department, the Public Security police brigade, the township government, and the school leadership, who burst into the high school building that this church had lawfully rented and began filming and taping the proceedings. They ordered the Christmas celebrations stopped and threatened to arrest and fine the believers if they did not stop singing. They also ridiculed the food the believers had prepared for a group meal, saying it was awful. They clearly had no idea what the believers were doing in church.
The pastor of this church, Sister Liang Shuyu, insisted on leading the church in celebrating Christmas, but was forced to delay until the 28th. But then, on the 27th, as the church was preparing to celebrate Christmas, this same gang showed up again and closed down the meeting site, even sealing up the premises with tape. This act of persecution was mainly led by: the director of the county Religious Affairs Bureau, Li Laishun; the town mayor, Duan Xiangjing; and the HeJia Village party secretary, Li Xiaofeng, as well as principal of the Hejia Village high school, Chen Zhishan. Because their church has been sealed up, the believers have lost their place to meet.
This is a Three-Self church approved in 2002 by the county Religious Affairs Bureau and the “two committees,” that is, the Three-Self Patriotic Association and the China Christian Council. In the past five years, under the leadership of Sister Liang Shuyu, its 10 members slowly grew to the current 500 or so people. Because it needed a larger meeting site, the church in recent years rented an abandoned dormitory on the grounds of the Hejia Village high school, with which they signed a 50-year lease. In the past several years, the church invested a great deal of money and labor to transform the dormitory into a church meeting place. After the Dec. 25 attack, only 100-plus people dared show up for meetings; the villagers are poor and were afraid of being fined. After the church was sealed up, many local residents who were ignorant of the truth of the events even started thinking that this was a cult (because in that area there actually has been a violent group that is a cult).
ChinaAid Association is shocked to learn that this Three-Self church has been persecuted. The fact that more and more Three-Self churches are being persecuted clearly shows that the Religious Affairs Bureau and the “two committees” are not religious organizations at all but are arms of the government whose aim is to control and suppress any church that persists in the principles of the faith. The Three-Self churches are their subordinates, but a significant number of Three-Self churches are committed to the true faith and the persecution they are suffering is the best evidence of this. Therefore, it is important to differentiate between the Three-Self as a government organ and the Three-Self church, and to recognize that the government uses the Three-Self Patriotic Association and the China Christian Council to incite disunity and hatred between the Three-Self churches and the house churches. Therefore, all churches that persist in the principles and the mission of the faith – whether they be Three-Self churches or house churches – should unite together, face government persecution together so as to more effectively carry out the sacred Great Commission entrusted to us by Jesus Christ.
ChinaAid Association president Pastor Bob Fu makes a New Year’s appeal on this the first day of 2011 to the Chinese church to bring about greater unity and alliance, spread the Gospel widely, glorify God and help others, and be prepared to face more widespread and more serious persecution without fear. Think of the government’s “Operation Deterrence” campaign as the Chinese church’s refinement by fire. After all, in the storm on the Lake of Galilee, the Lord was in the boat with us, therefore be firm and brave; in the midst of fierce winds and rain, receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

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