Series of disrupted New Year’s, Christmas gatherings across China result in one dead from complications of disease

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

China Aid Association
Information in this report was collected by a ChinaAid reporter stationed in Hong Kong

(Hong Kong—Jan. 8, 2014) One woman is dead from complications of an existing disease after she suffered from persecution that targeted her church’s New Year’s celebration; many other house churches experienced government interference over the holiday season as well.

On Jan. 1, a house church in China’s far western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was celebrating the New Year when local police raided the meeting. Nine members of the house church, which gathers in a cement factory in the provincial capital Ürümqi, were detained during the raid.

One believer, who was only identified by her surname, Guo, is suspected to have been treated inhumanely, which caused Guo’s emphysema to become unmanageable by Friday. Efforts to resuscitate Guo were unsuccessful.

Another believer detained in the raid said that on the second day of detention, Thursday, believers were made to give an oral confession and were fined 500 yuan (US$82.60).

Yet another Christian, who wasn’t detained in the raid, said that those who were detained are under pressure from the police. He said that the individuals are afraid to speak to the media about the incident, and many plan to pay the fine.

A small house church in Xincheng, a small town in China’s coastal Shandong province, which branched from a larger church in Jiaozhou Bay, is being evicted from their gathering place.

Pastor Zhan Gang, the vice-president of the Chinese Christian House Church Alliance and leader of the Jiaozhou Bay house church, said that authorities have been to Xincheng Church many times.

“[The authorities] found the landlord and demanded that we move to another place,” Zhan said. He told ChinaAid that in early Janurary, the church received an oral joint-notice from the local neighborhood committee and the local police station, citing the church’s gathering as illegal.

“We have an appointment with the landlord this afternoon. He said he doesn’t have the time. I said we will go outside, and I’ll wait for the landlord to come to the church to talk about this matter,” Zhan said.

“All the believers at Xincheng Church are locals,” Zhan said. “It is not a big congregation. At its peak, we have 70 to 80 people. Most of the time, 50 to 60 people come to gatherings.”

A believer in coastal China’s Anhui province reported that police disrupted his church’s Christmas celebration.

“On Sunday, Dec. 22, we celebrated Christmas. It is said four police went there. The church has a congregation of over 200 people. They didn’t succeed in going there as the gathering was dispersed by police,” Mark, the believer who asked to be known only by his English name, said of the house church in Fuyang, Anhui.

“Then they changed the date to Dec. 24, and over 100 people attended the gathering. Nothing happened. [The church] gathered at two placed, and they also celebrated on Dec. 25,” Mark said.

Over the Christmas holiday, approximately 400 believers in a house church in Langzhong, a city in China’s southwestern Sichuan province, gathered to celebrate Christmas when police raided their gathering.

Two believers were placed under administrative detention for 15 days. The church’s pastor, Li Ming, said that under normal circumstances, the believers would have been released at night on the same day they were taken into custody.

A Christian bookstore, called The 7-Page Bookstore, located in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of south China’s Guangdong province, was inspected by several government agencies multiple times over the past week—the first week that the bookstore was even in business.

“The 7-Page Bookstore is defending its rights,” said Tang, a Christian lawyer who is providing legal aid to the bookstore. “I’ve done some inquiries, and the founder of the bookstore told me that not long after she opened the bookstore, the authorities exerted pressure on the landlord and ordered him to cancel the leasing agreement.”

“For the time being, the landlord has withstood the pressure. This is the situation right now,” Tang said.

ChinaAid condemns these acts of persecution against Christians. We will continue to monitor these situations and update as necessary. Please remember to pray for these believers.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
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