Officials terminate church's lease, order all house churches to register

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Guangdong officials have been
closing house churches, forcing
Christians to find new locations for
their religious services.
(Photo: China Aid)
China Aid
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated and written in English by Brynne Lawrence.

(Shenzhen, Guangdong—Dec. 30, 2015) Government officials in China’s southern Guangdong coerced a landlord and corporation to terminate the rental contracts of a house church, leaving them without a place to hold religious services.

Initially, the landlord notified Huaqiao City Church that, due to pressure from the authorities, they would not be allowed to renew their lease when it ended earlier this year. The electricity was shut off for three weeks, and a pastor from this church surnamed Li petitioned the relevant branches of government for it to be temporarily restored.

Guo Yongfeng, a Christian from Shenzhen, added that, “…they must unconditionally move out by January 2016. If they don’t move out, [the officials] could carry out enforcement methods.”

In compliance with the command to leave, church members searched for a new building, but all potential landlords refused to rent their properties to them. Five months after the expiration of their lease, they signed a rental contract with a corporation that reneged on their agreement after reporting the incident to government officials, who are large shareholders in their organization.

This case of government interference in regular church activity is not an isolated event. The government issued an ultimatum throughout Shenzhen that all house churches either register or face unspecified consequences.

Guo addressed the complications of this requirement with China Aid’s reporter: “There are many churches that have registered, but there are also other house churches that refuse to register. However, they suffer the government’s [persecution]. It is more than they can bear; they don’t have any means to go to the [correct government] departments and register. Some are churches that have more than 10 or 20 people. They all must complete the registration and become Three-Self churches.”

“If we, [activists and dissidents], go to a church or a house church, they will be asked to close,” Guo said. “Furthermore, I am not permitted to go to the church that takes the initiative to greet me. Shenzhen’s Domestic Security Protection Bureau said to me, ‘You cannot go to any house churches right now, [but] you can go to a Three-Self church.”

China Aid exposes religious freedom abuses, such as those experienced by Huaqiao City Church, in order to promote religious freedom and rule of law in China.

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