"Mayflower" Church faces an uncertain future; ChinaAid deploys efforts for solutions

Thursday, February 3, 2022

The Jeju "Mayflower" Church
(Photo: Pastor Pan)

(Jeju Island, South Korea—February 3, 2022) A group of 60 members of a Puritan-influenced church, Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church, also referred to as the Mayflower Church, relocated to Jeju Island in South Korea in 2019 to avoid the Chinese Communist Party’s repressive education policies and anti-religious propaganda. Their vision of having a safe haven is being put to the test.  



Pastor Pan Yongguang of Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church fled to Jeju island because he became a target of the Chinese Communist Party after he signed an open letter protesting the Party’s new regulations on religion. The members of the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church were harassed after refusing to join the public school system of China.  



A considerable number of Chinese Christians are dissatisfied with the CCP-controlled public schools and make arrangements for students to be homeschooled. The government supervises the school textbooks, and they are edited in accordance with the instructions given by the CCP. The materials are filled with a strong ideology of Marxist and Leninist struggle, and China’s education system forces the entire population to receive state-regulated education. This means that students are forced to undergo indoctrination by the CCP.  



Pastor Pan started a church religious education program to help Christian children understand their faith, but the police forced them to enroll in State-operated schools. “They do not want us to teach our kids the Bible, and kids are banned from going to church. This goes against our faith and our conscience,” Pastor Pan revealed. 


This church consists of nearly 100 members, 30 percent of the church members chose to flee after the church’s procedural vote, and the remaining 30 church members in China have been implicated. Pastor Pan disclosed that the 30 church members who remained in Shenzhen continued to face harassment by the state security police. 



Multiple lower courts in South Korea have rejected asylum applications of the church members. Their asylum claims are currently pending in the High Court. Past records show that only 0.4 percent of Chinese nationals who apply for asylum in South Korea were successful in their attempts. 



 Pastor Pan is worried that he will face multiple charges if he is deported to China. “I have been charged with subversion of state power, collusion with anti-China foreign forces, and human trafficking,” Pastor Pan revealed.  



The local state police have threatened his mother, sister, and brother on various occasions.  



Pastor Pan is concerned about the Mayflower church’s circumstances; if their asylum applications are rejected again, they will become illegal immigrants in South Korea 14 days after the date of rejection. 



Mayflower Church members are also applying for asylum in the United States through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The agency said it was unable to process their identities from their office in Seoul. 



The reason behind the Mayflower church’s rejection of asylum remains unknown.  



South Korea’s Jeju Island is close to China’s eastern coastal cities. Perhaps South Korea is concerned that the approval of the Mayflower church’s case will cause a chain reaction and appear to be an open invitation for all. Chinese nationals can obtain a visa upon arrival at Jeju Island, which is convenient for travel. South Korea understands that by democratic standards, China is full of people who can qualify for refugee status in other countries. Suppose South Korea approves the asylum applications of Mayflower church members. In that case, many other Chinese nationals might follow suit and may flock to the island, which would overburden the small island. At the same time, their decision could easily provoke the Chinese Communist Party and cause diplomatic disputes. 



ChinaAid is awaiting updates regarding the legal status of the church members and whether they might face repatriation.  


Dr. Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid, questioned South Korea’s lack of independent character in regards to the Chinese refugees’ issue. 



“China is a major refugee-producing country, and not everyone has the opportunity to flee to the free western countries. Many people flee to Asian countries first, but some Asian countries have been infiltrated by China; those that avoided the infiltration are Taiwan, which has been unable to pass the refugee law; Japan, South Korea, and Singapore are not friendly to Chinese refugees, which often make Chinese refugees feel they are faced with unescaped heartache,” Dr. Bob Fu commented. 



ChinaAid has not given up its efforts to find a workable solution in the United States, even though the situation is not looking too optimistic at this point in time.  



Due to language barriers and the lack of education for children that fled with their parents, the church group is facing difficulties in adjusting to their new lives in Jeju. Most of them work in agriculture, such as picking tangerines on farms to make a living. 


The members of the Mayflower church are still hopeful for the acceptance of a third country, hoping that they will not be sent back to China by the Korean officials before leaving Jeju Island. 




~ Gao Zhensai, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid 


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