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World News

Authorities raid Chinese house church, detain pastor and members

by Will Maule

Chinese state authorities have raided a house church in Taiyuan, Shanxi province as it held its Sunday service. Security burst into the service on 15th November before briefly detaining the preacher and six other members.  

International Christian Concern reports that at around 9:20am, a group of officials identifying themselves as being from the public security bureau, ethnic and religious affairs bureau and ministry of civil affairs raided Xuncheng Church as the service was underway. The public security commander marched straight up to the pulpit, confiscating the mobile phone of the leader and demanding that church member Zhang Chenghao go with them. The agents then asked to talk with pastor An Yankui, to which he responded, “We are in the middle of our worship; please wait until our service is over.” The security personnel accepted this and waited. However, following the service they began to question An’s qualifications as a preacher, querying whether his credentials were approved by the state and whether the gathering was registered with the Government. Unconvinced, they seized Pastor An and posted a disbandment notice on the house church’s door. 

According to ICC, around 1pm, along with the preacher and his wife, "five other Christians were brought to the Pingyang Road Police Station for interrogation."

"The police tried to mislead them into disclosing unfavorable information about their church," ICC added. "They were asked to provide the passwords to their cell phones. In response to their resistance, the detained Christians were handcuffed and transported to another police facility. In the process, sister Zhang Xiao-ai, who was keeping watch at the entrance, was also taken away.

"At 3:00 p.m., the Christians were asked to change into prison uniforms. They were then handcuffed in a detention room. It was not until 6:00 p.m. that they were able to change back into their clothes and asked to each provide a statement. These believers were only released around 9:30 p.m."

Gina Goh, ICC’s regional manager for Southeast Asia, said of the incident: “In this day and age, where any religion in China has to submit itself to the control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and President Xi Jinping, it is no longer a surprise that a house church is seen as an enemy of the state and clamped down upon.

"China’s blindness to its violation of religious freedom needs to be continuously exposed so that Beijing knows it cannot get away with performing these evil acts.”

China Aid reports that Xuncheng Church was planted out of Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) in Chengdu, which has come under brutal persecution in recent years. Wang Yi, Early Rain's senior pastor, has been imprisoned since December 2018 after he criticised the Government for its oppression of Christians. 

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