Another prominent unregistered church in China, Shouwang Church in Beijing, was raided by Chinese police over the weekend and officially banned from gathering to worship.
Shouwang, which draws more than 1,000 attendees, is the fourth major underground congregation shut down by the Communist government over the past several months, as party leaders and heads of the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement intensify efforts to rid religious groups of Western influence and exert control to make them more Chinese.
Similar to earlier incidents at Early Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan, Zion Church in Beijing, and Rongguili Church in Guangzhou, officials interrupted Bible study gatherings at two Shouwang Church locations on Saturday, putting the activities to a halt, interrogating and briefly detaining dozens of attendees, and switching the locks of their buildings to keep them from returning, according to International Christian Concern (ICC).
The church had been charged with violating the country’s Regulations of Religious Affairs and Regulations on the Registration and Management of Social Organizations by operating without government registration.
Shouwang members refused to sign a document pledging to never attend the church again, and leaders said the church will continue to worship by adjusting meeting times and locations.
Throughout its 26-year history, Shouwang members have refused to come under Communist authority and persevered despite persecution, with their “underground” services forced outside when evicted from their buildings in 2009 and with their founding pastor Jin Tianming under house arrest since 2011.
“China’s oppression against house churches will not be loosened,” Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid, told ICC. “A systematic, in-the-name-of-law crackdown will continue to take place.”
Fu’s organization noted that religious restrictions adopted by China last year “narrow the margin in which unregistered churches previously thrived.”
The biggest unregistered churches have recognized the growing threat to their ability to continue worshiping, but do so anyway, at a large scale and in public.
“When we heard that Shouwang Church is being persecuted again, […] and other churches facing various pressure from the government, we kneeled down to pray to give thanks and praises to our God, because we are delighted that the bride of Christ is closely following her husband,” Early Rain said in a statement of solidarity.
Early Rain’s pastor Wang Yi remains detained with a dozen church leaders after a raid in December. In a statement Wang prepared in the event of his arrest, he defended nonviolent resistance against the “evil” of Chinese efforts to halt the spread of the gospel.
Click here to read more.
Source: Christianity Today