02/16/2012 Mongolia (ChinaAid) - In Xilinhot, Inner Mongolia, more than 10 people from the Religious Affairs Bureau, the Public Security’s Domestic Security Protection Squad, the United Front Work Department, and the local police raided a house church—the Canaan Church—at about 10 a.m. Jan. 2, destroying property and arresting the pastor and others. They warned that if those at the meeting did not join a Three-Self church, the house church would be banned and people would be arrested.
The officials forced an end to the worship service, terrorized and threatened all the Christians present and checked their IDs. They also took photos of and video-taped the church scene and then confiscated all the Bibles, hymn books, and other Christian printed matter.
At about noon, they took the church leader, Pastor Wang Dawei, and two other Christian brothers who were from out of town to the Xilinhot police station and interrogated them until 5:30 p.m., when they were finally released.
After Pastor Wang Dawei and the others were taken away, these government officials continued to threaten the believers they were holding at the meeting site and then forced them out of the premises. After expelling the Christians, the government officials destroyed the church’s wall decorations, banners with Bible verses, charts with church rules, etc. When the officials left, they changed the lock on the door, installing one of their own. They warned the Christians that they absolutely did not have permission to hold services unless they joined the local Three-Self church. Otherwise, every time they had a service, they would be rounded up.
The government officials also went to the landlord of the church’s meeting site and threatened him as well. They lied to the landlord, saying that Pastor Wang Dawei was a wanted criminal and said the church was an illegal religious organization. They told the landlord to immediately terminate the lease with the church. Knowing that the church members were all kind and peace-loving Christians, the landlord told the government officials, “Even if I don’t rent this place out to the church, they will go find another place to rent and worship there. And if their pastor is a wanted criminal, how come you released him the same day you took him in?”
Pastor Wang Dawei said in media interviews, “Because I’ve been doing evangelistic work in Inner Mongolia for many years, so I have had many experiences of persecution by local authorities, including direct physical harm to me. After we planted more than a few churches, they [the local government] have been constantly pressuring me to lead these congregations to join the official ‘Three-Self’ church. Our church follows the Reformed Christian tradition and our allegiance to the faith does not allow us to ally ourselves with anti-Christ forces and fake churches. Our believers are very clear about this, that forcing us to join the official church is the same as forcing us to abandon our faith. This raid on our church meeting site obviously is not the first. After years of being forced to interact with them, we actually know each other quite well. This time, they didn’t show any identification or legal paperwork and just barged in to forcibly enforce the law, in blatant violation of the law of China, and yet we were cooperative and didn’t resist in any way.”
Pastor Wang Dawei also said that both he and his congregation are prepared to suffer persecution for the sake of faith, and he earnestly asked that churches everywhere pray for them. He hoped that the church of Christ everywhere would appeal to the government officials of Xilinhot, respectfully asking them to conscientiously put into practice the spirit of China’s constitution, to respect the basic human rights and religious freedom Chinese citizens are entitled to, and not to make wrong decisions that will disappoint the whole of society and all humanity. Furthermore, Pastor Wang has met with and is in contact with a few famous Christian rights defense lawyers. If the situation continues to worsen, he will entrust these human rights lawyers to use legal means to defend the legitimate rights and interests of the Xilinhot house church.