Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

BosNewsLife (03/22/06) — A house church pastor was in jail Wednesday, March 22, in China ‘s Hubei Province after Chinese security forces broke up his Bible study group as part of a new crackdown on evangelical congregations which began last week with the arrests and torture of about 60 church leaders, including teenagers, church sources said.

“Pastor Lian Changnian is now detained at the Detention Center of Xiantao City in Hubei Province ,” said US-based China Aid Association (CAA), a religious rights group representing several ‘underground’ house churches. CAA told BosNewsLife that Pastor Lian, who is from Shannxi Province , was detained Monday, March 20, while leading a Bible study group of over 100 believers at a house church at Xiantao City .

CAA said it also learned that 15 other house church leaders, including a 15-year-old female evangelist, were still in detention following a police raid on a house church leaders meeting in Henan Province .

“All of the leaders were then taken into custody after the police searched them and confiscated any cash on them. 36 [church leaders] were released within 24 hours, three were released on March 18 and six were released on March 20. But 15 are still detained in various detention centers in different counties, CAA said adding that the whereabouts of six leaders are still unknown.

Three pastors detained at Mengzhou City Detention Center in Henan were identified as Mr. Li Dea, Mr. Xu Xuemin and Ms. Wang Xiaoai. The five detained at Nanle County Detention Center in Henan were Pastor Li Huimin, 50, Ms. Li Huimin, 23, Ms. Zheng Liting, 24, and Ms. Yue Jianghui, 19, and Ms Li Hongmin, 15. Pastor Fan Zhongyu, 60, is detained at Qingfeng County Detention Center in Henan Province , CAA claimed.

Among the six missing pastors was Ms. Ma Wenqing, 72, who was seen handcuffed and taken away because she hosted the meeting at her house in Zhangsi Village, CAA said. Her house was searched again by security officials Monday, March 20, CAA added. The others were identified as children workers Ms. Zhang Jinzhi, 44, Pastor Zhang Liang, 24, and pastors Ms. Zhang Suihong, 35, Ms. Xian Guirong, 38, and Ms. Wei Rongzhen, 43.

“Church leaders fear the reason these pastors are still missing maybe because they were beaten so severely that the police are trying to prevent family visits, CAA claimed.

Police apparently used electric shock batons at the police station. “One of the [released] leaders, 51-year-old Pastor Li Gongshe, still remains in Room 210 at the Mengzhou City Chinese Medical Hospital for treatment of a broken rib due to a beating by the police,” CAA said. One Christian woman, 21-year-old Shan Ailing, reportedly left her home “out of humiliation” as she was forced by police to strip during the interrogation at Wenquan Police Station in Chengguan Town of Henan Province’s Wen County .

“Two prominent human rights lawyers in Beijing agree to represent these persecuted church leaders. Sources say the pastors were accused of being members of an illegal evil cult”, CAA explained. CAA said the pastors are believed to be part of the Henan Fangcheng Mother Church group which is known as an evangelical house church group in China .

“This new raid is certainly a contradiction to the Chinese government’s [announced] commitment to religious freedom,” said CAA founder and former house church leader Bob Fu in a statement to BosNewsLife. “We urge [US] President [George W.] Bush to press the Chinese President Hu Jintao on the religious persecution issue when he pays his planned state visit to the White House next month.” He said CAA has urged the Chinese government to immediately release the pastors.

Chinese officials have not commented on the latest reported arrests. The Chinese government has denied religious rights abuses and recently condemned the annual report on human rights in China of the United States State Department. China says it only crackdown on what it calls “evil cults” and claims Christians are free to worship in the official churches.

Rights groups say however that most of the up to 80-million Christians in China prefer to gather in what are known as house churches, as they are forced to meet in homes because local authorities refuse to give them permission to gather in church buildings.