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ICC Note: Xi’an (Zion) Church, the largest house church in Beijing, had its electricity and water turned off by the government after it refused to have surveillance cameras installed in the sanctuary and the overflow room. Many fear that the government is testing this tactic and might apply it to larger scale.    

04/16/2018 China (China Aid) – In order to keep a close watch on Christianity, Beijing has required surveillance cameras should be installed at house churches after the project was run in Zhejiang province.

Xi’an church, an independent house church in Beijing, was forcibly installed with surveillance cameras by a governmental department despite their dissent. The church rents a place for fellowship and worship lawfully. However, water was cut off and the elevator was out of service because they rejected government’s decision. Electricity may be shut off, too.

On April 16 Xi’an Church sent an urgent prayer request to the congregation. The email wrote, “Water has been cut off and elevator has been out of service since this noon because our church does not allow surveillance cameras to be installed in the sanctuary located on the 3rd floor in Longbaochen and the meeting place. Power may go out anytime as well.”

Pastors and ministers of Xi’an Church have been discussing how to react. At this point, the church’s ministry has not been affected. Rather, the church has planned on a new event, “Walking Worshippers”. Details are not available yet. The email wrote, “All are invited to Walking Worshippers scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. May the LORD be glorified during the dark time. Amen.”

Guo Xijun, pastor of Beijing Endao Church, commented, ”Government may test water by installing cameras in Xi’an Church. If Xi’an Church could not respond properly, it is likely that it will happen to other house churches in Beijing.”

Pastor Guo Xijun analyzed pros and cons of surveillance cameras, “It is hard to say what is the advantage. It may publicize our faith. Faithful believers would be more steadfast. The disadvantages include a) No worshipping freedom. If the service at church is monitored, some Christians who are weak in faith may not attend it any more as feeling threatened. b) Loss of safety and security. Cameras will record everything that happens in the church. That said, the personnel, finance and administration of the church will be intervened to some extent since government is able to collect more evidence. ‘He who has a mind to beat his dog will easily find his stick.’’It is an evil omen to fish if the pool is inspected.’ Also, it is a challenge and trial to Christians having federal positions or working for state-owned enterprises.

Pastor Guo Xijun summarized government’s purposes of installing surveillance cameras at house church, deeming it as an evil. He said, “This is an extremist act by authorities who do not control their power. The rationale is to intimate and dominate. Some Christians said that we need neither worry nor fear. True, we fear nothing because we already commit our life to the Lord. Nevertheless, if we obey the notorious evil without thinking and seeking God’s wisdom, it would be dangerous and we are irresponsible either.”

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For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]