Shenzhen House Church Harassed, Closely Monitored During Anniversary Trip
09/19/2021 China (International Christian Concern) – A house church in China’s Shenzhen recently celebrated its five-year anniversary by taking a trip together. Little did they expect that some members would be threatened by the police beforehand and ended up not going, while the remaining group had their accommodation reservation forcibly canceled last minute due to police pressure.
Trinity Gospel Harvest Church in Guangdong province has been on the radar of local authorities, for the leaders of this house church signed “A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith” penned by well-known pastor Wang Yi, advocating for religious freedom. In addition, the church has attracted many activists which makes the government nervous. Cheng Yuan, a human rights defender, who was arrested for his NGO activities in 2019, also was a member of this church.
According to China Aid, in celebration of the church’s 5th anniversary on September 5, the church had planned a trip in Huizhou beach and booked a hotel for that weekend. Yet before the trip took place, the state security personnel had warned a few members not to participate, thus reducing the group size.
On September 4, after the group enjoyed their lunch, as they were about to move into their hotel, the owner suddenly informed them that he would refund them instead and can no longer allow them to stay there. His reason was that their pastor Mao Zhibin and four other Christians were already noted by the local police station, they would not be able to stay at any hotel.
The restaurant owner came to their aid and offered a villa to them, but the five Christians on the blacklist had a hard time finding a place to stay. All the local hotels were notified by the police of their status. Luckily, they soon found a place to dwell at a farmer’s home.
At 10 pm, those who stayed at the villa were visited by the police. Two officers checked everyone’s ID and forced those without IDs to stay elsewhere. The owner had to move them to other rooms before he was interrogated at the police station until 4 am the next day.
On September 5, the beach in Huizhou was filled with police, since the local authorities in Shenzhen and Huizhou had mistakenly assumed that the church was going to conduct baptism at the beach. The atmosphere was tense.
ICC has previously reported on the challenges faced by the Trinity Gospel Harvest Church. From their Zoom service being interrupted, to their church being raided and disbanded, it shows that any church considered outside of state control is not welcomed in China today.
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