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01/12/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – On January 7, Fenyang city court in Shanxi province sentenced five Christians from a house church in Taiyuan to more than six months of imprisonment.

Arrested and detained for attending a 2020 Christian conference in Malaysia, Zhang Ligong, Wang Runyun, Wang Shiqiang, Zhang Yaowen, and Song Shoushan from Xuncheng Reformed Church were sentenced to six months, seven months (two of them), and eight months (two of them) respectively.

Those who were sentenced to six months will be released on January 28, while the other ones are scheduled to be released on February 28 and March 28.

According to China Aid, their case was first opened on December 28, 2021. Their lawyers and family members also attended the trial, although no verdict was announced. Their family members said the five are doing well and have joy in their hearts. They even shared the Gospel with the judge during the trial and gave everyone in attendance an opportunity to know God.

Their preacher, An Yankui, along with church member Zhang Chenghao, was also detained on November 21 last year for “illegal border crossing.” In January 2020, the seven attended the “KL2020 Gospel and Culture” conference in Malaysia, where influential speakers such as Pastor Tim Keller and Pastor D.A. Carson spoke. Though they departed and returned to China through customs with their passports, the Chinese government still regarded their trip as illegal and hit them with fabricated charges.

Beijing has been wary of foreign influence since President Xi Jinping came into power. Religions that are seen as foreign, such as Islam and Christianity, are treated with more scrutiny and tightened control. Under the latest legal framework, exchange and communication between Chinese churches and overseas Christian communities need to be pre-approved by the government.

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