04/12/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – On April 3, Chinese police raided a house church during a Sunday service and detained seven Christians for allegedly violating pandemic rules prohibiting gatherings. The incident took place at Zion Reformed Church, which is in Shanxi province in northern China.
After storming into the church meeting on April 3, the police asked members to show their health codes and journey codes to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the Xiaodian district. Though the 21 adults and seven children present tested negative, they were not allowed to leave immediately.
Soon afterward, a contingent of 20 policemen arrived and took away seven Christians to the Yingze District Bureau of Public Security.
Church members told the news site China Aid that all the detainees were handcuffed and transported to a detention center where they were allegedly asked to sign a pledge entitled “No Longer Attend Zion Church,” which they all refused.
Police had sought a 15-day administrative detention for the Christians but could not enforce it due to pandemic rules. Instead, the Christians were asked to pay a fine of 500 yuan ($79 USD) each, which they refused. Their mobile phones were subsequently confiscated.
Those arrested were released the next day following an interrogation. During the interrogation, the Christians were forced to take off their clothes and wear prisoner uniforms. Police then recorded their biological data like blood, urine, voice, appearance, and fingerprints.
The church members detained on April 3 included Yao Congya, the wife of pastor An Yankui. ICC reported that, in 2020, Pastor An was jailed along with five members of the church for attending a religious conference in Malaysia. He is still in prison.
After Pastor An’s arrest, authorities shut down the church, but the members continued to be in touch with each other and secretly attended informal gatherings. Police forced those arrested on April 3 to sign a Notice of Administrative Detention Penalty Decision that stated they had joined an illegal gathering after Zion Reformed Church was shut down last year.
Wang Yingjie, one of the Christians who endured the ordeal, thanked God for giving him the courage to fight for faith.
“Thank the Lord for letting us fight for our faith. Compared with saints martyred for the truth, our hardship is tiny. We have no idea how they will treat us in the future. May the Lord have mercy on this small church, and may the Lord use His children! Brothers and sisters, please pray for us!” Wang said after the release.
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