07/30/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – On July 13, Chinese officials at Huinong District Court reviewed Preacher Geng Zejun’s case following his formal arrest in January.
The pastor and members of Panshi Church, located in Shizuishan, Ningxia province, came under scrutiny in December of last year when officials and personnel from the Religions Affairs Bureau raided a worship service held at the church. Officials detained and questioned attendees who were not registered with the state. Church members were charged with holding an ‘illegal Christian gathering’ which ‘severely [disrupted] the social order.’
Preacher Geng’s wife and five other members were detained for ten days. Meanwhile, Preacher Geng was detained the day after incident for 15 days.
After his release, officials apprehended the preacher again in early January, this time for ‘organizing and sponsoring illegal gatherings.’ Preacher Geng was formally arrested on January 25 and has been waiting for his trial.
In total, the trial lasted seven hours while Preacher Geng remained in the detention center. Officials reported that the church leader refused to cooperate with them and denied that he was guilty of any crime. His wife, Hao Ying, did not attend the trial, but she thanked everyone who was praying for her husband.
Preacher Geng’s sentence is expected to come in approximately two weeks.
It is widely known that Preacher Geng and his congregation refuse to join the state-vetted Three-Self Patriotic Movement – a government-controlled Christian congregation that follows the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ideology. Church members’ refusal to register allows for heavy government monitoring and harassment. The punitive measures officials take against Christians question the state’s adherence to its Constitution which guarantees religious freedom in China.
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