10/31/2022 Thailand (International Christian Concern) – ICC is continuing to follow the story of the entire church congregation who left China due to religious persecution to seek asylum in South Korea. Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church, which is comprised of nearly 60 members, traveled to Thailand in late August to seek protection from religious persecution with the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.
The congregation left China between late 2019 and early 2020, settling in South Korea. However, when they did not receive refugee status in South Korea, they began to seek resettlement in the United States as another option.
During the last week of August, they submitted their UNHCR applications in Bangkok. The congregation had left South Korea and traveled to Thailand on 15-day tourist visas, hoping that their applications could be processed unprecedentedly quickly. Currently, they have not received word from UNCHR as to the status of their applications. They daily face the risk of deportation from the Thai government in addition to the threat of kidnapping by Chinese operatives in Bangkok.
Recently, the 60-member congregation released their statement of faith, outlining their beliefs and why they have chosen to flee China.
The statement, released on October 24, reads, “We are a group of Christians originally from Shenzhen, China, chosen by the Highest God to be His humble servants and glorious witnesses.
Since the PRC State Council promulgated the new Religious Affairs Regulation in September 2017 and since its implementation in February 2018, Christian churches across China have been subjected to varying degrees of persecution, defiance, and misunderstanding in their public worship and faith practices from government departments, even including various administrative measures that have attempted to transform and distort the Christian faith.
Some of these brutal actions were unprecedented since the end of the Cultural Revolution. Such actions include but are not limited to the tearing down of crosses from church buildings, violently interfering with expressions of faith such as crosses and spring scrolls hung and posted in Christian homes, forcing and threatening churches to join officially-controlled religious organizations, forcing churches to fly national flags or sing praises of secular states and political parties, forbidding the minor children of Christians from entering churches and receiving education about their faith, and depriving and outlawing churches and believers from meeting freely.
We believe that these unjust actions, which we have appealed to cease before the relevant public authorities, have brought Chinese society into a serious conflict between church and state. These actions are contrary to human freedom of faith and conscience and the universal principle of the rule of law.
For the sake of God’s glory, holiness, and justice, and for the sake of our faith and conscience, we left Shenzhen in October 2019 to apply for religious refugee status in Jeju, Korea, and in August 2022 to apply for religious refugee status in Thailand with the Bangkok office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The threat of persecution by the Chinese government has been constant since we left China and even more so since we arrived in Thailand. We are represented by lawyers, and our actions are protected by the UN Refugee Convention.
We believe that God will deliver us from the PRC government’s persecution. But even if the persecution continues or intensifies, we will never betray our faith. If we lose our freedom during the persecution, our words and actions are not in accordance with the case statement and are not voluntary but must be the result of persecution. We passionately believe that our lives belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, and we will not choose to commit suicide, no matter what the circumstances.
When we believe in God, Christianity is our first identity; and of all freedoms, freedom of religion is the first.
God commands, “Let my people go, that they may serve me.” (Exodus 5:1)
Three thousand four hundred years ago, the Israelites came out of Egypt.
Four hundred years ago, the Puritans came to Massachusetts on the Mayflower.
For over one hundred years, God has raised up many servants in the Chinese Church to be witnesses to the glory of the faith: Song Shangjie, Wang Mingdao, Zhao Junying, Wang Zhiming, Zhao Zhonghui, Wang Yi ……….
We are so humble, weak, and unworthy that God has graciously guided us to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors.
We confess that we are sojourners in this present world, pilgrims for faith and for Christ’s sake.
We are looking for a more beautiful home, which is in heaven.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!”
Please pray for the safety of the members of Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church.
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