They first cut off the power supply, then terrorized the congregation. Two pastors were taken in for interrogation, threatened to give up their faith.
by Deng Jie
“Hurry up! Get inside!” police officers were shouting outside Le’en House Church’s meeting venue in the Tianhe district of Guangzhou, the capital of the southern province of Guangdong, on August 11, 2019. Members of the congregation inside were blocking the door, trying to prevent more than 30 officers from entering. They soon stormed in, pushing hard one of the believers who was guarding the entrance, fracturing his hand as a result.
Holding a copy of the new Regulations on Religious Affairs, one of the officers informed the congregation that someone had reported them as “a xie jiao holding illegal meetings.” After registering all their identity information, the police kicked all believers out of the church.
Minutes before the attack, while over 50 believers were attending the Sunday service, the power inside the church suddenly went off. A congregation member went outside to check what was happening and noticed officers getting ready to raid the venue. As they later learned, the local Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau, together with the sub-district office and the police, organized the operation.
Two church leaders were taken to the police station for interrogation. Threatened with fines from 50,000 to 200,000 RMB (about $ 7,000 to 28,000), they were forced to sign statements, promising never to organize religious gatherings.
After the raid, some believers stayed outside the church, praying. “We’re just ordinary people, mostly women and old people. We did nothing wrong,” one of them tried to reason with the officers, unable to hold back her tears. “Why do you persecute Christians so much? Why don’t you hunt for criminals instead?”
Since 2016, the government has been harassing the church by issuing a variety of warnings, driving out believers, and giving orders to remove the cross. Congregation members became very alert, taking all necessary precautions to protect their church: They kept an eye on newcomers, fearing that authorities have infiltrated them, soundproofed the building, and started organizing gatherings in smaller groups.
Video: Churchgoers are arguing with law enforcement officers.