The shutdown of a Shandong church has left over 70 deaf Christians without a place to worship.
In May, the Good New Church in Shandong’s Qingdao city received a notice from the Qingdao Municipal Bureau of Religious Affairs and the Public Security Bureau that the church had to stop holding gatherings. The notice also ordered the church administration to apply for government licenses to join the state-sanctioned Protestant Three-Self Church or face 50,000 RMB (about 7,300 USD) in fines.
The Good News Church was a church for deaf believers. More than 70 Christians congregated there regularly. The pastor was the 77-year-old Wang Xin, who was also the church’s founder. She was born in Qingdao and grew up in a Christian household, but is now a citizen of Taiwan where she studied theology for more than ten years and holds a post-graduate level pastoral certificate. That was one of the reasons the authorities were harassing the church. The authorities did not recognize Ms. Wang’s Taiwanese license as a pastor and instead forced her to get a Chinese license, which she declined. She also refused to apply to join the Three-Self movement.
The next day, authorities forcibly shut down the church and intentionally destroyed the venue to deprive churchgoers of their congregation place. Worse still, they cannot attend any other church due to their hearing impairment. Pastor Wang’s church was the only place in the area for them to practice their faith.
At the moment, the 70 believers have been divided into smaller groups and attend other house churches with Pastor Wang.
As per insider sources, the Good News Church has always been on the target. Even when it was set in 2005, the authorities monitored Pastor Wang’s cell phone and kept a close watch of proceedings at the church.
In June, the Chinese government hosted in Qingdao the summit of the Council of Heads of State of the “Shanghai Cooperation Organization,” a regional economic, political, and security alliance. Before the meeting, the provincial authorities issued an order that Christians in Shandong had to be monitored and captured for the aim of “maintaining social stability.” And so, the authorities did not spare even the deaf believers of Good News Church.
Reported by Jiang Tao
Jiang Tao (uses pseudonyms for security reasons), aged 42, is from Henan Province. He previously served as a magazine editor and has long been concerned about vulnerable groups that are being persecuted in China. He has written a variety of commentaries probing human rights issues in China, and his articles have been published in international journals. After leaving his magazine job in 2015, he started visiting and interviewing persecuted religious groups and other vulnerable groups and gathering information about incidents. He joined Bitter Winter in 2018, and since then is dedicated to reporting the persecution incidents in Henan, Shanghai, Anhui, and other regions.