Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: June 22, 2018
Last year, government officials in the township of Yugan in the city of Shangrao, Jiangxi Province, ordered a local Three-Self Church that belongs to the official united Protestant church controlled by the government, to tear down the cross on its roof because it was “too conspicuous from the road.” The members of the congregation refused and took turns protecting the church from a possible nighttime attack by the Communist Party law enforcement.
Around 6 p.m. on July 13, 2017, a township government official, 53-year-old Mr. Zhang, brought a group of people to the church and asked to be let inside. When a member of the congregation opened the door for them, they burst into the church and started to fiercely hammer on the metal door leading to the rooftop, eventually breaking it open. When they got to the roof, a few of them started pounding on the cross with hammers. The lawyer hired by the church rushed to the roof and asked why they were breaking in and destroying the cross. “Isn’t this what bandits do?” added the director. The imposters ignored him and continued tearing down the cross but were unsuccessful in removing it because of its sturdy structure.
The next morning, over 200 believers, having learned about the events of the previous night, spontaneously converged at the church to protect it. Seeing so many believers, the township official did not dare to proceed, and, around midday, the believers started to disperse. About 50 or 60 people remained to keep watch, and the official saw his chance to continue the destruction of the cross: he organized a group of over 60 or 70 local thugs to go to the church. The Christians were trying hard to block the stairs to the roof, but the thugs forcefully pushed them away and tore down the cross using sledgehammers and electric drills. A fight broke out between the two sides turning into chaos: some were fighting while others stood in the way to the cross trying to protect it. A 59-year-old woman was knocked unconscious and was sent to the hospital with a large wound on her head.
Along with the cross, the authorities with the help of local thugs took down from the church’s wall three brass Chinese characters “耶稣堂” meaning “the Church of Jesus.” After this incident, the congregation wanted to raise funds to erect a new cross but were threatened by the official that if they dared put up another one, the entire church would be demolished. They managed to collect over 100,000 RMB and sued the township government, but the government authorities would not hear the case.