Wang Changchun and others from the Living Stone Reformed Church were detained in April for “illegal business operations.” Now they are accused of a more serious crime.
by Wang Zhipeng
In the last month of April, Bitter Winter reported that on April 11 Pastor Wang Changchun was arrested while he was traveling in Lijiang, Yunnan province, and taken back to the prison of his home city of Bengbu, Anhui province.
Wang is the popular pastor of Bengbu Living Stone Reformed Church and a well-known dissident. In 2018, he was one of the house church leaders who signed the statement against the repressive 2017 Regulation on Religious Affairs drafted by Pastor Wang Yi of Chengdu’s Early Rain Covenant Church, later sentenced in 2019 to nine years in jail.
A statement dated August 18, 2023, by the Bengbu Living Stone Reformed Church was sent to “Bitter Winter” and other religious liberty media. It informs that the charge against Pastor Wang Yi has been changed by the Yuhui District People’s Procuratorate from “illegal business operations” to “fraud,” a crime that carries a higher maximum penalty, of seven years. Pastor Wang has been formally arrested.
Pastor Wang’s wife, Sister You Xiulin, and four co-workers have also been accused of “fraud” and arrested.
When Wang signed the statement against Xi Jinping’s new religious policies, he knew he would be in trouble, but he also knew he was signing a prophetic document. Unlike others, Wang understood that the era of tolerance for independent house churches was coming to an end. Either they join the government-controlled Three-Self Church, or their pastors and elders will end up in jail.