A Local Church preacher and five other Christians were arrested; the preacher has been kept in custody for over eight months.
On November 19, Li Huazhang’s, 76, a preacher of a Local Church and five other Christians were arrested in Fuyang city, Anhui Province, on November 19, 2017. The Local Church is an international Evangelical Christian group founded in the 1930s in China, where they are also known as the “Shouters,” for their practice of calling the name of the Lord out loud.
Christians Song Li, Min Xiao, and Shi Jing were arrested for their faith following a police tip-off. After 4 a.m., four officers from Zaozhuang police station in Fuyang came to apprehend the three women, one after another. They then drove to the homes of Li Huazhang and another Christian, Guo Tai, capturing both of them as well as Li’s wife. After taking the six Christians to the police station for questioning, they forced them to sign documents and put the case on file. The next day, four officers once again barged into Li Huazhang’s home; they found Bibles and books on one of the most prominent Local Church teachers, Witness Lee, confiscating a total of 1,283 books.
Families of the arrested used connections to secure the release of Shi Jing, Guo Tai, and Li Huazhang’s wife the next day at 6 p.m. Min Xiao, Song Li, and Li Huazhang were detained in the Fuyang detention center. Min Xiao and Song Li were released after 15 days, but Li Huazhang remains in custody.
Concerned for his advanced age and ailing health, Li Huazhang’s family spent over 100,000 RMB to get him released through connections but were unable to, because he was accused of believing in a xie jiao, a heterodox teaching. Being active in a xie jiao is a crime punished by article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code with a jail penalty of three to seven years or more.
Li Huazhang has now been in custody for over eight months, and his family has been barred from seeing him.
All names are pseudonyms
Reported by Jiang Tao