Hao Ying claims that the authorities refuse to schedule an appeal trial for her husband, Pastor Geng Zejun.
by Ma Wenyan
Rarely do relatives of victims of religious persecution speak out but this is what Hao Ying, the wife of Pastor Geng Zejun, did last week on WeChat. Not surprisingly, her posts that included a detailed reconstruction of Pastor Geng’s story, were promptly deleted.
Bitter Winter has reported in the past about the persecution of the Church of the Rock, a house church with a reformed theology located in the Huinong district of the prefecture-level city Shizuishan, the second largest city in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, located near the border with Inner Mongolia.
As his wife reports, Pastor Geng was born on July 31, 1972, in Shizuishan. He became the pastor of the Church of the Rock and made it into a popular house church with a Reformed theology. He consistently refused to affiliate it with the government-controlled Three-Self Church, which led to harassment and surveillance by the authorities.
In 2021, he was told that under the new regulations on religion regular meetings of his congregation every Sunday were not allowed. On December 5, 2021, the Church of the Rock was raided, and all these presents arrested, except the elderly.
Pastor Geng was placed in administrative detention for fifteen days for “disturbing the social order.” His wife Hao Ying and four church members were also placed in administrative detention.
After his release, he was summoned by the police on January 4, 2022, and then detained again for “financing and organizing illegal gatherings.” He was formally arrested on January 25.
He was tried on July 13 by the Huinong District Court of Shizuishan and sentenced on August 11 to one year and three months in prison for “organizing illegal gatherings.”
According to his wife, he has appealed but the court has so far refused to schedule an appeal date, claiming that his jail term will expire soon (in March 2023).
His case confirms that organizing church services for congregations that are not part of the Three-Self Church is now regarded as a crime, and pastors end up in jail.