Nanyang city authorities raided and closed down a meeting venue of the Great Praise house church after its leader refused to join the government-controlled Protestant Three-Self Church.
In August, officials from Nanyang city in the central province of Henan attempted three times to coerce the leader of the Great Praise house church to join the government-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement, threatening to demolish its meeting venue, but he refused.
Believers hold a gathering before the church was forcibly shut down:
To make their point, the local government hired more than 20 thugs to raid the church’s meeting venue, the Revival Hall, on the last day of the summer. The believers who were guarding the church were beaten up while trying to protect their place of worship. More members of the congregation showed up, and the imposters were forced to retreat.
But the authorities did not abandon their plans, and at 4 a.m. on September 5, about 300 personnel from the municipal Public Security Bureau, Urban Management Bureau, and other departments arrived at the Revival Hall in more than 20 vehicles. Police officers were stationed to guard every intersection leading to the church.
Government personnel raid the church in the early hours of the morning:
A government-hired locksmith opened the church door, while other personnel removed the church’s security cameras and cut off the power supply. Seventeen believers who were guarding the church at the time tried to call members of the congregation for back up but failed because the mobile reception has had been blocked.
Police officers stormed into the church, confiscated the believers’ cellphones and threatened to arrest them if they resisted. Despite the threats, the believers argued with the police but were arrested and taken to the village office.
Nearly 100 police officers remained at the church and tore down pictures and crosses from the walls and destroyed the lectern. They also confiscated the church’s Bibles and religious books, technical equipment, and all valuables they found in the church. According to a congregation member, the value of all items totaled about 100,000 RMB (about 14,880 USD).
Government personnel has locked and sealed off the doors to the church, and believers fear that it will soon be demolished.
An aggrieved believer, unable to hold the tears, said, “We lived frugally to donate for the construction of the church and managed to collect 600,000 RMB. It was so hard to build the church, and now the government has closed it down and took everything. Where will we hold our gatherings?”
Reported by Jiang Tao