Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: June 16, 2018
Bitter Winter has received reports of continuous harassment of communities of the Shouters, Christians, in the tradition of Chinese preachers Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, that the Chinese Government has been targeting for a long time. Christians in the same tradition are known in the West as the Local Church.
On a Sunday afternoon in June 2016, Christians from the Shouters church in the city of Huai’an, Jiangsu Province, were having a meeting, when more than 20 policemen from the Chengnan police station of Xuyi County rushed in and locked the door. The police searched each room, throwing things on the floor. Accusing the Christians of “unlawful gathering,” the police confiscated all the religious materials and arrested five of them, and took them to the Chengnan police station.
The police interrogated the arrested Shouters on what they believed in and who their leader was, to which the Christians replied, “We are believers in the Lord, and it is the Lord Jesus who leads us.” The police forced them to deny God and relinquish their faith. When their effort failed, the police detained them at the police station and only released them the following day.
After the arrest of the five Shouters, the local authorities intensified the suppression and persecution of their house churches. One of the measures was the display of slogans and banners calling to crack down on the Shouters in a local park. The believers, fearing persecution, had to constantly change their meeting venues, not being able to inform the congregation where and when they were gathering. They would notify believers to meet at certain street corners on the day of the gathering and bring them to the venue.
The secrecy did not help – the police managed to infiltrate an informant into the group. A woman who often came to the gatherings turned out to be a police agent, assigned to monitor the Shouters and arrest them when the moment was right.
Having found out about the informant, the believers had to change the gathering place again and move it to the home of one of the believers. This did not help either, since quite soon, the police broke into the house of this 50-year-old believer, claiming that someone had reported her home as a gathering venue. They recorded the names and ID numbers of the believers who were there at the time, threatening and intimidating them before finally leaving.
Bitter Winter reports on how religions are allowed, or not allowed, to operate in China and how some are severely persecuted after they are labeled as “xie jiao,” or heterodox teachings. We publish news difficult to find elsewhere, analyses, and debates.
Placed under the editorship of Massimo Introvigne, one of the most well-known scholars of religion internationally, “Bitter Winter” is a cooperative enterprise by scholars, human rights activists, and members of religious organizations persecuted in China (some of them have elected, for obvious reasons, to remain anonymous).