Chen Lijun was detained in August. His wife reports he is still in jail, and his family is in desperate conditions.
by Lei Shihong
Last week, a woman called Li Xiaoyan circulated among Christian house churches an appeal about the situation of her husband, preacher Chen Lijun, and her family.
Chen Lijun lived in Luoyang, a prefecture-level city in Henan province. He was detained on August 13 and formally arrested on August 27. The main charge against him is that he has purchased Christian books online without authorization.
His wife reports that without her husband, who remains in jail, the situation of her family is desperate. They should support two elderly parents, both suffering from cancer. Li Xiaoyan’s health is also precarious, and the family should now survive with her monthly salary of some 2,000 yuan, less than 300 US dollars.
The arrest of Chen Lijun is another example of how, when the 20th Congress of the CCP was being prepared, public security throughout the country detained a large number of pastors and co-workers of house churches, sending a message that “illegal” religion should become invisible around the dates of the Congress.
Another pastor in Henan, Yang Jianxin, had his sentence of 5 and a half years of prison confirmed on appeal last month. The accusation was that he had printed Bibles without authorization.
The CCP understands that strictly controlling Christian literature and its distribution is an effective way of limiting the activities of the house churches. It is also a step toward the aim indicated by Xi Jinping of completely eradicating the congregations that refuse to join the government-controlled Three-Self Church and continue to operate independently.