To drive believers into the state-run Protestant Church, the CCP threatens to take away their social benefits, shuts down and destroys meeting venues.
by Sun Kairui
Zhejiang Province: Over 3o venues shut down
On November 10, 2019, authorities shut down seven house church meeting venues in Longyou county of Quzhou, a prefecture-level city in the eastern province of Zhejiang, as “unlicensed” venues that “meet illegally” because they refused to join the state-controlled Three-Self Church.
According to a government insider, 11 of the 13 house church venues in Zhejiang’s Lishui city were shut down by November. A Sola Fide church in Bihu, a town in the city’s Liandu district, was persecuted as a banned religious group “funded by foreign investors” only because the venue was well-equipped and decorated nicely. Local government officials ordered the church to stop its gatherings and join the Three-Self Church. Reluctant to be controlled by the government, congregation members fled the area.
Between April and September, at least 16 house churches in Zhejiang’s Huzhou city were harassed by the government. In September, a meeting venue in the city’s Anji county, which could accommodate over 1,000 people, was demolished because it operated “without government approval.” The person in charge, threatened to be arrested if he continues organizing religious gatherings, was forced to write a statement promising not to do so in the future.
Henan Province: Believers forced to choose between state subsidies and faith
On December 8, government officials raided a house church in Dancheng county of Zhoukou, a prefecture-level city in the central province of Henan, threatening to “confiscate believers’ land and suspend their social benefits” if they didn’t stop attending religious gatherings. The venue was shut down.
A house church in the county-level city of Dengfeng was continuously monitored and repeatedly investigated in the past few years. In December, local government officials warned the person in charge not to hold religious gatherings at home. If he still did, his family would stop receiving the village committee’s benefits and other government subsidies. Having no choice, more than 20 congregation members started gathering in a dark, dirty cave house.
“The majority of my congregation members are elderly,” the church’s in-charge explained. “They are in poor health, and it’s difficult for them to move around or meet at night. We don’t know how long the persecution will last. It is so hard to believe in God in China!”
In October, a blind believer in her seventies from Fan county under the jurisdiction of Puyang city was reported to the police for organizing religious gatherings at home. “You don’t have nice words for the Communist Party who gives you a subsistence allowance. Go ask your God to bestow money upon you,” officials threatened the old woman, who stopped providing her place for meetings out of fear.
On November 17, four police officers raided a meeting venue of the Great Praise Church in Kaifeng city’s Weishi county. Having taken down the personal information of all believers, the officers took away two preachers, who were forced to sign statements promising not to hold worship services in the church again. Five days later, the town government arranged a bulldozer and an excavator to raze the meeting venue to the ground.
“Those officials were destroying our church like a pack of wolves. We have nowhere to worship now,” an elderly believer said in pain. “Whenever I remember the church being torn down, my heart always hurts. Where should I go to pray?”