In August, Elder Zhu Longfei of Shunde’s Shengjia Church was detained, Guangzhou’s Huajing Church was banned, and Meizhou’s New Hope Church was raided and sealed.
by Qi Junzao
The authorities in China continue to try, based on indications coming from Xi Jinping himself at the 2021 National Conference on Work Related to Religious Affairs, to compel house churches to join the government-controlled Three-Self Church—or else. A campaign against independent house churches has been conducted this month of August in Guangdong province.
Zhu Longfei, an elder of the Shengjia Church, located in the Shunde District of the prefecture-level city of Foshan, Guangdong, was detained on August 8. This is part of the calvary of Shengjia Church, which seems to have no end. The Shunde church was repeatedly “invited” to join the Three-Self Church and refused.
Devotees soon learned that their refusal came with a price. Their pastor Deng Yanxiang and Wang Weicai, a businessman who had left his professional activity to become a full-time church co-worker in 2016, were increasingly harassed by the police.
On May 24, 2023, the Shengjia Mutual Learning and Mutual Aid Center, i.e., the Bible study training class of the Shengjia Church, was raided by dozens of agents of the national security, the Shunde District Police, and the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau. The church teaching and study materials were confiscated, and the church was sealed. Pastor Deng Yanxiang, Wang Weicai, and church workers Zhu Jianglong and Sister Zhu Qiaoling were detained. On May 25, all four were charged by the Shunde District Police with “illegal business operations,” now a popular trumped-up charge against house church leaders.
On June 28, they were formally arrested by the Shunde District Procuratorate. Yet, the Shengjia Church continued to operate, led by Elder Zhu Longfei and other co-workers. As mentioned earlier, on August 8, Zhu Longfei was also detained by the Shunde District Police, accused himself of “illegal business operations,” and taken to the Nanhai District Detention Center in Foshan City, Guangdong, where the other leaders of the Shengjia Church had also been jailed.
On August 19, the Civil Affairs Bureau of Tianhe District, one of the eleven districts of Guangdong’s capital, Guangzhou City, issued a notice to ban Guangzhou Huajing Christian Church.
On August 20, 2023, as reported by local devotees through social media, the local police raided New Hope Church in the prefecture-level city of Meizhou, Guangdong, a city famously connected with the Hakka ethnic group. Two preachers were detained, and the church was sealed.