Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: May 2, 2018
Bitter Winter has learned that on March 16, 2018, a leader of the Local Church whose pseudonym is Yang Zhi, 68 (we do not publish his real name following a request by his friends and family), has been arrested in the city of Suzhou in Anhui Province by the Chinese Communist Party’s SWAT police and remains in detention. His family is not able to see him. The Local Church is a network of communities inspired by the ministry of Chinese preacher Witness Lee (1905–1997).
On March 16, 2018, at around 12 a.m., Yang Zhi was heading toward his farmland with his little grandson. Three cars with the logo “SWAT” raced toward them and stopped right in front of Yang. Then, some fully armed police officers jumped out of the cars, arrested Yang and escorted him back home to search his house.
The police officers carried out a house search in Yang’s home and videotaped the process. Two copies of the Bible and a speaker were found and confiscated. Later, Yang was taken away by the police. Just as the cars were about to leave, Yang Zhi’s daughter came back after learning the news and took a picture of the cars’ number plates. However, this was noticed by a police officer in the car and her cellphone was snatched away.
After Yang’s arrest, his family has tried to save him through bribing the police and treating them to lavish meals. However, they still had not managed to see Yang even once. The police told them that Yang would be released soon if he “would confess everything,” or otherwise sentenced to prison.
Yang Zhi remains detained in Xiao County Detention Center, and his current legal situation is unknown.
Yang Zhi has been an active Christian for more than 30 years and is well-known among the house churches in the local area. In 1995, he had already been arrested because of his evangelistic activity, and had not been released until his family spent several thousand RMB to bail him out.