Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: May 20, 2018
On April 16, 2018, a township government in the city of Shangqiu, Henan, forcibly demolished a church under the excuse of building a culture square.
At around 4 p.m., two excavators parked in front of the church, where the town Party secretary and village officials at all levels were present. They dispatched the entire force from the police station to arrest Christians who dared to obstruct the event. Nobody was allowed to take pictures on the scene.
Later, a local government official ordered the excavator drivers to start the destruction and, soon, the church was laid to waste. Seeing their church in ruins, elder Shi and believers were indignant, tears welled up in their eyes, but they did not dare to say anything.
Local officials have previously repeatedly informed elder Shi about their plan to build a culture square and asked that the believers destroyed the church themselves. Shi did not agree and organized Christians to stay in the church, praying and protecting it from being forcibly demolished. On the day of the destruction, only Shi and a few Christians were guarding the church, so the government and the police saw the chance and carried out the destruction.
“The government now imposes tight control over believers in God. The Party secretary of the area has announced in the church that believers must not host meetings at home, or, once discovered, they would be arrested immediately. He also said that pastors must hold a sermon certificate and a baptism certificate, and evangelists must have an evangelism certificate,” a believer told Bitter Winter. “Children and teenagers under 18 are not allowed to attend church meetings and will be prosecuted and sentenced for breaking the law if they were to be found doing so. We can no longer put up pictures of the cross at home, but only portraits of Chairman Mao. The government even warned those elder believers that people who received subsistence allowance must not love the Lord, but the country.”