Officials have been working in the background to sustain a conflict between believers and local villagers. Because of this, a government-controlled Three-Self church remains closed today.
In March, when a government official was on inspection in Linfen city’s Xiangning county of the northern province of Shanxi, he was enraged to see a newly built Three-Self church in the area.
To appease the official, his subordinates began to instigate the non-Christian residents of the village to force the believers to shut down their church. The local officials were successful in their quest, and soon, the villagers resented the church and the believers.
To express their contempt, they filled up more than ten trucks with dirt and dumped it in front of the church. They also put up a banner saying, “Make the church move out of our village.”
On May 19, nearly 60 villagers blocked the believers who had just arrived at the church. The impasse led to a scuffle in which two believers were injured. The believers rang up the police to seek their help, but the officers refused to intervene. Instead, they warned them against entering the church in the future.
That evening, when several church deacons sent food for the believers, the villagers wouldn’t let them have it and instead beat up a believer. He remained unconscious for several hours.
Given the difficult situation, the believers decided to retreat for a while. By July, they felt that things had cooled down and they could go back to their church. But the officials once again used the villagers for their purpose. The villagers felt encouraged by their words and so, locked up the doors of the church and refused to let believers enter.
Today, the church remains closed. The believer who is in charge of the church said that while he doesn’t want to get into a conflict with the villagers, the church has no help from the authorities. The officials always go behind their backs to sabotage them to attack their religious belief.
Reported by Feng Gang