The preacher of the Church of the Rock in Shizuishan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, remains in jail and may be sentenced in July.
by Ma Wenyan
Readers of Bitter Winter may remember the story of Pastor Geng Zejun, from the remote Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, whose name comes from the Hui Muslims, which represent roughly 33% of the region’s population.
There are, however, Christians too. The Church of the Rock is a house church in the Huinong district of the prefecture-level city Shizuishan, the second largest city in the region, located in the north of the autonomous region, near the border with Inner Mongolia. The Church has a reformed theology and consistently refused to join the government-controlled Three Self Church.
On December 5, 2021, a church service was raided by the police of the Huinong district accompanied by officers of the administration of religious affairs, and Pastor Geng Zejun was detained together with his wife and several other devotees. Pastor Geng got fifteen days of administrative detention for “disturbing the social order.” His wife Hao Ying and four other Christians— Luo Shiping, Ye Ningfang, Zhu Junying, and Wang Sufang—got ten days of administrative detention.
After they were released, however, they continued their meetings. On January 4, 2022, Pastor Geng was called by the police for questioning. He did not come home, and his family was told that he was kept in detention for “organizing illegal religious gatherings.”
On January 25, he was formally arrested. He was accused of organizing unauthorized Christian gatherings in different parts of the region. The prosecutor of the Huinong District Court informed him that he was regarded as a main organizer of illegal religious activities in the region.
He has been committed to trial and his sentencing has been scheduled for July 13, although the date can still change. Pastor Geng remains imprisoned in the Shizuishan City Detention Center, Nongzhi Branch.