Pressuring to join the state-approved church, authorities installed surveillance cameras and stationed police officers to intimidate the pastor and believers.
Sola Fide (justification by faith) house churches are increasingly persecuted in China, numerous places of worship being raided and closed down, forcing the members of this conservative Protestant community to flee the country.
A college teacher from Xiamen, a port city in southeastern Fujian Province, is also a Sola Fide pastor who resides in an apartment on the premises of one of the church’s meeting venues. At the end of last year, the police installed two high-definition surveillance cameras in the corridor outside her residence: one aimed at the stairwell of the floor on which she resides and the other directly facing the door to her home.
While under surveillance, members of the congregation had to work their way around the cameras by changing their meeting time and place.
On May 7, the local police installed two more cameras outside the pastor’s residence to enhance the monitoring. One camera was installed around the corner of the stairs on the floor where she lives and the other – on the terrace upstairs. The forcible installation of the cameras not only hindered regular religious activities but also violated the basic privacy of the people.
The pastor posted a comment online: “Let me show the high-level security at my home. The four HD surveillance cameras were installed for free. I’m merely a teacher, yet enjoy such high-level protection. Where is the law?”
Four days later, more than ten police officers set up checkpoints at all doors on the first floor of the building where the meeting venue is located and in the underground garage to inspect ID cards and register the information of every person who enters or exits, using portable devices to verify data accuracy. Afterward, every weekend, the police came to the meeting venue to monitor the movement of people. According to an inside source, every believer whose information was registered received harassing calls from government officials.
Under surveillance and pressure from the police, the believers were forced to disband.
On May 19, the pastor and her husband were at home playing the piano and singing hymns praising the Lord when more than ten officials from the Religious Affairs Bureau and the Public Security Bureau entered their home from the terrace on the top floor and pressured the couple to join the government-controlled Three-Self Church. Despite repeated pressure from the government, the pastor has not compromised to date.
On March 31 this year, Zion Church, a Sola Fide church located in Yongxiu county under the jurisdiction of Jiujiang city in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, was threatened by the Religious Affairs Bureau for refusing to join the Three-Self Church. Officials said that if the church continued to organize gatherings, force would be used to deal with believers. As a result, more than 300 believers were forced to disperse.
In January 2018, authorities used explosives to demolish Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen city in the northern province of Shanxi.