China (MNN) — The Chinese government appears to be making a move to pressure house churches to close their doors. Christians believe this may only be the beginning. China Aid Association gives an example of what happened a few days ago.
Founder and President of China Aid Bob Fu says, "A crowd of strangers, arranged by the Chinese government, violently broke down the door to a Christian vocational school in Beijing."
The training school was located in the home of Brother Xu and provided training in basic job skills used for tent-making ministry, says Fu.
According to the prayer request sent by members of the Tent-makers Christian Fellowship in Beijing, local officials "swarmed into the living room with overwhelming scolding and commanded that [Brother Xu] should stoop down, as about twenty people entered the living room, some with uniforms and some without." Their uniforms and self admissions confirmed that the crowd included men from the local Public Service Bureau (PSB), National Security Bureau, and the Religious Affairs Bureau.
According to the Fellowship, Brother Xu was commanded to show the officers the rooms in his home and surrender the training materials produced by ministry. "Brother Xu would not comply with their commands and replied "Who are you for me to obey you? I am a legal residence of Beijing and a child of God." He was not intimidated and pressed on the issue of legality. Brother Xu demanded that they show him the warrant for the raid, which they could not furnish. Some left for an hour or so and returned without the warrant, while the others kept questioning brother Xu and threatening him with violence. He refused to cooperate based on the illegality of their actions. Someone without uniform warned brother Xu that printing Bible verses and messages on scrolls and tote-bags is illegal and threatened to confiscate them. Brother Xu refused them entry into the rooms without the certified paper work."
Without proof of a warrant, the officials reportedly "left without taking anything but warned they would return to confiscate the allegedly illegal training materials, although they did not do so that day. They further threatened Brother Xu and suggested he move away from Beijing to the Hebei province."
Brother Xu is a faithful member of The Tent-makers Christian Fellowship in Beijing. The Tent-makers Christian Fellowship is led by internationally known Beijing house church rights defender Pastor Hua Huiqi. Pastor Hua and members of his family have been arrested and tortured numerous times for his leadership in defending the basic rights and freedom of vulnerable people. His 79-year-old Christian mother, Ms. Shuang Shuying, finished her two-year sentence for her human rights defense work in February, 2009. Forced to leave Beijing in August, Pastor Hua is currently being held on a "forced vacation" in Shanxi province by the Beijing PSB, in order to show the "stability of Beijing" during the 60th anniversary of the CPC rule in China.
Fu says, "This is part of the so-called pre-60th Congress Party Rule anniversary crackdown. Other churches were also pressured to stop their worship services or their rental buildings were asked to cancel [the churches'] contracts."
"It's not because of any so-called illegal printing work. It's simply the government didn't like their freedom of worship," says Fu.
The members of the Tent-makers Fellowship request prayer for their ministry and for the salvation of the officials who have violated their rights: "Please pray for the evangelism of China and the effectiveness of the Tent-makers Fellowship in spreading the Gospel, as well as living with Biblical human dignity and rights in God's image for everyone."
ChinaAid also recently learned that the owner of Xu's rental apartment, under severe pressure from the PSB, told Xu to move out of the apartment within the next few days.
ChinaAid urges the international community to pressure the Beijing government to stop persecuting its citizens who are legally practicing religious freedom, by abiding its constitutional promise and international obligations.
To contact the Chinese Embassy with your concerns;
Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong
3505 International Place, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 495-2000
Fax: (202) 588-9760