China (MNN) — Pastor Shi Enhao, 55, was recently sentenced to serve two years of hard labor in a Chinese labor camp.
Voice of the Martyrs, Canada (VCM) reports that China has been cracking down on house churches, and Pastor Shi's Chinese House Church Alliance came into police sights.
According to VCM's source–China Aid Association, Pastor Shi was first detained by police on May 31 in the coastal Jiangsu province. He was held for 12 days and then re-detained on June 21 by the Suqian Public Security Bureau.
When given his two-year labor camp sentence, Pastor Shi was charged with "illegal meetings and illegal organizing of venues for religious meetings."
Two years of "re-education through labor" is an extra-judicial punishment that can be sentenced by Chinese police without conviction of crime, trial or review by a judge.
Usually those given this sentence are either minor criminal offenders or members of religious groups police deem rebellious–mostly Christians.
Chinese House Church Alliance is made up of several thousand believers and meets in several locations around the eastern city of Suqian.
This is not the first time the church has been targeted. Pastor Zhang "Bike" Mingxuan, the chairman of Chinese House Church Alliance, has also been arrested several times.
In addition to the recent arrest of Pastor Shi, police ordered the church to stop all congregational meetings. They confiscated the church's car, choir robes, musical instruments and funds amounting 140,000 yuan ($20,900 CAD).
Pastor Shi's three daughters and their husbands have also been threatened by police. His son, Shi Yongyang, is in full-time ministry and was required to go to the police station to sign his father's sentencing paperwork.
Please pray for Pastor Shi's family as they struggle with a husband and father's prison sentence. Pray also that Pastor Shi would have the joy of the Holy Spirit in the midst of trial and would use this opportunity to minister to his inmates.