Thailand (MNN) — The church that voted to leave China is now in Thailand, hoping to secure refugee status through the United Nations. The Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church, also dubbed “Mayflower Church,” is looking for religious refuge in the United States as its members face persecution from China’s government.
Even in Thailand, believers cannot escape government spies. “They have been watched; they have been followed; back home in China, their families have been visited by the police,” Todd Nettleton with The Voice of the Martyrs USA says.
“The pressure they’re facing from the Chinese government is very real.”
Like a modern-day exodus, more than 60 believers left China in late 2019 to escape persecution and find a place where they could freely worship God. “They looked at what was happening in China with the crackdown against unregistered churches and, as a congregation, they decided to leave,” Nettleton says.
Working closely with U.S. officials, China Aid is trying to secure entry for the persecuted Christians. Learn how you can help here.
If you live in the U.S., consider contacting your elected representatives. “Our leaders, who at least in theory work for us voters, need to know what reality is for Christians in China,” Nettleton says.
“Hopefully, as they have opportunities, they (U.S. officials) can press the Chinese government for more religious freedom, more protection of our Christian brothers and sisters there.”
Ask the Lord to encourage members of the Mayflower Church. Taking a bold stand like this is not easy. “Every time [believers] say, ‘There’s not religious freedom; we had to flee the country to practice our faith,’ that is an embarrassment to the Chinese government,” Nettleton says.
“Even as they’re cracking down on unregistered churches all over the country, they (the government) still want to claim ‘Oh, no, there’s religious freedom in China.’ They see this church as a big defeat to the whole mythology.”
“The Voice of the Martyrs USA works directly with Christians in China. One significant way is by providing Bibles. The state printing press prints a certain number of Bibles, but it is not nearly enough for the number of Christians in China. [VOM helps] to fill that gap,” Nettleton says.
“We also support Christians facing persecution, provide legal representation for Christians who have been arrested and charged with a crime; just really coming alongside and helping in practical ways.”
Header image depicts Pastor Pan, leader of the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church. (Photo courtesy of China Aid)