China Security Forces Raid Home of House Church Missionary; Church Leaders Kidnapped

Friday, December 22, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Chinese police and an angry mob raided the home of a key house church missionary in Beijing and detained about a dozen believers after beating them and destroying furniture, family and investigators said Thursday, December 21.

News of the December 7, attack against missionary Xiu Ruibin was leaked on the eve of a high profile trial on Friday, December 22, involving eight Christian leaders accused of inciting violent resistance to the law after they protested the government's destruction of a church.

The seven men and one woman from east China's Zhejiang province were arrested after about 3,000 Christians in Xiaoshan, a prospering commercial suburb of the provincial capital Hangzhou, demonstrated against the demolition of the church in July.

Xiaoshan is home to tens of thousands of Protestant Christians, many of them traders or farmers wary of state control, church observers said. In recent years, they have apparently struggled with the government over approval to build their own churches.


Two Christians attempting to attend the trial, identified as Tu Shichang and Yu Fuliang, were "kidnapped" by a group of unidentified people on their way to the church, said advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA), which has close contacts with the Christians.

"Three days after their disappearance, the police informed their family members that both of them have been secretly held in a hotel, "CAA told BosNewsLife in a statement. Another church leader was reportedly put under house arrest in Xiaoshan.

CAA suggested that security forces use harsh methods against these and other Christians worshipping outside the government backed churches, a reference to the December 7 raid in the Beijing home of missionary Xiu.

"A few days before the attack, some ex-colleagues of Xiu in Heilongjiang province, who came to Beijing to complain to the Central Government about illegal actions of their local government, were physically attacked by unknown assailants. Xiu took them into her own home for their safety and to preach the gospel to them," CAA explained. However on December 7, "A group of policemen, led by officer An, came to Xiu's home to investigate. They threatened the guests and confiscated their ID cards."


Xiu allegedly protested to An as police did not show a search warrant. "In his anger An called several policemen and a gang of ruffians. Being afraid that her guests and her family would be hurt, she closed the iron door immediately and dialed 110," China's version of America 911 emergency phone number, the group said.

"But the iron door was quickly broken. The ruffians rushed into the home, destroyed all the electrical appliances and the furniture. Xiu's six-year old daughter was terrified and cried. About a dozen Christians were taken away," the group added.

The police allegedly threatened the Christians with guns. This was not an isolated incident. Her house church was reportedly frequently raided by police. .

In remarks seen by BosNewsLife, Xiu's husband, Zhang Honggang, said he is "very worried" about the safety of his wife and other family members "because historically any one who offends a police officer in charge of their area can not expect to live in peace." He said he had asked "the brothers and sisters in Christ to pray" for them at a time when he has no money to hire a lawyer to ask a court to ensure his family's safety.


In a separate incident CAA said it established that Shanghai House Church Leader Wang Mingwei was interrogated again December 12, by the regional Public Security Bureau and released. December 13 and 14, his girl friend was allegedly pressured to Abandon her Christian faith and discontinue her relationship with Wang by security guards and her forces and her boss. Their house church was raided December 9, 2006, CAA said.

"What has happened to the house church in Beijing, the host city of the 2008 Olympic Games and the capital of China, is a shame, " said CAA President Bob Fu, a former house church pastor. "The upcoming pre-Christmas trial of the innocent Christian leaders in Zhejiang will be regarded by the international community as a litmus test for religious freedom and the rule of law in China," he added.

Chinese officials have not yet reacted to the latest claims. There are an estimated 80 million Christians in China, most of them worshipping outside the official denominations. China's ruling Communist Party is officially atheist and only tolerates religions that accept official supervision. (With BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos and reports from China).

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