By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
BEIJING, CHINA (Worthy News)-- Authorities in China’s Sichuan province have asked a large house church to stop all its activities, the church's pastor told Radio Free Asia.
“The authorities have asked us to end our family church congregations, calling our gatherings 'illegal,'" said Pastor Li, spiritual head of a 1,500-member house church in Sichuan’s Langzhong city.
Li said the government's "request" was sent to the home of a church member, not the church's meeting place.
Chinese authorities have recently increased restrictions on house churches whose total membership they estimate to be about 40 million.
On May 5, a house church in Shijiazhuang in Hebei province was disrupted by police who took worshippers’ names and then told them to pray only at government-approved churches.
“The severity of the crackdown on family churches varies in different places,” said Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese Association of Christian Family Churches. “In places where there are many family churches, the local government may have a better understanding of them, and officials will be more prudent. But in places where you have only a few believers, local authorities will treat them as an ‘evil cult.’”