Chinese Pastor on the Run

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

(Voice of the Martyrs) -- A Chinese house church leader is on the run from Public Security Bureau officers after his church was raided February 9.

Chu Wei, age 40, leads a group of over 50 house churches in China. He and his wife, Yin Yan-ling, 37, were among 12 people arrested when PSB officers raided their church in Huaibei City, Anhui Province. The twelve were held all day and interrogated by police, who did not allow them food or water, or even to use the toilet. Then officers asked the Christians to sign a form renouncing their faith and their attendance at “evil cult” gatherings. Some signed the documents. All twelve people were released later that day.

PSB officers raiding the church did not present search warrants or any documentation to arrest the Christians.

The next day, Feburary 10, Yin was again taken to the police station for questioning. She was ordered by officers not to talk about God—even in the family’s home. She also heard police say that her husband would be sent to a camp for so-called “re-education through labor.”

When police allowed Yin to leave, she immediately warned her husband, and the two of them went into hiding at an undisclosed location. Their two oldest children, a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, remained in the family home, and reported that PSB officers came every night at midnight to question them and ask where their parents are. Chu and Yin’s youngest child, age 11, is staying with relatives.

The Voice of the Martyrs learned this week that Yin had returned home to her children, but Chu remains in hiding from police. Religious Affairs Bureau officers want the church leader to register his meetings with the government.

“This is reality for most of China’s Christians,” said Todd Nettleton of The Voice of the Martyrs. “The government wants to control religion, while the unregistered churches give their first loyalty to Christ. It’s time for the world to know that religious freedom in China is a myth.”

Also in China, three house church Christians are facing a trial for allegedly “providing intelligence to overseas organizations.”

The charges were brought against Liu Fenngang, Xu Yonghai and Zhang Shengqi in the Zhejiang provincial capital of Hangzhou. Police detained Liu, who was based in Beijing, in October while he was researching a crackdown on Christian groups in Hangzhou’s Xiaoshan district. Xu and Zhang were active members of Liu’s house church. Authorities detained Xu, a psychiatrist, in Beijing last November. Zhang, an internet writer, was arrested in Jilin province the same month.

Liu’s wife, Bi Yuxia, has received official notification of the charges by phone, so lawyers are working on behalf of her husband even though no trial date has been announced.

“There are no state secrets in this story,” said Nettleton. “These men were arrested for telling the truth about how their government treats Christians. The government does not want that truth to be known.”

The Voice of the Martyrs urges Christians around the world to protest these spurious charges. Christians in the US should protest to the Chinese embassy in Washington DC