Pastor arrested, church building destroyed in Zhejiang, China

Monday, April 19, 2004

April 19, 2004 (Voice of Martyrs) -- A 100-year-old building that housed an unregistered Chinese house church was badly damaged on March 11, then completely destroyed March 31. The church was located in Dong Gang Xi village, Beilun District, Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province. This congregation included about 300 members, and had existed for the past 20 years. Liu Fuen, 50, pastored the church throughout its history.

The pastor’s home, which is where church meetings were held, had already been declared the site of “illegal religious meetings” when members of the congregation met on March 8 to do some work on the building in order to make it better suited for church meetings.

Three days later, 300 Public Security Bureau (PSB), paramilitary police and government workers converged on the building, badly damaging it during a half-hour rampage. The group was led by Wang Tao, the Director of the Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) for Beilun District. Seeing the destruction, four neighbors who were not Christians complained to Wang, saying, “How can you arbitrarily destroy someone’s house?”

Wang ordered the four neighbors—Mu Jingou, Li Youfu, Li Liangfang and Zhang Weilong—arrested and held on Administrative Detention for 15 days.

Christians at the church were able to repair some of the damage to the house, and continued meeting in the building until March 31. On that day, Wang led a group that arrived at the church in 28 different vehicles. Four PSB officers entered the building and evicted 10 Christians who were praying inside. Then, police and other officials completely destroyed the building, leaving only piles of rubble. Officials hung posters on surrounding buildings announcing that this was the site of illegal religious activity and was being destroyed for that reason. A loudspeaker also announced that message as the destruction went on.

Pastor Liu Fuen went into hiding after his home was destroyed, but was arrested April 9 by six PSB officers at the home of his youngest son, Liu Yongsheng.

Police were not done harassing this church. The congregation gathered for Easter Sunday services at the home of Liu Mingliang, Pastor Liu’s oldest son. PSB officers again raided the service, arresting Mingliang and breaking up the service. The raiding officers were led by Hu Xinyu, head of the so-called Political Protection Division of the district PSB.

The family has been given “Criminal Detention” paperwork for both Pastor Liu and for Liu Mingliang. While Administrative Detention signifies 15 days of incarceration, a “criminal detention” will last an indefinite period of time.

“China’s government wants to control the church,” said Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for The Voice of the Martyrs. “These are not troublemakers or criminals, they are simply Christian believers who gather to worship God and learn more about Him.”

The Voice of the Martyrs encourages Christians around the world to protest to the Chinese embassy on behalf of these persecuted Christians. Letters can be addressed to:

Ambassador Yang Jiechi
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20008
Tel:(202) 328-2500 Fax:(202) 588-0032
Director of Religious Affairs: (202) 328-2512