It seems as though the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is completely blind to the fact that God, who created the universe and redeems his people, cannot be stamped out through brute force.
The CCP under Xi Jinping regards Christianity as a dangerous foreign import, with party documents warning against the "infiltration of Western hostile forces" in the form of religion.
The Guiyang Renai Reformed Church is a small house church with fewer than 100 members. CCP agents banned the church in 2018 for refusing to join the government-sanctioned Three Self Patriotic Movement. All religious events were cancelled and church equipment and signs were removed.
The church moved to other venues but the CCP raided these, removed a cross and confiscated Elder Zhang’s computer and other personal possessions in 2019.
On 16 March, 2021, Christians from Ren’ai (Love) Reformed Church gathered in a room to begin a 3-day retreat. Brother Chen Jianguo began the gathering at 9am with a Bible reading from Philippians chapter 1, verses 12 – 18, and prayer, when personnel from the Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs, state security, police and some community members entered the room and condemned those gathering for holding “an illegal rally”.
Police recorded each person’s ID and their interrogations. They also examined the retreat attendees’ cell phones. Around 1pm, most Christians were allowed to leave, but authorities transported 10 of the Christians to a police station.
That evening around 11pm, authorities cuffed the hands of Elder Zhang Chunlei, Chen Jinguo, Li Jinzhi, and Li Lin behind their backs and transferred them to Guiyang City Economic Development Zone Police Station. They gave Elder Zhang Chunlei a 14-day administrative detention, and Chen Jianguo, Li Jinzhi, and Li Lin each a 3-day detention on a charge of “illegally hosting events under the name of an organization.”
On March 20, Brother Chen and the two other detained Christians from the retreat completed serving their 3-days detention and received the “certificate of release from detention” that the detention center issued. However, Elder Zhang, who had been given a 14 day administrative detention, was not released.
Brother Chen thanks Christian brothers and sisters for their prayer intercession.
Brother Chen reported:
- …I wish that we as Christians could have a place like prison for retreat or used as school. My three-day retreat held in a city became a more authentic “retreat,” isolating from the world.
- I experienced life in the world but not belonging to the world; that Christians should never attempt to flee the world while still living in the world.
- I accomplished four projects in those three days:
- I fasted for three days.
- I saw a blurry world (officers temporarily confiscated my glasses).
- I didn’t hear anything from the world (officers temporarily confiscated my cell phone).
- I shared the gospel with others at a specific time in the three days.
Thank God and praise the Lord. He used his mighty power to enable me to complete the “retreat” using some related departments.
If God wills, I hope that I get to experience this type retreat again. May all glory and praise be to our Heavenly Father. Amen.
Ongoing persecution by CCP
Radio Free Asia reports that authorities in China are detaining Christians in secret, mobile “transformation” facilities to make them renounce their faith. The details are truly horrifying and include isolation for months at a time, beating, verbal abuse and mental torture, brain washing and injection with drugs. Some Christians resort to self-harm and suicidal ideation.
Elder Zhang remains in detention. He did not compromise his faith, with the consequence that CCP authorities may fabricate charges against him.
Persecutions of China’s house churches intensified after the Chinese Spring Festival. Nevertheless, many Christian leaders, including Elder Zhang, Elder Li Yingqiang of Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church, and Pastor Huang Xiaoning of Guangzhou Reformed Church, encouraged each other.
They agreed that if authorities imprison them, they are ready to pay a price for the sake of faith and will use this time as an opportunity to spread the gospel in prison. These leaders also agreed that if any of them were imprisoned, they would pray together at 5 pm every day.
On April 06, Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church published the following prayer request:
“Brothers and sisters, please continue to pray for Elder Zhang Chunlei. Please pray for God to give him peace when he is suffering from the persecution, and temporarily pause his service for the Lord to let him rest. Also pray for God to protect him and let him leave the prison safely to continue serving God’s Church.”
Pray also for the believers at Guiyang's Ren'ai Reformed Church, Pastor Wang Yi, his family, and the believers at Chengdu's Early Rain Covenant Church; and lawyer Gao Zhisheng, along with his surviving extended family. 'I am with you always, to the end of the age' (promise of Matthew Chapter 28, verse 20).
Continue to pray that our God will protect, comfort, encourage and sustain every faithful Christian believer currently detained in a Chinese prison or 'disappeared' in a secret facility that the Chinese Communist Party thinks God cannot access, and in the custody of cruel men who think their evil is not seen (Hebrews Chapter 4, verse 13). May every Christian prisoner know the closeness of their Saviour (Psalm Chapter 139, verses 7-12) and may God intervene in justice and grace to vindicate his suffering servants and free the Chinese Church (Habakkuk Chapter 2, verses 12-14).
Aira Chilcott is a retired secondary school teacher with lots of science andtheology under her belt. Aira is a panellist and editor for PSI and indulges inreading, bushwalking and volunteering at a nature reserve. Aira is married to Billand they have three adult sons.
Aira Chilcott's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/aira-chilcott.html