National security agents in China’s coastal Zhejiang confronted a local pastor for supporting Christians in Henan province, who are undergoing intense persecution.
Faced with the continual deterioration of Henan churches’ freedoms, Pastor Yan Xiaojie of Shangjiang Church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, decided to sign a statement decrying the persecution. So far, the statement has more than 345 signatures.
On Sept. 19, Yan posted an “urgent prayer request” online, stating that personnel from three different government offices stopped by his home the previous day to speak with him. He said, “I was not home, so they threatened my mom and wife, telling them that they must see me and investigate two things: one is that I signed the petition, and the other that I will travel abroad in October. I am communicating with them now. May the Lord Jesus be with me. I hope [Christian] brothers and sisters will pray hard for me.”
This is not the first time Yan has been targeted. He was put under administrative detention on false “disturbing social order” charges by the Longwan District Public Security Bureau on Aug. 26, 2015, as crosses and churches were being demolished across his province. The next month, he was transferred to criminal detention and then placed under surveillance. In February 2016, he returned home on bail, his trial pending, and had restricted freedom of movement.
An anonymous Christian said that local officials often warn Christians not to spread the news of what is happening to churchgoers in Henan, which resembles the 2015 Zhejiang crackdown, warn them not to criticize the government, and urge parents of students to fill out forms stating their religion.
Likewise, at Henan’s Xinyang College, authorities asked students to fill out the “Religion Information Card,” which requests information on what faith students practice, when they were converted, whether or not they proselytize, whether they attend religious rallies, where they spread the religion, what approaches they use to proclaim it, whether they are sponsored by a religious community, whether or not they share their faith online, why they believe it, etc.
In addition, the Dongshan District Ethnic and Religious Administration in Xuzhou, Jiangsu disrupted a Sunday service held at Dao’en Church, saying that it held illegal religious events on Aug. 12. They sent an administrative penalty notice to the church’s pastor, Fan Xiaojun, and one of its ministers, Ma Ben. They church appealed and asked for a hearing. One was held on Sept. 12, but the results are still unavailable. Another was held on Sept. 26, but ChinaAid does not yet know the outcome.