(Dallas, Texas—April 8, 2023) Yesterday on Good Friday, members of the Mayflower Church arrived in Dallas, Texas. Advocacy groups and partners in the United States government greeted the Chinese Christians at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Journey for religious freedom
In 2019, Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church left China to seek religious freedom. They faced constant persecution from the Chinese Communist Party. They embarked on a nearly four-year journey for religious freedom. On March 30, some believed that the journey would come to an abrupt end when Thailand immigration apprehended the 63 members.
Fortunately, with the help of international cooperation, all of the Chinese Christians were released into American custody. All of the Mayflower Church were put on planes set for Dallas, Texas. They landed, and over a dozen supporters came to welcome them to the Lone Star State. After three years of escape, the group celebrated their joyous reunion with many of their American supporters. ChinaAid, Freedom Seekers International, and citizens from Tyler, Texas embraced each family as their arrived at Terminal E of the DFW Airport.
Once most of the families arrived, ChinaAid and Bob Fu held a welcoming event for the persecuted Christians. Joining the Mayflower Christians was United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain, David Trimble of the Religious Freedom Institute, and Dr. Randel Everett of 21Wilberforce.
Pastor Pan Yongguang, the leader of the Mayflower Church, thanked everyone in attendance. Before giving his speech, the children’s choir sang Psalm 126 and Psalm 114. Their voices echoed throughout the terminal carrying the joy and excitement of their new lives in the USA. While Pastor Pan admitted that the members of the Mayflower Church should not be considered heroes, he gave credit to God for the miraculous rescue.
He also challenged the congregation as they start their new lives in America: “Let us and our children and grandchildren in our earthly sojourn not dream the American dream, much less the Chinese dream, but be a heavenly sojourner.”
Photo: Many of the Mayflower children gathered to sing psalms (ChinaAid)
Remarks from the U.S. Congress
While many members of the U.S. Congress could not make it in person, they prepared remarks to welcome the exiled church.
Rep. Nathaniel Moran
Congressman Nathaniel Moran represents the district where the Mayflower Church plans to resettle in Tyler, Texas. He shared his remarks with the church:
Every individual should be free to practice their faith safely and without fear of persecution. The immediate action taken by U.S. officials signals that as a nation, we are still committed to standing for the persecuted, and as a Member of Congress, I am committed to fighting on behalf of religious freedom for all.
Rep. Chris Smith
Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), who worked closely with advocacy groups since the beginning, gave a stern warning. “Reflecting upon your ordeal, I must add that in the future, Thai government officials must be more vigilant when it comes to malign CCP activities within their country, and work to hold accountable any police officers or officials who colluded with Chinese Communist agents in an attempt to deprive church members of your rights under international refugee law.”
Sen. Ted Cruz
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) also aided the church and reaffirmed that “[r]eligious freedom is a bedrock principle of the United States, and the Mayflower Church congregation is now free to exercise their faith after years of religious persecution.