October 18, 2010
BEIJING — On October 15, 2010, the China Lausanne Delegation in Beijing issued an open letter to the relevant Chinese government agencies involved in persecuting house church Christians. Included at the end of the letter is a chronological list showing actions taken against house church Christians that would restrict them from travel.
The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization will take place October 16 through 25 in Cape Town, South Africa. This global evangelical gathering will bring together more than 4,000 representatives from nearly 200 countries. The Lausanne Congress organizers invited over 200 delegates from house churches in China to attend the conference.
Relevant departments of the Chinese government have kept the Chinese delegates from joining the Lausanne Congress. They used many different approaches, such as persuasion, surveillance, obstruction, detention and even confiscation of passports at airports. As a result, the vast majority of the Chinese invitees will not be in attendance at the meeting.
In response to the event, we have decided to issue this open letter to expound upon our position and approach.
First, the house church is the main part of the Chinese church. It is an independent, self-governing and self-supporting church.
The underground church in China has abided by the principle of separation of state and religion, and has still witnessed continued growth. From villages to cities, from the coastal areas to the hinterlands, from the central plains to the frontier, the house church can be found all across China.
From humble beginnings of worship gatherings of dozens of people hosted in one home, the house church today has grown considerably. Hundreds or even thousands of worshippers meet at office buildings, convention centers and church buildings. The members of the house church have amounted to tens of millions of people from all walks of life, and more are being added daily. The house church has already become the main body of the Chinese church.
Second, the members of the house church in China have been longing to attend the Lausanne Congress.
The Lausanne Congress is a worldwide Christian conference that confronts critical issues pertaining to promoting evangelization all over the globe. As part of the global church, China’s house church wants very much to join all the other churches in an ongoing discussion about how to be a witness of God’s love toward the world by spreading the gospel of Christ.
We believe that attending the Lausanne Congress by the Chinese representatives will strengthen the friendship between Christians worldwide by giving testimony of God’s love toward China and sharing the vast changes of the Chinese church over the past decades.
Upon receiving the invitations, many house church members devoted much to preparing for the conference. Numerous churches and their members have made substantial donations. The house church not only raised all the money needed for the Chinese delegates to make the trip, but also the expenses for 100 representatives from some neighboring and African countries.
This is more evidence of the growth of the Chinese house church.
Third, that the relevant government departments barred the Chinese invitees from participating in the Lausanne Congress has grossly violated the religious freedom of numerous believers. They are entitled to such freedom according to China’s Constitution.
As pastors and members of the house church prepared to attend the Lausanne Congress with much enthusiasm, almost all the delegates were contacted by government agencies and were asked not to attend. As the delegates stood firm in their decision to take part in the conference, the pressure against them rose rapidly.
Some delegates have been under surveillance; several have had their passports confiscated. Some of the delegates’ churches have been under attack, and in some cases, invitees have been detained. Some delegates have been blocked by officials at airports – the vast majority of the delegates have been prevented from passing passport control officers. All these acts have constituted a clear violation of the liberty of faith of Chinese citizens given by China’s Constitution. These actions have also deeply hurt the dignity of a great number of religious believers.
As Christians, we love God and we love our country. We earnestly long for a China that is founded on love, justice and peace. We hope every Chinese person will love one another without condition. We look forward to a China where God’s light of love shines everywhere. We are thirsty for a China where justice rolls on like a river and righteousness like a never-failing stream. We hope peace no longer remains only a hope, but becomes a reality in this land.
And so, we appeal to the relevant government departments to remove all restrictions imposed on the delegates. This is one way we can prevent the problems between the government and religious believers from worsening. We hope the government will improve its religious policy and build a harmonious relationship between state and religion so that the church will become an even greater blessing for Chinese society.
May God bless China!
China Lausanne Delegation
Beijing, October 15, 2010
Chronological List of Events in China Related to the 2010 Lausanne Congress
Late September, two house church delegates of the Lausanne Congress were stopped by customs officials and barred from exiting the country when they intended to travel to a third country. The authorities admitted to restricting their travel because they knew the Christians wanted to attend Lausanne Congress. The passport of one of the representatives was confiscated.
Early October, another invitee of the Lausanne Congress was under police “supervision” for three days. Though his lines of communication were open, he did not have freedom of movement; he was essentially under house arrest. He was also told that before they would “release” him, he needed to hand in his passport.
Early in the morning on October 9, a pastor by the name of Liu Jingtao from Jingdengtai Church in Baotou, Inner Mongolia was picked up by police and placed on a 15-day administrative detention. The direct cause for the detention was that Pastor Jingtao led a prayer meeting of over 20 believers. Because Pastor Jingtao also wanted to attend the Lausanne Congress, government agencies advised him not to travel to the conference and threatened him many times.
On October 10, five volunteers from Beijing were intercepted by customs in Beijing International Airport. Their passports were temporarily confiscated and will be returned to them on October 25 – the last day of the congress.
On the same day, an attendant of the congress who also studies abroad went back to Beijing for some business. When he wanted to leave China, he was intercepted at the airport.
October 11, one of the two volunteers from Shanghai was intercepted at the customs; the other one exited the country peacefully.
Later, the passport and identification documents of a representative from Inner Mongolia were forcefully confiscated by a local police station.
Also on October 11, another invitee who studies abroad canceled his trip in September because of conflicts with his school schedule. He went to Beijing on business, but when he wanted to go back abroad, he was barred at the airport.
On October 13, out of six attendants from Shanghai, two were stopped at home and not even allowed to exit their own front door. The other four were stopped by border security.
Also, an invitee from Guangzhou and a pastor from Beijing were stopped at customs and could not exit the country.
On the morning of October 13 when a representative from Beijing intended to go to the airport, he was stopped at the door of his home by about 10 people from the local police station, the neighborhood committee and others who came with them. They forcibly blocked him from leaving, causing physical injuries. He suffered many minor wounds on his arms and waist.
Later that same day, a delegate from Beijing was pushed onto the floor by a law enforcement officer and was forcibly taken away.
On October 14, some representatives from Beijing were also stopped at their front doors. Four others were cut off by customs.
On the same day, 11 attendants from Xiamen were all cornered at their hotel in Shanghai, and three of them had their passports confiscated. After several hours of negotiation, their passports were returned to them. However, they were eventually sent back to Xiamen.
Thankfully, that day an invitee from Wenzhou successfully exited the country from an airport in Shanghai.
October 15, four representatives from Chengdu were intercepted at customs. In Beijing, 23 invitees were stopped by customs officials as well – eight were blocked in the afternoon, and 15 were blocked at night.
On the early morning of October 16, five delegates from Beijing were stopped.
As of now, almost all invitees have been placed under close surveillance and their personal freedom has been greatly restricted.
ChinaAid calls on the relevant government agencies to allow their citizens to live freely, as is entitled to them under the Chinese constitution. We are ecstatic for those who made it out of China safely, and requests prayers for their safe return be made on their behalf.
China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
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