An County Church Banned in Former Sichuan Earthquake Disaster Zone

March 3, 2010

SICHUAN–Made famous by the devastating Sichuan Earthquake of 2008, which leveled homes and killed thousands of Chinese citizens, An County is no stranger to disaster and repression. In the peaceful village of Hongshi in An County, faithful house church Christians have met in the home of pastor Gan Yonggui for fellowship and prayer for many years. House Church Christians were instrumental in providing care and comfort for fellow villagers, who lost children, parents, and relatives in the quake. In that time of crisis, the Chinese government seemed to soften on some controls, allowing a few faith organizations to provide relief. Just two years later, their goodwill toward the faithful seems to have dissipated entirely.
On February 8, 2010, officials from the Sichuan Bureau of Ethnicity and Religious Affairs came to the home of Pastor Gan Yonggui in Anxian. They issued a formal notice of administrative punishment, announcing their decision to ban the house church Christian fellowship meeting in his home.
Read the full translation of the Anxian Bureau of Ethnicity and Religious Affairs’ Notice, issued February 8, 2010:
Anxian Bureau of Ethnicity and Religious Affairs
The Notice of Administrative Punishment Decision No. (2010) 1

February 8, 2010
Mr. Gan Yonggui of Anxian Jiashui Hongshi sizu,
We, along with the Anxian Bureau of Public Safety have investigated and found that you have illegally set up religious site to host religious activities at your house. In accordance with Article 43 of Regulations on Religious Affairs and Article 52, 53 of Regulations on Religious Affairs in Sichuan Province, we thereby made the decision of administrateive punishment to ban the religious site at your house and order to stop the religious activities. Should you not accept the decision, you may appeal for administrative reconsideration within 15 days after you receive this notice.
–Anxian Bureau of Ethnicity and Religious Affairs (Signed with Seal)
Pastor Gan Yonggui immediately appealed the decision on February 9, 2010. He has not yet heard back from the Anxian officials.
This latest ban on house church fellowship in Sichuan shows that the Chinese government has already forgotten the contributions of the faithful communities in recovering the stability of Sichuan and the nation.
ChinaAid urges the international community to pray for house church Christians in An County. We urge the An Xian (County) authorities to repeal the ban, to soften their hearts, and to allow the free expression of worship for all believers in their region, according to their basic human rights.

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