Preacher Yang of Linfen Golden Lampstand Church released in 2016
(Linfen, Shanxi Province—January 13,2022) Authorities arrested nine leaders of Linfen Golden Lampstand Church. While some were released on bail, more leaders were arrested.
Officials initially released the following on bail: Feng Junyingzi, Chen Qinglan, Li Qin, Wang Xianfeng, and Yang Hongzhen. However, the following seven people were formally arrested on September 27: Pastor Wang Xiaoguang and his wife Yang Rongli, Li Shuangping. Dong Yongyong, Zhao Guoai, Huo Zhuangping, and Wu Linge. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) suspected all of them of “fraud” and transferred the case on December 27.
Last August, a joint law enforcement action arrested nine leaders of Linfen Golden Lampstand Church, including pastor Wang Xiaoguang and his wife Yang Rongli. Before that, pastor Wang had spent three years in prison for his Christian belief. Preacher Yang Rongli was imprisoned for 7 years. In July 2021, Linfen’s local government launched a large campaign among all communities to find the core leaders of Golden Lampstand Church. Meanwhile, police summoned many preachers related to Golden Lampstand for interrogation.
Linfen Golden Lampstand Church is a large house church with 50,000 members. Members donated ¥17 million (2,673,502 USD) to build their church building. However, the local government forcibly demolished it on January 9, 2018.
In the past, Pastor Wang and Preacher Yang worked for Shaanxi Normal University. They resigned from their jobs in 1998 and started serving the Church full-time. Preacher Yang, a fifth-generation Christian, became a believer at a young age. Pastor Wang, who authored more than 10 biblical books, presented an in-depth analysis of China’s house churches. Their church grew from less than 100 members to more than 50,000.
During this time of growth, the Church held to the authentic Christian faith. They refused to join the Communist-sanctioned Three-Self Church or register with the Religious Affairs Bureau. Consequently, CCP authorities constantly persecuted and suppressed members. Since 2004, local government officials have frequently cut off their water and power. In 2009, the renowned September 13 crackdown occurred.
At approximately 3 am on September 13, 2009, Fushan County CCP authorities ordered more than 400 police to raid Golden Lampstand Church and its evangelical shoe factory. Police officers brutally beat Christians who had been sleeping in their apartments, injuring more than 100 people to the point some lost consciousness and required emergency medical care. Authorities contracted bulldozers and excavators to destroy buildings, appliances, cooking wares, and other Church possessions.
Less than three weeks later, armed police besieged Golden Lampstand Church’s main building. Police officers accosted Preacher Yang and six other Church leaders on their way to Taiyuan to petition higher authorities. Government officials offered Preacher Yang and Church leaders ¥10 million (1,541,782 USD) to purchase Golden Lampstand Church, but they rejected the offer.
Preacher Yang told them:
The Brothers and Sisters of our Church paid more than ¥10 million to build the Church. I did not pay any money. You need to ask them. If they agree to sell the Church, you give the money to them. If they disagree, I cannot do anything. I do not have the authority to make that decision for them.
On October 8, 2009, police officers raided Pastor Wang’s home. On October 11, officials criminally detained Pastor Wang, Preacher Yang Rongli, and seven other church leaders. On November 2, however, the procuratorate transferred the case to the court. On November 25, Yaodu District Court officials ruled that Golden Lampstand Church leaders had committed crimes of “illegally occupying farmland,” and “assembling a crowd to disturb traffic order.” The judge sentenced:
- Preacher Yang Rongli to a severe seven years in prison and fined ¥30,000 (4,625 USD).
- Pastor Wang to three years in prison and was fined ¥10,000 (1,541 USD).
- Yang Xuan to serve three and a half years in prison and pay a fine of ¥20,000
(3,083 USD). Cui Jiaxing to serve five and a half years in prison and fined ¥50,000 (7,708 USD). Ms. Zhang Huamei to serve four years in prison.
After court sentences, CCP officials banned Golden Lampstand’s more than 30 gathering locations. Authorities released Pastor Wang from prison in 2012 and Preacher Yang in 2016.
In 2021, five years after CCP authorities released Preacher Yang, she was arrested again. This time, she was charged with “fraud,” frequently used by CCP to persecute Christians.
~ Yu Bing, ChinaAid special reporter