Photo: The Mayflower Church in the USA (ChinaAid)
(Dallas, Texas—April 7, 2023) ChinaAid is thrilled to welcome the Mayflower Church to the United States where authorities have granted them humanitarian parole status. In close coordination with the U.S. Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, various UN agencies, and the Thai government, the group will arrive in Texas today. Freedom Seekers International will aid in the resettlement of the exiled church.
Led by Pastor Pan Yongguang, a group of 28 adults and 32 children from Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church left the People’s Republic of China (PRC) beginning in November 2019. They came to Jeju Island, South Korea, after enduring repeated threats and interrogations from PRC police. After exhausting the Korean immigration system, the church members traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, in order to seek UNHCR refugee status.
In a drastic turn of events, Thai Immigration detained the 63 members of the Mayflower Church on March 30, putting them in imminent danger of international kidnapping and refoulement. Should anyone have returned the exiled Christians to China, they would have faced certain retaliation, abuse, and prison time at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
Families of the church were separated at two facilities, one of which being the notorious Immigration Detention Center in Bangkok. The quick intervention by the United States government surely saved the lives of all the men, women, and children. U.S. officials successfully negotiated the release of the Mayflower Church into U.S. custody, boarding planes to arrive in America.
“It is the most joyful homecoming to welcome the Mayflower Church to Texas,” said Dr. Bob Fu, Founder and President of ChinaAid. “None of this would have been possible without the help of partners, members of Congress, and U.S. government staff who worked countless hours in order to bring the Mayflower Church to safety. Now they can live out their faith fully without fear of persecution!”
Thank you to partners
Chad Bullard, the CEO of ChinaAid, thanked those responsible for the rescue of the Mayflower Christians:
This is a successful example of nonpartisan, international cooperation. We are thankful to all parties including various US government agencies, particularly the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Office led by Ambassador Rashad Hussain, the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, USCIRF, and a number of congressional offices including Chairman Mike McCaul and Chairman Chris Smith. Other legislators aided in the process including Rep. Nathaniel Moran, Rep. August Pfluger, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Special thanks to Speaker You Si-Kun of Taiwan Legislative YUAN (Parliament), former Congressman Frank Wolf, OHCHR, UNHCR in Thailand and Washington, D.C., and the US Mission to Geneva in the UN. Many others advocated for the Mayflower: USCIRF Commissioners; International Religious Freedom Alliance led by UK MP Fiona Bruce; Lord David Alton; IRF Summit co-chairs Ambassador Sam Brownback and Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett; IRF Secretariat leaders; David Trimble of Religious Freedom Institute; and Chairman Sen-hong Yang of Taiwan Association for Human Rights in China. Several organizations visited the church and supported them in numerous ways, like Christian Freedom International, Family Research Council, Alliance Defense Freedom, Religious Freedom Institute, and 21Wilberforce. We also especially thank our coalition partners, namely Deana Brown with Freedom Seekers International. Thank you to the Royal Thai government and many individuals around the globe. ChinaAid is truly honored to be a part of this miracle!
As the Mayflower Church adjusts to life in Texas, ChinaAid will continue to advocate for all people of faith in China who seek to live out their religions from under the thumb of the Chinese Communist Party.