|A copy of the notice given to Zion
Church, telling them to stop all
activities. (Photo: ChinaAid)
(Xianning, Hubei—Aug. 30, 2017) Officers in China’s central Hubei province confronted a house church pastor on Aug. 23, issuing a notice that her church’s activities were illegal and ordering them to stop.
Pastors Xu Shizhen and Xu Yuqing of Zion Church received a warning from the local religious affairs bureau after preaching in public, according to Xu Shizhen’s daughter. The officers claimed that because the church was not officially registered and the ‘religious activities’ took place outside of approved venues, they were illegal.
After members of Zion Church conducted missionary activities in Guihua Square and Train Station Square, giving out fans, teacups, and pamphlets with Christian messages on them, the religious affairs bureau received a report of the event and demanded that the two pastors stop all activities.
Xu Shizhen told a ChinaAid reporter that she has no intention of stopping. “The government doesn’t allow me to spread the Gospel. I’ve been doing missionary work for 38 years in Xianning. I established the local churches. They said that my current church was not registered, and that we could not do that. (On Aug. 23) they visited twice, at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. They told me that [this method of spreading the Gospel] violated the Regulation on Religious Affairs, because I wasn’t registered. They also said that the certifications that could prove my clerical status had expired.”
Xu Shizhen previously served as pastor of Hongqiao Church, previously an official Three-Self church in the area, until April 2012, when authorities seized the building after church members had raised hundreds of thousands of yuan to build it. The officers smashed their donation box and changed the locks to keep church members out.
“I left [the official church] after I established Hongqiao Church,” Xu Shizhen said. “[The officer] asked me why I refused to accept the inspection of the bureau, and I told him that it was because they had evicted me from the Three-Self Church. ‘I founded so many churches, yet you threw me out. I believe in Jesus Christ. I don’t believe in you.’”
ChinaAid reports on persecution against house churches in China, such as the orders issued to the pastors of Zion Church, in order to expose abuses by the Chinese government against its citizens.