|The government often tries to prevent
Chinese Christians, some of which are
pictured above, from celebrating
Christmas. (Photo: ChinaAid)
(Puyang, Henan—Jan. 8, 2018) Two churches, both founded by a repeatedly targeted church in China’s central Henan province, found their services tampered with this Christmas, ChinaAid learned recently.
Located in the center of Puyang, a city in Henan, Nanle Church off-shoot Hongen Church was locked by authorities in order to prevent Christians from organizing Christmas services.
A second Nanle Church plant, Canggu Church, belongs to a Christian named Rui Yue. As a result, the authorities could not shut it down because it is private property. On Christmas, many Christians attended the church, and, after three services, government personnel dispatched several patrol cars and police officers to the location. As the preacher, Guo Zhongqiang, started speaking about Jesus and the Bible, officers from the local religious affairs bureau interrupted him and accused him of preaching without a permit, which is necessary in China to be considered a legal pastor.
Guo said, “I’m not preaching! I am a host. I am hosting a program!” but the agents insistently interrupted the gathering, even using the church’s podium to make speeches. In response, the Christians raised their voices and sang Psalms.
When more people arrived, the officials said in order to prevent safety issues, they must shut off the heating system. The church continued meeting in the cold, but the government forcibly cut off the service and blocked all the roads to the church until 10 p.m. Several Nanle Church elders also received suggestions from the religious affairs bureau to gather at the state-run church established at a storage plant, but the church members responded that they would rather stop gathering than join.
Government churches, known as Three-Self Churches, are censored and monitored by the government and are expected to align themselves with the agenda of the Communist Party, which seeks to prioritize itself over religious beliefs in the lives of its citizens. As a result, many Christians are hesitant to attend such churches.
These cases are not lone incidents. Across China this Christmas, authorities tried to prevent many churches from holding activities as the government’s unfounded fear of Christianity as a possibly subversive foreign power grows. ChinaAid stands in solidarity with these churches and exposes the abuses enacted against them in order to promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.