|The 2015 Threefold Visions conference,
held in Hong Kong, in 2015.
(Chengdu, Sichuan—April 19, 2018) Within 24 hours, officials in China’s central Henan province interrogated members of Autumn Rain Blessing Church on April 9.
The trouble began at 10 a.m., when Jiang Rong, the wife of the church’s pastor, Wang Yi, was at a church leader’s home. The authorities showed up to inquire about their Sunday services and required that Jiang show her ID, but she insisted that they should first display their identifications. They refused, resulting in a stalemate. Jiang called the police, and both sides made a truce.
However, Wang said that officials from the neighborhood committee and the local police station interrogated a full-time church employee about the church’s short-term mission trips at 11 a.m. on the same day.
At 2 p.m. the neighborhood committee, the police station, and ethnic and religious affairs bureau summoned another church member and inquired about Sichuan University students conducting missionary activities on the campus. Later that evening, Ding Shuqi, another Autumn Rain Blessing Church attendee organized a group of Christians to evangelize at the school’s gate. University staff called the police, and the Christians were brought to the Wangjiang Street Police Station.
Last September 12, Wang set out for Hong Kong in order to speak at the “Threefold Visions” conference, but police intercepted him at Chengdu’s airport. 10 days later, they summoned Wang and Jiang on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and detained them until 7 p.m. Wang was detained again when he attempted to travel abroad from Xiamen, located in Fujian province. Wang believes that the Qingyang District police violated his civil rights and the 5th section of Article 12 of the Exit and Entry Administration Law. This law specifies that only the State Council or other “competent departments” may restrict individuals who might “endanger national security or interests,” which Wang has not done. His case also does not apply to the other five sections of Article 12, which deals primarily with people who do not possess valid exit/entry documents and who are either in unsettled civil cases or under criminal punishment.
However, within the last year, Wang was intercepted three times.
In December, Qingyang District’s fire brigade went to Autumn Rain Blessing Church and insisted that the church renovate its firefighting system, a demand officials often make to harass churches. The government also pressured their landlord to revoke their lease.
Autumn Rain Blessing Church is the largest unregistered church in Chengdu. Wang said, “We are mellow and humble people … We are now responsible for the holy task of witnessing for Christ in front of the government. I pray to the Lord, asking for strength and confidence, so our determination can prevail. I pray to the Lord so we can always be full of joy as we are chosen to become the container and representative of the Gospel and the kingdom of Christ. I pray to the Lord for those in the government, so they won’t panic, suffer from their pride, or use power to conceal their fear. King of Peace (God), the world is full of discord, so we depend on your serenity.”
ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by the members of Autumn Rain Blessing Church, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.