(Hefei, Anhui province) On June 28, two key leaders of a Christian young adult group were tried by a local court for fraud. Mu En received three and a half years, and Enoch Wang received three years. The court also gave both leaders fines (~$8,000 and ~$7,000 respectively).
Young adult group
Enoch Wang originally worked at Huawei in Xi’an and learned that many young people from his hometown went to college in Hefei. He quit his job in Xi’an and returned to Anhui province. At the beginning of 2018, Mu En and Enoch Wang set up the Hefei Youth Fellowship in the university city. The fellowship started with only a dozen people and quickly grew to nearly two hundred participants. Most of the members were students and a few were young Christians who recently graduated and entered the workforce.
Asked to join TSPM
Hefei State Security questioned Enoch Wang, hoping he would join the Three-Self Church or go and register with the government. However, Enoch Wang refused. In the meantime, Youth Fellowship’s tithes and offerings were transferred via WeChat.
Raid and arrest
On September 18, 2022, police raided the Hefei Youth Fellowship, and 84 people were arrested. Officers escorted Enoch to his home and searched it for a few hours without a search warrant or any other legitimate documents. Most of the people arrested that day were released 24 hours later. Four others were released after a week of detention. On the other hand, police detained and subsequently approved the arrest of Enoch and Mu.
The families of Enoch Wang and Mu En received a notice in April. They were told the trial would be held on April 27. The family hired two defense lawyers, both of whom were not Christians. Police recovered all of Enoch’s deleted WeChat messages. They discovered the names and amounts of all the people who gave, the total amount of giving for almost five years, and who gave how much.
“Defrauded” young adult group
Investigators summoned some believers and forced them to write a “Notice of Victims’ Rights and Obligations.” If believers signed, they would claim that Hefei Youth Fellowship cheated them out of their money. Officials would not allow the members to leave the room unless they signed the false document. After the investigation, the authorities classified all the money given as fraudulent. Enoch and Mu were charged with fraud, with the total fraudulent amount totaling $240,000.
Call to action
ChinaAid sees this as a deliberate attempt by the Chinese Communist authorities to fabricate commercial charges to cover up religious persecution. The two convicted Christians are entirely innocent. We call on the Chinese Communist authorities to immediately release these persecuted Christian leaders and to implement the constitutional promise of freedom of religion in Article 36. ChinaAid also calls on the global church to pray for them and for the United Nations and democratic governments to pressure the Chinese Communist authorities to abide by their commitments to protect the practice of religious freedom for their citizens under the relevant international human rights declarations and conventions they have signed.
~Yu Bing, ChinaAid Special Reporter