The church made a hotel reservation in advance, but State security officers monitored the entire conversation with the church and hotel. Officers also found some congregants the day before the event and warned them not to attend, which reduced the number of attendants.
This was not uncommon for Shenzhen Trinity Harvest. Officials have interrupted three other religious gatherings in the past several months. In April, the Religion
Bureau raided and shut down the church during Sunday worship without any
warrants. Ten church members, including Pastor Mao Zhibin, Pastor Cao Yuan, and Elder Chu Huaiqing were taken to Bantian police station that morning. A month later, authorities closed a beach in order to prevent baptisms, but the church was able to relocate. Pastor Mao Zhibin gave a Zoom sermon in July, but officials broke into the room, disrupting their online service.
Since this April, the church lacked fellowship, so they hoped to celebrate the 5th anniversary of their church together. However, some of the threats from officials intimidated them. Pastor Mao Zhibin encouraged his congregation to continue with the event:
Stick with the original plan, don’t change, don’t flinch. It is legal for us to relax and gather there, it is a citizens’ legal right and nobody should stop us from our event. Most importantly, we believe in the triune God, and we submit everything to His hand. If we pray wholeheartedly, God will hear our prayers and know our hearts.
On September 4th, members of Trinity Harvest arrived at the beach in Huizhou. After their lunch, they tried to check-in at the hotel. However, the hotel suddenly refunded their reservation and would not allow them to stay. Local police placed five members— including Pastor Mao Zhibin, —under surveillance. They returned to the restaurant to plan their next move. Suddenly, the owner of the restaurant offered them his four-story villa. He heard their discussion and decided to help them. Five other members were unable to stay in the villa, but they found lodging with a local farmer. ChinaAid sources report that local police blacklisted Trinity Harvest from all hotels in the area before they arrived.
Police scattered Huizhou beach the next morning. Some departments in Shenzhen and Huizhou assumed that the church would hold baptisms at the beach. Although nobody was arrested from Shenzhen Trinity Harvest Gospel Church, authorities were vigilant to harass and surveil them at every turn.
~ Yu Bing, ChinaAid Association Special Reporter