Underground Christians Blocked From Leaving China

Last Sunday, a house church in Haidian District of Beijing held a prayer meeting for those attending the Lausanne Congress.
Five Christians from underground churches in Beijing were stopped at the airport while attempting to travel to South Africa.
BEIJING (Ming Pao News) — On October 10, 2010, five Christian volunteers from underground churches in Beijing intended to go to South Africa to attend the 3rd International Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne. The Lausanne Congress is scheduled to begin on October 16th. However, they were blocked from leaving the country by border guards at Beijing International Airport, and their passports were confiscated. Two hundred Chinese underground Christians were invited to attend the Lausanne Congress, and all of them have been approached by the authorities to speak with officers. At least one of the underground Christians has been detained.
Liu Guan, one of the volunteers from the underground churches, said that he and four others arrived at the airport at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon yesterday. After retrieving their boarding passes, they tried to go through customs, but when the border inspectors saw information about the Lausanne Congress on the visas in the passports, they refused to let them go through. Shortly after, five or six officers from the Domestic Security Protection Squad from Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (members of the Ministry of Public Security) arrived. With them were some people from Bureau of Religion and people from district agencies and neighborhood committees who seized the luggage of the believers. He was sent home at about 6 o’clock in the evening.
According to Liu Guan (pictured on the left), the police officers were polite and there were no conflicts between the two sides. At least four passports were confiscated, and would be held until October 25th. According to Liu Guan, the authorities should no longer regard Christianity as a “tool of imperialists in their aggression.”  Instead, they should see that it can positively influence social justice. Liu hopes for better communication with the authorities in the future concerning Christianity.
This year, the Lausanne Congress will be held in South Africa from October 16th to October 25th. The government-sanctioned Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) Church of China contacted the organizers of the Congress in hopes that they could attend. However, the Congress requires attendees to sign the “Lausanne Covenant” which requires the adherents to preach the Gospel to the world. This is in conflict with  the TSPM’s requirements that the church must have a fixed amount of land, a specified location, and the congregation must not exceed a certain amount of members. Also, the pastor must hold a sermon certificate and preach in designated churches in designated areas. Because they could not sign the document, they could not attend the Congress.
A pastor from an underground church in Beijing who was invited to the congress said the authorities began speaking to the invitees since March of this year. What the authorities mainly wanted to convey to the 200 invitees was that the Lausanne Congress is promoted by anti-China forces, so they should not attend. Early in the morning on October 9th, a pastor from an underground church in Inner Mongolia was sentenced to detention for 15 days, charged with “organizing illegal religious activities.”  He is scheduled to be released on the closing day of the Lausanne Congress.
According to the detained pastor, the Congress is a purely religious gathering. It has no political agenda and will not pose any threats to the security of the state. He believes some of the underground Christians will eventually make it to South Africa, but it is difficult for him to conclude exactly how many people will make the trip.
Source: Ming Pao News.
Link (中文): Five Christians from underground churches in Beijing were stopped at the airport while attempting to travel to South Africa.

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