An image of Golden Lampstand Church being demolished

Update: Linfen Golden Lampstand Church faces another round of CCP persecution

CCP agents forcibly explode Golden Lampstand Church’s building January 9, 2018. 
(Photo: ChinaAid resource)
(Lifen, Shanxi Province—August 11, 2021) On August 7, police arrested nine leaders from Golden Lampstand Church, including Pastor Wang Xiaoguang, formerly imprisoned for three years, and his wife, Preacher Yang Rongli, previously imprisoned for seven years. In July, as Linfen officials initiated a massive campaign to target leaders of the Church, they also summoned Chinese leaders from other Churches affiliated to Golden Lampstand Church for interrogation.

Members* of Golden Lampstand Church, a large house church in Fushan County, donated ¥17 million ($2,621,029 United States Dollars [USD]) to build their Church building. Nevertheless, a local Chinese Communist Party (CCP) demolition team forcibly bombed this place of worship to the ground on January 9, 2018.

In the past, Pastor Wang and Preacher Yang worked for Shanxi Normal University. In 1998, they resigned from their jobs and started serving the Church full-time. Preacher Yang, a fifth generation Christian and highly respected among house churches in the Linfen area, became a follower of Christ at a young age. Pastor Wang, who authored more than 10 biblical books. presented in-depth analysis on China’s house Churches. In his book, Theology of the Cross, based on Martin Luther’s Theology of the Cross, he developed four theological principles for China’s house Churches. Since 1998, as the couple and other church leaders have nurtured the Church, it grew from less than 100 members to more than 50,000.

During this time of growth which surprised local government officials, the Church has held to authentic Christian faith. They refused to join the Three-self Church, and register with the Religious Affairs Bureau. Consequently, CCP authorities constantly persecuted and suppressed members. Since 2004, local government officials have frequently cut off their water and power.

Preacher Yang (left), and Pastor Wang.
(Photo: ChinaAid resource)

In 2009, the renown September 13 crackdown occurred. At approximately 3 am on September 13, 2009, Fushan County CCP authorities ordered more than 400 police to raid Golden Lampstand Church and its evangelical shoe factory. Police officers brutally beat Christians who had been sleeping in their apartments, injuring more than 100 people to the point some lost consciousness and required emergency medical care. Authorities contracted for bulldozers and excavators to destroy buildings, appliances, cooking wares and other Church possessions.

That afternoon, thousands of Christians gathered in front of the county government office to pray for officials and appeal for them to repent. During the afternoon of September 19, 2009, the head of Linfen Public Security Bureau reached an agreement with Pastor Yang and two church leaders. Government officials offered to pay ¥1.4 million (215,849 USD) for the church to rebuild the buildings CCP officials had destroyed. Authorities refused, however, to release the Christians who had posted forced demolition videos online whom they had arrested.

 CCP authorities also threatened to cancel subsistence allowances for those Christians who continued to attend the Church. They also warned Shanxi Normal University students—Do not attend Golden Lampstand Church. Due to these constraints and critical conditions, Preacher Yang and other Church leaders rejected the ¥1.4 million compensation, hoping to resolve problems by petitioning higher level authorities.

On September 23, 2009, armed police besieged Golden
Lampstand Church’s main building.  On
September 25, police officers accosted Preacher Yang and six other Church leaders
on their way to Taiyuan to petition higher authorities. When government officials
offered Preacher Yang/Church leaders ¥10 million (1,541,782 USD) to purchase
Golden Lampstand Church, they rejected the offer. Pastor Yang said:

Officials wanted me to sign the paperwork
to sell the church for ¥10 million. They claimed our Church was illegal and
asked us to demolish it. I told them to stop talking about that. Brothers and Sisters
paid more than ¥10 million to build the Church. I did not pay any money, I told
them… “You need to ask our Brothers and Sisters. If they agree to sell the Church,
you give the money to them. If they disagree, I cannot do anything. I do not
have the authority to make the decision for them.” 

Meantime, police placed the Church’s primary leaders under 24-hour surveillance or house arrest. On October 8, 2009, police officers raided Pastor Wang’s home. On October 11, officials criminally detained Preacher Yang Rongli and eight other church leaders. On October 29, when numerous human rights lawyers testified on China’s religious persecution in the United States Congress, they noted the Linfen case. On November 2, however, the procuratorate transferred the case to the court.

On November 25, 2009, Yaodu District Court officials ruled that Golden Lampstand Church leaders had committed crimes of “illegally occupying farmland,” and “assembling a crowd to disturb traffic order.” A judge sentenced Preacher Yang Rongli to serve seven years in prison, and fined her ¥30,000 (4,625 USD). The judge sentenced Pastor Wang to three years in prison and fined him ¥10,000 (1,541 USD). The court also sentenced:

  •  Yang Xuan to serve three and a half years in prison and pay a fine of ¥20,000 (3,083 USD).
  • Cui Jiaxing to serve five and a half for 5.5 years and years in prison and pay a ¥50,000 (7,708 USD).
  • Ms. Zhang Huamei to serve four years in prison.

On November 30, after CCP authorities charged five more
Church leaders with “assembling a crowd to disturb traffic order,” the court sentenced
them to two years reeducation through labor.** These Christians include:

  •  Li Shuangping,
  • Ms. Yang Hongzhen,
  • Ms. Yang Caizhen (Yang Xuan’s wife),
  • Ms. Gao Qin (also called Gao Fuqin), and
  • Ms. Zhao Guoai. 

ChinaAid sources reported that as Ms. Yang Caizhen “lost” one tooth, she appeared to have been beaten during her interrogation.

After court sentences, CCP officials banned Golden Lampstand Church’s more than 30 gathering locations. Authorities released Pastor Wang from prison in 2012. They released Preacher Yang in 2016. Prior to her imprisonment, Preacher Yang had beautiful black hair. When released, her hair had turned white. While in prison, Preacher Yang continued her worship and service. Despite being imprisoned, she said she will continue to share God’s gospel.

Preacher Yang being released October 10, 2016. 
(Photo: ChinaAid resource)

On January 9, 2018, when CCP demolition workers bombed Golden Lampstand Church, they completely destroyed the building, as well the basement and the emergency evacuation exit. Later, workers transported the broken bricks from the scene. According to one witness, police officers erected a line of police tape around the demolition site to prevent people from getting too close or photographing or videoing the scene.

Many Christians who watched the demolition from a distance cried.

This year, 2021, five years after CCP authorities released Preacher Yang, government officials have initiated another round of massive arrests against Church leaders. The CCP has escalated its persecution against house Churches, and Churches. Authorities primarily target those like Golden Lampstand Church, and Christians who decide to “hold fast” to the faith… those who refuse to compromise the gospel of Jesus Christ—despite and even when facing another round of CCP persecution.

~ Yubing, ChinaAid Special Correspondent

* Many of the more than 50,000 members
** Time counted from October 11, 2009

*** Some Christians expect CCP authorities to impose fabricated financial-related charges against this 

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Let us hold fast the confession of our hope
 without wavering, 
for He who promised is faithful.
                                                                                    ~ Hebrews 10:23 (NKJV)


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