China Aid Association
Urgent Statement Regarding the Destruction of Christian Churches in Xiaoshan District, Zhejiang，China
By Chinese House Church Alliance
August 2, 2006
1．The Origin and Doctrine of Christian Churches in Xiaoshan
The Chinese House Church Alliance learned that Christian Churches in Xiaoshan District， Hangzhou City， Zhejiang Province，are fruits of the missionary work of “China Inland Missionary,” an evangelical organization founded by the famous Britain missionary, Hudson Taylor, who preached the Gospel in Xiaoshan in 1867. Christian Churches in Xiaoshan have inherited the orthodox Christian belief from “Inland missionary,” which is known for adhering to biblical truths and living by faith. Christian Churches in Xiaoshan insist upon the inerrancy of the Bible, fear of God, the cross, and holding fast to the doctrine of justification by faith. They oppose various heresies inconsistent with biblical teaching, including the extreme charismatic movement, and the “New Way Movement.” They have also fought against the domestic cult “Eastern Lightening” in recent years.
Since the Christian churches in Xiaoshan embrace biblical truth, they refuse to join those unbelievers who have devoted themselves to this world. Thus the Christian churches in Xiaoshan were never involved in the TSPM (Three Self Patriotic Movement) advocated by the Chinese government.
2. The Wrong Accusation as Counterrevolutionary Gang in 1950’s
The local churches in Xiaoshan originated from the gatherings of “Inland missionary,” an evangelical organization. In 1935, the Missionary gathering started to shift to local churches, and gradually local churches were established in Xiaoshan. The churches in Xiaoshan emphasize servant hood, evangelism, and the cultivation of the Christian spiritual life and the churches developed rapidly.
But in 1956, the political situation changed, the followers of brother Watchman Nee were branded a “Counterrevolutionary Gang.” The church leaders were forced to attend brainwashing classes and the churches were closed in 1960s. The churches in Xiaoshan resumed in the 1970s and grew slightly even though they were still labeled a “Counterrevolutionary Gang.” The Xianshan churches have absolutely nothing to do with the so-called “Counterrevolutionary Gang.” They cautiously adhere to the instructions of the Bible and keep themselves separated from the politics of this world.
3. The Issue of Building Churches
Persecuted for more than half a century, the Christians in Xiaoshan were very cautious. Although 50 years had passed since the great persecution in 1956, the government still insulted the nearly 100 thousand Christians in Xiaoshan by imposing the contemptuous name “Little Flock” which belonged to Watchman Nee, on the churches in Xiaoshan and often referred to them as “Counterrevolutionary Gangs.” Since the accusation of being a counterrevolutionary group seems a bit strange in the current political situation, the government began charging Christians as “cult members” in recent years.
In such a political climate, Christians dared not mention building a sanctuary or dare ask for property from the government until an influx of works came to Xiaoshan. To fulfill their mission to preach the gospel and to help the government maintain social security, Christians began inviting the laborers to their worship services. They often outnumbered the local Christians. This situation made it necessary to build sanctuaries, because one family can no longer hold so many worshippers, due to the limitations of residential areas following the Government’s land acquisitions from the peasants in the process of urbanization.
4. Problems and Crisis Caused by the Regulation of Registration
From 1950s, Chinese Christians have been facing the pressure of joining TSPM; a government organized church system, requiring Christians to be more loyal to the country than to God. Although the local government did not insist that all churches should come under the administration by TSPM, their policy to control the churches has never changed.
Because of their responsibility to God, as well as the purity of their belief, the churches in Xiaoshan are not willing to register with the government. The churches are still operating underground or semi-underground. So the churches can not build public sanctuaries. But since the sanctuary is a high quality structure, in order to escape the government’s disturbance of the project, or even destruction of the building, the builders of the sanctuaries often work overtime to build the church as fast as possible. But even these half-underground-church buildings were often destroyed by the government. For example, in July 26, 2003, Tudusha church in Xiashan was bulldozed by hundreds of military police.
Christians had to face great pressure to build a sanctuary because of the government’s frequent demolition of church buildings. They often get up at early morning, midnight, and even overnight, to build the church. In recent years the 200 churches built in Xiaoshan have witnessed many tragedies.
Accidents happened now and then during the church building process. On at 4 AM, June 4, 2005, 53 year-old Brother Wang Mingfu, one of the overseeing brothers of Tudusha church, died when he fell from the rafters, leaving his wife and two daughters.
The recent Dangshan church-building event is a direct result of the persecution that has lasted for half a century. The government criticized Dangshan church for build their church in an “illegal” way. Danshan church cautiously built their church in order to escape supervision from the government. The tragedy in Dangshan would never have happen if not for the pressure in 1950s, the tribulation in the revolutionary culture, the religious suppression in 1980s, and the shadow of pulling down the church buildings in recent years.
5. The July 29th Event
Dangsha church was originally built in 1921, in an area of 5 Mu (3333 square meters). After liberation (1949), the government occupied the property as a hospital. From then on, Dangshan church was like an orphan, moving here and there. The TSPM officials with government assistance even drove them out of their rented houses.
Recently they rented a 200-year-old house which is very dangerous in bad weather and on the verge of collapse. Danshan church requested the government reimburse them for the field they confiscated from the church. The government compensated them with very little money. The church did not protest because they were afraid of registration.
The event began when Danshan church built their sanctuary on a piece of land owned by a Christian. The government said that they had other plans for the land and suggested that they stop for 7 days and move to another place. Danshan church stopped for 7 days and suggested 2 other places for building the church. The government permitted neither of them, but assigned another place unfit for a church. Seeing the insincerity of the government, the Christians resumed the project after 8 days.
In July 29, 2006, the local government sent several hundred trucks, 4 excavators, and thousands of military policemen to the building site, to destroy the church.
There were about several thousand Christians there, the policemen violently dispelled them, some Christians were injured in the conflict, and over 50 were arrested. They are still in prison and the family members are denied visitation.
This is the second time in the past 3 years that the local government destroyed the church.
Some Christians arrested in the July 23rd event had been injured in the conflict. Their family members were greatly worried and even now they have not received any information. Some public security cadres disregard them and refuse to arrange for family members to obtain medical treatment, and even threatened to seriously punish the Christians and arrest even more.
The Christians in Xiaoshan greatly worry about the health of the imprisoned Christians. They have no idea of where their brothers and sisters are held, whether the injured have received proper medial treatment of if they still alive, because the public security organs did not follow legal arrest procedures. What they worry most about is that the public security bureau did not provide an arrest list and are blocking information from family members. If someone died in the prison, the government can shirk their responsibility by saying that they do not know. That would be a very serious situation. In such an urgent situation, the Chinese House Church Alliance appeal to international community and human rights organizations and freedom loving people to help the Xiaoshan Christians in the following ways by requesting that the Chinese government:
1. Provide an arrest list and details of their present situation.
2. Release all Christians.
3. Provide emergency medical treatment.
4. Give the church a proper place to worship.
5. Apologize publicly for their persecution of the Christians and reimburse them for the loss and destruction of the church.
6, Allow the international human rights organizations and the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to establish an independent Commission on Investigation on Religious Freedom in Xiaoshan, Zhejiang in order to thoroughly investigate the July 29 Church Destruction event.
In order to protect the lives of the missing brothers and sisters, and ensure they are not sentenced, and for true religious freedom for the 100,000 Christians in Xiaoshan, we urgently appeal to international human rights organizations to investigate and rescue the work in Xiaoshan.
Appeal from the Chinese House Church Alliance on August 2, 2006.
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