A full-time house church evangelist was arrested in China's Henan Province, along with his father, a house church pastor, according to a Texas-based religious rights group.
Ma Shulei, the evangelist and Ma Yinzhou, his 58 year old father, were detained in Mianchi County, Sanmenxia City, China Aid Association (CAA) said in a statement released on Wednesday.
On Sept 26, Ma Shulei returned home from Yunnan Province after working as a house church missionary to visit his father. Officials were notified and went to the Ma's residence to detain Ma Shulei but found only his father.
CAA reported that they arrested and interrogated the father and forced him to reveal the whereabouts of his son although his father could not be persuaded. Ma Shulei turned himself in on Oct 2, so that his father could be released, however, both are still in custody CAA reported.
"To hold the father in order to arrest the son is certainly a very harsh tactic to use against two innocent individuals," Bob Fu said. "We urge the Chinese government to immediately release Pastor Ma and his son."
In another similar circumstance, Ma Shulei and his father were detained in Beijing in 2002 for more than 40 days after a church leader’s meeting was raided by police. They were put on probation and ordered to report to the police every five days, CAA said.
However, the son violated his probation and escaped to Yunnan to serve as a house church missionary, CAA reported and then he graduated from a Chinese seminary in Myanmar in 2002.
China allows Christians to worship under the state-sanctioned churches, but they are strictly monitored by the government. House churches came out as a result of Christians who refused to register under the government and to have restrictions placed on their church activities.