Church building destroyed and pastor arrested in Zhejiang, China

( [email protected] ) Apr 20, 2004 01:30 PM EDT

The pastor of a rapidly growing Chinese Christian house church was arrested just a few weeks after hundreds of security forces raided and heavily damaged a 100-year old building where his congregation gathered. According to Voice of the Martyrs, Liu Fuen, 50, pastor of the 300-member church in Dong Gang Xi village in the Bieliun district of Ningbo City, Zhejang province, had been hiding since attacks were made to his Church in two separate incidents in March.

The first attack occurred on March 11, when a group of Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers, paramilitary police and government workers converged on the building, causing major damages. Following the rampage, members of the Church were able to repair some of the damages to the house following to continue gathering and holding services. However, on March 31, police and officials returned to the building, evicting ten congregants who were praying inside and destroying the building, leaving only piles of rubble. Posters were put on display on surrounding buildings announcing that the building was the site of illegal religious activity and was being destroyed for that reason. A loudspeaker also announced this as the destruction took place.

“China’s government wants to control the church,” Todd Nettleton a spokesman for the Voice of Martyrs. “These are not troublemakers or criminals. They are simply Christian believers who gather to worship and learn more about Him.”

Following the destruction of his building, Pastor Liu Fuen went into hiding until his arrest on April 9 when six PSB officers at the home of his youngest son, Liu Yongsheng. The family has been given “Criminal Detention” paperwork for Pastor Liu and also for Liu Mingliang, Pastor Liu’s eldest son who was arrested when his home was raided by PSB officers as the congregation gathered their for Easter Sunday. If convicted, they could each face long prison terms.