For the third time in recent months, authorities in China have reportedly arrested a large group of house church Christians gathered together in worship. According to sources, more than 100 house church leaders were arrested in the Henan Province on August 6.
According to UK-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide, the group was beginning a two-week retreat when more than 200 military police, Public Security Bureau (PSB) and other officers surrounded the venue. No arrest warrants or official identification papers were shown during the arrest. The raided meeting of the 100 house church leaders was held at the home of Xiang Zi, the wife of one of the retreat organizers. She was arrested along with their three children, aged between eight and eleven years. According to an eyewitness cited by the reporting organization, China Aid Association, the children were crying and greatly distressed as they were dragged away.
The retreat was sponsored by the non-denominational house church network, Henan House Church. Those arrested came from various provinces, including Heilongjiang and Liaoning, as well as different areas throughout Henan in central eastern China. Amongst those arrested are the leaders Zhang Wanshun of Sanmenxia City, Zhang Tianyun of Nanyang City and Yu Guoying of Tongxu County.
A church leader from Yima County, Sanmenxia City in Henan was also arrested on his way to the retreat. He was expected to bring copies of Christian literature, including the Christian Life Quarterly Magazine, to the retreat participants. His house was raided and significant amounts of Christian literature were confiscated.
This is the most recent in a series of mass arrests of unregistered Protestant Christians in China and is what sources feel is further proof of the increased crackdown on the house churches.
CSW is urging those concerned to raise these cases and the broader crackdown against unregistered Christians with the Chinese authorities.
Stuart Windsor, National Director of CSW, said: “This is the third time we are aware of in recent months that China has arrested a large group of house church Christians simply for meeting together for their own encouragement. This is further evidence of the growing crackdown on house churches in China. CSW urges the international community to call on China to address the worsening pressure it is placing on unregistered believers and its flagrant violation of basic human rights standards."
CSW is a human rights charity working on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs. They also promote religious liberty for all.