At the end of June, the Hefei Christian Youth Fellowship informed fellow house churches that two of its leaders, Mu En and Wang Yinuo, had been given jail terms.
Mu En, 35, who has an eight-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and Wang Yinuo, 33, unmarried, to three years.
Hefei is a university city, and the Christian Youth Fellowship was established to cater to the spiritual needs of university students. From a dozen members in 2018, it grew to several hundred and attracted the attention of the CCP.
Police summoned Wang Yinuo and asked that the Fellowship join the government-controlled Three-Self Church. He refused, and a gathering of the Fellowship was raided on 18 September 2022.
Eighty-four believers were arrested. Most were released within a week, but Wang Yinuo and Mu En were identified as leaders and formally arrested.
They were committed to trial for “fraud”, now a popular charge when money is collected for an “illegal” religious organisation.
The police visited Hefei Christian Youth Fellowship members and compelled several of them to sign statements identifying themselves as “victims” and claiming they had been “cheated” and persuaded to donate. The statements were pre-written by the police, and those who refused to sign were threatened with arrest.