The Xuncheng (Zion) Reformed Church has faced repeated raids and arrests in recent years, as the government attempts to forcibly shut down the church. The most recent incident, which took place on 25 July, involved a raid on a youth summer camp.
As the church anticipated a three-day youth camp, starting on 24 July, the believers met for Sunday worship and determined to spread the gospel message despite any opposition they would potentially encounter. “We are willing for the Word of the Lord to spread quickly, even if our own interests will suffer as a result,” they proclaimed. “Therefore, we, in this church, have also been gathering in the name of the Lord and making it as public as possible.”
On the second day of the church’s youth ministry programme, police officers and representatives from the religious affairs bureau burst into the building where the believers were meeting. Four Christian leaders were apprehended, and each one of them was given a 15-day “administrative detention”. Bibles, mobile phones, and other belongings were confiscated the following day.
The four arrested Christians have all faced detentions before. Pastor An Yankui and Zhang Chenghao had each been sentenced to one year in prison for attending a Christian conference in Malaysia. In June of this year, Wang Yingjie and his wife Wang Ying served 15-day detentions as part of the authorities’ ongoing harassment of their church.
When this youth camp had been raided, and these church leaders detained, the children attending the summer camp that day, were left in the care of Pastor An’s wife and the wife of Zhang Chenghao. The authorities summoned the youths’ parents to the camp and permitted them to leave with their children as their names were called. Some of the parents spoke with law enforcement officers about their children’s Bibles, which had been confiscated during the raid.