House churches raided and shut down across China
International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that last week, several house churches across China were raided or shut down by the Chinese authorities. A church leader in Shanghai, who is also the lawyer for imprisoned pastor Wang Yi, was taken away during Sunday service to the police station.
A video shared on Twitter on the 21st of March showed that Zhang Pei-Hong, a preacher at Lancun House Church in Shanghai, was standing next to a female staff from the government in a scene that seemed like the service was interrupted. She asked that Zhang and other leaders go with them to the police station for investigation. All the members were asked to register their personal information in the presence of at least a dozen police officers.
When questioned further, the female staff told Zhang that the congregation did not need to wait for his return and that they could be dismissed. Toward the end of the video, Zhang left the church with the authorities and asked the members to just pray for him. He was released later that day.
Zhang is a well-known Christian lawyer who represents several Chinese pastors: Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) Pastor Wang Yi, Pastor Joseph Gu who was once the chair of Zhejiang’s Three-Self Church, and pastors of Guizhou Living Stone Church.
According to China Aid, on the same day, Chongqing Mt. Olive Church also was raided and had its pastor taken away. On March 17, the Yunyan District Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau also issued a notice to shut down Ren’ai Reformed Church, for it repeatedly “organised illegal religious activities.”