Earlier this month, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), police officers and religious bureau officials raided a church and forced a pastor and an elder to stop preaching.
The incident, which took place at Shenzhen Trinity Gospel Harvest Church in Shenzhen city on July 11, was conducted during a church service on Zoom. One church member, who fled to America in April, was in attendance during the virtual service as authorities surrounded the church building.
According to ChinaAid, the church had previously faced an incursion in April after authorities raided the church during a Sunday service without proof of legal documents. At the time, police officers escorted Pastor Mao Zhibin, Pastor Cao Yuan, Elder Chu, and seven other Christians to the police station.
“Today, joint force officials from the religious affairs bureau, public security department personnel, and national security agency authorities banned our church,” Pastor Mao said in a statement following the incident.
He noted that the church had not faced “such a serious situation as this” since its founding four years ago. Many dissidents of the CCP have since joined the young church as it advocates for justice in China.
Recently, Pastor Wang Yi’s minister, Pastor Mao, and Elder Shen Ling signed “A Joint Statement by Pastors: A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith.” The statement was created by Pastor Wang Yi, the founder of the Early Rain Covenant Church.
The recent church raid comes following the CCP’s 100th anniversary, which led to the arrests of hundreds of Christians and the forced inclusion of parts of President Xi Jinping’s centennial celebration speech into pastors’ sermons.
In May, the Chinese government also took down Christian accounts on the Chinese social media platform WeChat. Additionally, Bible apps on the Chinese app store were removed.