(Nanchong, Sichuan—Jan. 23, 2015) A house church gathering of more than 70 Christians in China’s southwestern Sichuan province was raided by police officers on Tuesday, and more than 20 people were taken into custody, among which were two pastors and two missionaries.
More than 70 Christians from various places gathered at a meeting held by Langzhong House Church in Langzhong, Nanchong at 9 a.m. on Tuesday at a place called the Bamboo Mountain Villa. The meeting was for local house church representatives to discuss how to overcome their estrangements with each other.
At 10:30 a.m., dozens of plainclothes officers from the local public security bureau and police station raided the meeting, dispersing the worshippers and detaining more than 20 for attending an “illegal assembly.”
“A total of nine people have been [placed under administrative detention],” said Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance. “Five of them, including Pastor Li Ming, [one of Langzhong House Church’s leaders], have been sentenced to 15 days. The four others were sentenced to 10-days administrative detention. The other 14 who were initially detained have been released.”
Others still held at the Shaxi Township Police Station in Langzhong include Pastor Li Mingbo, another Langzhong House Church leader, Pastor Liu Yong, from a house church in Chengdu, a Langzhong Church elder named Wang, Pastor Sun and his wife, Ma Ying, the two missionaries from Mianyang, and three Langzhong Church members: Zhou Chunyan, Chen Yihui, and Liang Renyan.
“Their cell phones were all confiscated,” one worshipper said. “Finally they gave a cell phone to one of the church members who called me. I said I had already come back home and asked him where he was. He said he was still at the police station. He said he hadn’t been released and explained how he had been able to call me.”
When China Aid’s Hong Kong-based reporter called the Shaxi Police Station to ask about the incident, he was told that the “public security bureau is investigating this incident. If you want an answer, you can go to our public security bureau for inquiries.”
A Langzhong House Church gathering was raided on Dec. 24, 2014, while a group of Christians prepared for a Christmas celebration the next day. Three church members were placed under administrative detention and have since been released.