Another large house church in China has been raided. Shouwang Church in Beijing — one of the largest in the city — is the fourth major underground congregation shut down by the Communist government since September 2018.
The church, made up of more than 1,000 people, has been formally banned. On Saturday, March 23, at around 1:50 p.m., more than 20 police officers and other Chinese government officials reportedly raided a Bible school class at Shouwang Church.
Locks were changed out to prevent church members from returning. Shouwang Church members refused to sign a document pledging to never attend the church again, and leaders said the house church will continue to worship by adjusting meeting times and locations.
Image: Members of Shouwang Church after police halted Bible classses
The church had been charged with violating the country’s Regulations of Religious Affairs and Regulations on the Registration and Management of Social Organizations by operating without government registration.
Christianity Today reported that throughout Shouwang Church’s 26-year history, Shouwang members have refused to come under Communist authority and persevered despite persecution, with their “underground” services forced outside when evicted from their buildings in 2009, and with their founding pastor Jin Tianming under house arrest since 2011.
Image: Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church remains under arrest since a raid in December 2018.
The raid on Shouwang Church echoes recent incidents focused on large underground churches in China such as Early Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan, Zion Church in Beijing and Rongguli Church in Guangzhou. Members of Early Rain, who have maintained visibility and a public voice since the December 2018 raid on their church, issued a statement of solidarity with Shouwang.
“When we heard that Shouwang Church is being persecuted again, […] and other churches facing various pressure from the government, we kneeled down to pray to give thanks and praises to our God, because we are delighted that the bride of Christ is closely following her husband.”
Early Rain’s pastor Wang Yi remains detained with a dozen church leaders. He and others were extremely vocal about their opinion on China’s new religious regulations implemented in February of this year. The rules restrict proselytizing and charitable work, crack down on religious education for minors, limit the collection of donations, and forbid posting some faith-based content online. They also require churches to register with the government, which empowers officials to censor sermons, choose or reject pastors, and otherwise interfere with worship. The government has also begun installing facial-recognition technology in many registered churches.
A few months ago, one of Open Doors’ local ministry partners who works to equip church leaders in China offered this insight: “The situation on the ground [in China] is always changing. Don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions about what China needs. Pray for wisdom for the leaders. Pray with us.” She shared specific prayer needs for church leaders and churches in China:
Fortitude. Pray with Chinese Christians and church leaders for the fortitude to withstand increasing pressure and violent acts of persecution.
Empowerment. Pray that God would empower His church in China to reach the next generation.
Wisdom. Pray that leaders in China’s churches would have the wisdom to know how to handle the pressure they are coming under.
Workers for the harvest. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers to plant and nurture seeds that will ultimately bring forth an abundance of Kingdom fruit.
Choosing to follow Jesus takes courage in China. Get your free copy of our new Guts and Courage resource to learn more about the places in the world where Christians face pressure, violence and intimidation for their faith and get inspired to live out your walk with God with more boldness…
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.