CHINA: Pastor Sentenced to 11 Months for “Organising Illegal Gatherings”

Aug 4, 2022 | VoM

On 5 December 2021, Panshi Church (Church of the Rock) held a Sunday service in a remote single-story house in a local water plant in Huinong District, China.

Their gathering was raided by state security personnel, local police, and personnel from the Religious Affairs Bureau.

The authorities used “illegal Christian gatherings” and “severely disrupted the social order” as reasons to take the church attendees away for questioning. The elders who were taken were registered before being sent home.

The next day, the church’s leader, Geng Zejun, was placed in administrative detention for 15 days in the name of “disrupting social order”. His wife, He Ying, and five other believers were detained by the police for 10 days and released on bail pending trial.

Two weeks after his release, Geng Zejun was summoned again by the police and detained on suspicion of “organising and sponsoring an illegal gathering”. Geng was formally arrested on 25 January and has been detained to this day.

On 13 July, Chinese government officials conducted the trial of Geng Zejun, who has been in custody since January. The trial was held via video conferencing and lasted nearly seven hours, with Geng remaining in the detention centre.

Despite pressure from the authorities, Geng refused to plead guilty. Huinong District Court charged him with “organising illegal gatherings” and recommended a sentence of 11 months.

Geng’s wife was not allowed to appear in court. She instead implored fellow believers to pray for her husband. “Thank you all for your prayers,” she said. “I implore you to raise your hands together and ask the Lord to strengthen Brother Geng; make him strong and courageous, and filled with the glory of God.”

The Chinese religious policies and regulations subject house churches to comprehensive surveillance and even repression if they refuse to join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement or refuse to accept the direct entrustment of their churches to government departments.

The Three-Self Patriotic Movement, which can appear on the surface to be initiated by Christians, has been controlled by the Communist Party since its inception. The organisation is used as a measure of political allegiance in order to facilitate ideological control over China.

In recent years, churches such as the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu have been ruthlessly suppressed. All churches and preachers who openly support Early Rain and its pastor, Wang Yi, may also become targets of surveillance or repression. This has stemmed from the local authorities’ fear of Pastor Wang Yi’s outspoken criticism of social injustice.

Geng Zejun and his congregation, Church of the Rock, have refused to accept the management of the Communist Party-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement.

Source: ChinaAid

Please Pray

Pray for Geng Zejun and his wife, as well as other Christians imprisoned in China such as Wang Yi, Zhang Shaojie, Alimujiang Yimiti and John Cao.

Pray that church leaders will know how to shepherd the Lord’s sheep in difficult situations.

Pray that Christians will remain faithful to Christ under all circumstances.