At Least 10 House Church Leaders in Jail Because of the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization
Contact: Rachel Sparkman, Media Coordinator, 888-889-7757, Rachel@ChinaAid.org; Mark Shan, Spokesperson, 267-205-5210, Mark@ChinaAid.org; both with China Aid Association; www.ChinaAid.org, www.MonitorChina.org
HOHHOT, Inner Mongolia, April 26, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- At least 10 house church pastors who were involved in the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism have been criminally detained as the Chinese government starts "settling the score" in the wake of the snub last fall against China's official church.
On April 16, ten house church pastors from Hohhot, Inner Mongolia were criminally detained by the Hohhot Public Security Bureau's Domestic Security Department and the Criminal Police Brigade on "suspicion of fraud" for their involvement in the October 2010 Lausanne Congress, according to ChinaAid sources. Criminal detention is the first step of the legal process that leads to a trial, conviction and sentencing to a jail term.
House church leaders in another Inner Mongolian city, Ordos, have also been criminally detained in relation to the Lausanne congress, according to another ChinaAid source. Details were still being confirmed.
Hohhot police gave a verbal explanation of the "suspicion of fraud" charge, saying it stemmed from "persons not recognized by the government as clergy engaged in fund-raising activities."
The police were referring to the fact that when the Chinese pastors registered to attend the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, they not only did not apply for a travel stipend from the congress organizers, they even actively participated in fund-raising efforts and donated money to help poor churches in other developing countries to raise travel funds so that pastors from these countries could travel to attend the Lausanne gathering as well.
Chinese authorities felt snubbed by the Lausanne organizers, who invited house church representatives as official delegates but Three-Self representatives were invited as "observers" only. This was actually due to the Three-Self's own regulations that prohibit proselytizing outside Three-Self churches, which meant that the Three-Self representatives could not sign the Lausanne covenant that requires delegates to engage in worldwide evangelism. Angered that its official church was not the sole representative of Christianity in mainland China, Beijing spared no effort in stopping the 200 invited Chinese house church pastors and leaders from going to Capetown.
The 10 pastors from Inner Mongolia were all barred at the airport from leaving the country by the Domestic Security Department of the Public Security Ministry, who forcibly restricted their freedom.
In April this year, local governments across China started to "settle the score" with the pastors who had actively participated in Lausanne last year. Hohhot, Inner Mongolia is a typical case. Pastor Liu Jingtao was the first to be apprehended. Because of the large number of people who have been detained, the names of the others are still being confirmed. Pastor Liu was the Lausanne organizer for Inner Mongolia.
The meeting sites of these pastors' churches have all been closed down and sealed by the police.