Tian Min-ge, Su Dean, Prominent Leaders of Fangcheng House Church of Henan Arrested
Contact: China Aid Association, Inc., 267-205-5210, 432-686-8355 fax, info@ChinaAid.org, http://www.monitorchina.org/
GANSU PROVINCE, January 8 /Christian Newswire/ -- China Aid has learned from well-known Chinese House church historian Mr. Zhang Yinan that on December 20, 2007, the prominent leaders of the Fangcheng parent house church, Tian Ming-ge and Su Dean, were detained by local police in Jiuquan City. Su and Tian Min-ge, also known as Tian Jin, were in the midst of conducting a church service with fellow co-worker, Wang Hongliang, when local authorities disrupted the gathering and detained the pastors. The three church leaders were arraigned under the charges of "gathering in an illegal assembly under the guise of religion." Mr. Wang was released after serving 15 days detention, while Tian and Su's penalties have been elevated to criminal detention on January 5, 2008. With a shaved head and donning prison garb, the 71 year old missionary, Tian Jian, was escorted by authorities from Jiuquan Detention Center to the Fangcheng County Public Security Bureau of Henan.
Tian Jin, affectionately known as "Uncle Jin", has been intricately involved in the development and growth of the Chinese House Church since becoming a Christian in 1977. Retired and unmarried, Tian has devoted the past 20 years of his life to full-time missionary work in China. He founded the management team of Daqing Church, Heilongjiang province and in July of 1994, was elected as one of the seven leaders of the Fangcheng parent church in his home county. In 1997, Tian was involved in the missionary work to unite all of the house churches in China. Together with Zhang Rongliang and leaders from several different denominations, he worked with the counsel to educate and unite the different denominations in orthodox Christian doctrine. The group also officially declared that the Chinese house church was not a cult. Since then, Tian has made indefatigable efforts in eliminating the rumors, misunderstandings and splits among the various denominations. Zhang Rangliang is currently serving a 7-1/2 year sentence for his involvement with the house church.
In the spring of 1994, Tian was arrested by PSB officials for receiving Pastor Dennis Balcombe from Hong Kong. After generating much concern from the international community, the case forced prominent Chinese lawyers, Ye Xiaowen and Han Wenzao, two leaders from State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) and TSPM to defend the religious policies of the Chinese Communist Party. In the end, Tian was released from prison on medical parole. Tian was again arrested in 2007 by Fengcheng officials, while teaching Christianity outside of his home town. He was released after serving a one month sentence.
Su Dean, a friend and co-worker of Tian's, was commissioned by the Fengcheng parent church to teach in Sichuan Province. An eloquent lecturer, Su has spoken in over 30 counties and cities in Sichuan. At one time Su oversaw a ministry of more than 200,000 Christians He also led efforts in the training and equipping of full-time missionaries. For their unwavering devotion to the progress and growth of the Chinese house church, Both Su and Tian carry great influence amongst the united underground believers in China.
The arrest of these highly respected and founding members of the house church comes but two days after the Chinese Communist's politburo held a national session on the implementation of its "religious freedoms" policy. During the conference, President Hu Jintao, reiterated his party's past position on religious affairs and expressed new ideas on implementing religious freedom in China. This latest proposal strategy will be measured by the way Tian and Su are treated in the coming weeks. In light of over 50 years of persecution amongst its leaders and members, the house church remains weary of the CPC's promising rhetoric.
With the privilege of hosting the upcoming Olympic Games, the religious policies of the Chinese Communist Party should become more progressive. The international community should use the Tian/Su Incident to urge the Chinese Communists party to keep their constitutional promise on religious freedom. It has been 10 years since the CPC signed the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is time that they kept their promise on religious matters.