News of the recent crackdown on the Shouwang Church, one of the largest house churches in Beijing, has sent shockwaves across the fellowship of house churches in China, with many pastors now urging their flocks to stand alongside Shouwang in prayer and support.
Pastor Wang Shuangyuan of the New Tree Church, another house church in Beijing, says he was detained and interrogated by police for offering moral support to Shouwang by attending their open-air service. The following is an excerpt of an open letter he sent to the Christian community, translated by the Christian activist organisation ChinaAid:
Dear chief shepherds and co-workers:
I am the pastor of New Tree Church of Beijing. On May 1, I attended for the second time the outdoor gathering of Shouwang Church (The first time was on April 10). At 8 a.m., I was taken away by DSPS (Domestic Security Protection Squad) agents and was released after 8 a.m. on May 3. The whole process lasted 48 hours and I would like to share this experience of mine with you.
After April 10, my door has also been blocked on weekends. Every week, I had to stay outside ahead of time in order to attend the Sunday activities of New Tree Church. Last week, I went to stay in a hotel well ahead of the weekend so that I could have the opportunity to attend Shouwang Church’s outdoor gathering on May 1.
In Global Times’ editorial on April 26, New Tree Church sensed from the cautious official words the government’s determination to isolate and attack Shouwang Church. New Tree Church supports me in attending the outdoor gatherings of Shouwang Church and our intention is just to give them company, not to confront the government. We are prepared to pay a price for this. However, if this case is not handled well, it would also be a great loss to the government. I hope I can have an opportunity to meet with high-ranking officials of the government and once again tell them in a nice and gentle manner our position in faith and request that the government find a workable way out for the house churches so as to achieve a win-win situation. If not, we would rather stand “guilty” together with Shouwang Church. This is not a threat but the helplessness of our conscience!
I haven’t got an opportunity to meet with the high-ranking officials of the government, so I have to let people pass on my ideas to them, step by step, in the hope that these high-ranking officials can hear my words. I want to make this statement to the government: We are a kind-hearted and peaceful social group and historical problems left in the relationship between church and state have relegated us to this situation. If the government can take this good opportunity and handle this incident well, we as a social group will not only take it as an unfailing kindness from the government but also regard it as a chance of having more ways to contribute our efforts to this nation and society and help carry its burdens. Our hope is that the government will let Shouwang Church use the site it has bought, and this is also the hope of other churches regarding their legal sites of worship. If the government thinks it is still too difficult or too much is required to take this step, we request that they not disperse the gatherings of Shouwang Church. [Read full letter here.]]