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Courageous Chinese Christians “meet in secret” after Sichuan three-self church shutdown


12 March 2020

“The more the government persecutes us, the more actively we’ll share the Gospel,” said a Christian in China after the authorities shut down a church in Sichuan province. “As long as we worship God, His temple stays in our hearts.”

Police broke into the building of a state registered “three-self” church in the provincial capital Chengdu and ordered the pastor to stop holding gatherings on 25 November 2019. Soon after, the 200 members dispersed into small groups and began to meet in secret.

The Chengdu church with its cross and sign (left) and after they were removed by the authorities (right)
The Chengdu church with its cross and sign (left) and after they were removed by the authorities (right) 
[Image credit: Bitter Winter]

Officers took down the cross and the church name sign over its entrance before sealing the building. They then posted a guard outside for more than 20 days to prevent Christians from re-entering.

Members of the congregation said that before the church was shut down, they applied for a permit at the local Religious Affairs Bureau, but were refused.

Church sources say that according to the draconian new Regulations on Religious Affairs, introduced by the government in February, all churches without a religious activity venue registration certificate would be deemed “illegal”. But when churches apply for such permits, the Religious Affairs Bureau does not approve them and the authorities use this as a pretext to shut them down.

The measures are part of an on-going crackdown by the authorities on state-regulated “three-self” churches and unofficial “house churches” in China, that has seen many churches shut across the country, and crosses removed from church buildings.