On 11 February, Su Tianfu, pastor of Huoshi Church, the largest house church in Guiyang, Guizhou, received a notice from the Baiyun District Court, saying that the Nanming District Religious Affairs Bureau had demanded that he fulfil his obligation to pay a fine of more than 7 million yuan.
Su, along with imprisoned Huoshi Church Pastor Yang Hua, were first notified of the fine last May, which authorities claimed they incurred because they took that amount in “illegal income”. The pastors, however, maintained that the money had been freely donated by the church’s congregation and only used on church expenses. They appealed several times until the court handed them a definitive verdict, making the fine mandatory.
Authorities hired an assessment company on 23 January and the organisation ruled that the church’s total property, including the items inside it, were worth 5.36 million yuan. The court subsequently granted the company permission to auction the church and its property, with the final sale going to the “state-owned enterprise” Nanming Investment Group for 5.12 million yuan on 11 February.
When Wang Hongwu, the wife of Yang, heard that the property had been sold, she speculated that officials may soon accuse Pastor Su of “divulging state secrets,” as they did her husband when he attempted to prevent them from confiscating a church hard drive. Yang is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence and has faced torture and severe illness while in prison.
Source: China Aid
- Ask the Lord to uphold Pastor Su at this time of shock and disappointment. Pray the Lord’s protection will be upon him and that words of wisdom may be granted as he deals with those in authority.
- Pray the church members will be all the more determined to meet together and encourage one another.
- Pray for Pastor Yang in prison; ask the Lord to grant him the physical, emotional and spiritual strength he needs.