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CHINA: Exorbitant Fines Imposed on Landlords of Religious Venues

CHINA: Exorbitant Fines Imposed on Landlords of Religious Venues

A new strategy has raised the level of fear among the church in China. Anyone renting to a house church can be punished with a steep fine – up to $45,000. The measure, supported with much publicity, has left many churches homeless.

A Christian from an impoverished household in Luanchuan County used to host small religious gatherings throughout the year. When she saw banners displayed throughout the city threatening to impose huge fines, she stopped, fearing that she would be unable to find the money for the penalty.

In another case, the police and local officials have been harassing the landlady of a house church meeting venue in Jinshui district of Henan’s Zhengzhou city since last year. Her property was used by a church which has more than 100 congregation members.

The authorities demanded she stop allowing the Christians to use her property. At first the woman refused to obey, so in April, officials told her that “religious issues are political” and threatened to fine her if she continued renting the venue to believers. The landlady said that officials would call her practically every day to put pressure on her, they even threatened to arrest her. The woman was told that even after she ousts the believers from her property, she will still have to report to authorities when she rents out the building again. Pressured and intimidated, the landlady had no choice but to obey, and the house church ceased gathering in April.

“We have the largest number of house churches in Henan. The government is implementing such severe measures in its crackdown to eradicate house churches completely,” a member of a house church commented.

Similar situations have occurred in various regions. Sometimes, the police don’t even need to appear in person to shut down a church: a threatening phone call is sufficient to make the landlord fear repercussions.

For house churches that generally rent their venues, the suppression tactic to threaten landlords with hefty fines is detrimental – they are left with no place to congregate.

Source: Bitter Winter

  • Thank the Lord that nothing can come against the work of His Holy Spirit in building His church.
  • Pray the believers will be granted other opportunities to meet. Pray they will continue to be faithful in encouraging one another.
  • Pray the witness of the Christians in China may be used by the Lord to encourage many in authority to examine the Scriptures for themselves.

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CHINA: Police Harass Hunan Church

CHINA: Police Harass Hunan Church

Police in China’s southern Hunan Province repeatedly harassed a church, eventually attempting to close it.

On 11 November, more than 30 officials entered Huoxing Church after painting over cameras at the church door in order to mask what happened. Some officials claimed they had come to close the church.

A Christian said, “They did not show their law enforcement identification or legal documents. [The Christians] continued their service, singing hymns, praying, praising [God] and reading the Bible.”

However, the officials continued to ask them for the identification numbers on their personal ID cards for nearly three hours.

Two weeks before, Huoxing Church’s sign was smashed and three days later, authorities questioned its pastor, Zhang Ganghua, for nearly three hours. The locks on its doors were also destroyed and government personnel interrupted its church service.

During that time, the church’s power supply was cut off and two church attendees were taken into police custody and released hours later. One plainclothes official also knocked another Christian man to the ground, and he suffered a chest injury that necessitated emergency treatment. Repeatedly, the church called the authorities to report one of the incidents, but they were ignored.

Zhang then went to the police station to address the issue.

Huoxing Church also issued a strong statement calling on all levels of government to enforce the law legally and civilly. It reaffirms Christians’ right to worship as guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution.

Source: ChinaAid

  • Thank the Lord for the faithfulness of these believers who are willing to continue to worship the Lord even while being harassed by authorities. Ask the Lord to grant continued strength and healing.
  • Pray they will continue to meet for worship and spur one another on in the faith. Pray their witness will be powerful.
  • Pray for wisdom for the pastors and elders of Chinese churches as they lead their congregations and deal with the authorities.

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UGANDA: Church Closes After Repeated Attacks

UGANDA: Church Closes After Repeated Attacks

A church outside of Kampala, the capital of Uganda, closed in early August after months of harassment by local Muslims.

The final blow came on 4 August when a stone was thrown through a window, striking Pastor Moreen Sanyu of the Greater Love Church in the forehead and knocking her unconscious. After regaining consciousness, she found that most of the church members had fled for their lives. Following treatment in hospital, and the confirmation of no serious injuries, she was released.

The next Sunday, when the pastor arrived at the church, she found the building empty. No one came to the service in fear for their safety.

The church, located in a predominantly Muslim area, began in May 2017 and had grown quickly to 400 in attendance. In response to the attacks from militant Islamists, however, the attendance had begun to dwindle.

After months of enduring the pelting of rocks, together with the hurling of abusive threats, leaders of the church have decided not to continue meeting in such a dangerous area; instead, they are looking to relocate elsewhere.

Despite claims to the contrary by local Muslims, Pastor Sanyu insists that she did not target children in her ministry: “I just shared the Gospel of Christ and His love for humanity with my Muslim neighbours, and they freely accepted the Christian faith — especially when many sick people [whom] I prayed for, got healed. I did not persuade them nor steal them to join my church.”

Source: Morning Star News

  • Pray for Pastor Sanyu and the members of the church, as they consider how to proceed ministering in the future. Ask the Lord to grant them the strength required to endure, despite opposition.
  • Pray that opportunities to share the love of Christ will continue.
  • Pray those responsible for these attacks will be convicted and brought to repentance.
PAKISTAN: Police Fail to Protect Christian Girl

PAKISTAN: Police Fail to Protect Christian Girl

Pakistani authorities have been accused of failing to protect a 17-year-old Christian girl who for years has been sexually harassed and stalked by a Muslim man who threatened to throw acid on her.

The British Pakistani Christian Association said Tuesday that the girl, Samina Iqbal from the town of Rawalpindi, has been heckled since 2013 by a man 10 years her senior who is trying to get her to marry him.

Iqbal said the man has been “accosting her daily on her way to school.”

From her account, according to BPCA, he would often block her path and demand that she speak with him and marry him.

The marriage proposals at the time went against Pakistani law, which states that a bride should be at least 16 years of age, BPCA noted.

The teenager explained that the man would wait for her every day on her way to school.

“For Samina, however, the chance of meeting with him filled her with fear and dread, so much so that often she would stay at home and cry her day away having lost all hope,” BPCA added, noting that the man would also sit outside her house and yell her name.

After family talks with the man failed, Iqbal stopped attending school and did not leave her home for an entire year, becoming seriously ill and depressed.

The BPCA said the suspect has even pulled a dagger and chased away a police officer who wanted to talk to him about the case.

The watchdog group said that police have failed to deal with the man despite his threats, including one instance in which he threatened to throw acid on Iqbal.

The ongoing harassment has forced the Christian teenager to leave her job and see a number of opportunities for a better life cut off.

Sources: Christian Post, British Pakistani Christian Association