Pray: A Chinese House Church Fled to South Korea to Worship Freely. Now They May be Sent Back to Persecution
A group of Chinese Christians who moved to Jeju Island, South Korea, in 2019 are facing deportation and expect to endure heavy persecution when they arrive home. The 60 members of Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church, a house church that is also called the Mayflower Church, moved because of severe government harassment. In a translated interview with The Stream, Pastor Pan Yonggang said the reasons they moved are complicated, but ultimately it came down to persecution they suffered because of their faith.
The Mayflower Church Escaped Persecution
The Mayflower Church, so named because their values and beliefs are much like those of the Puritans 400 years ago, are accused by the Communist Chinese government of committing some crimes. China forbids anyone from having a connection with a foreign association or company. Home churches are illegal. It also is a crime to teach the Bible to children — even one’s own children.
Before the church moved to South Korea, they were repeatedly harassed. “The policemen very frequently came to our fellowship, our gathering, and told us, ‘You need to cancel the gathering.’ We taught the children Bible. And [the police] said, ‘You cannot teach children the Bible.'”
In addition, Pastor Pan signed an open letter to the president of China, Xi Jinping, protesting the Chinese Communist Party’s new regulations on religion, ChinaAid said in a statement.
The police also threatened Pastor Pan’s landlord so that the landlord would no longer rent to him. Even after he moved to another home, the police tracked him down and threatened the new landlord, too. “So I had to move.”
Even accepting The Stream’s interview is a “severe violation of the law,” Pastor Pan explained. “It’s a big crime to give interviews to foreign media.”
How Far Will It Go?
He fully expects persecution if the church is forced to move back to China. “How far will it go? I don’t know because there’s no people like us,” who have moved in such a large group. Pastor Pan said there is no prior example to compare with their situation. “Even though we don’t know how far it will go, we are certain that [there] will be all kinds of persecution waiting for us.”
Pastor Pan told the story of five brothers from the Shanxi province in China who were arrested for attending a gospel conference in Malaysia. The charge? Illegally crossing the national border. Pastor Pan believes his group has done much more than the brothers. “After we arrived in South Korea, we did a lot of interviews with foreign media. We also applied for asylum. We [made] a lot of statements. So what we have done is much more than those five brothers. Even though we don’t know what kind of persecution [is] waiting for us, we are sure it must be more severe than [the brothers’].
Praying for Resettlement in the United States
The church now wants to come to the United States. Pastor Pan asks Christians to propose to the government that they may be offered a resettlement to the U.S. The group applied for asylum in 2019, immediately after arriving at Jeju. “So, in the legal system, it looks like we already came to the last step, like [there’s] no more room for us. … So, it seems like we don’t have options there. We want to apply for asylum in the U.S. We want to get resettlement in the United States.”
Please pray for these brothers and sisters in Christ, that God will protect them and provide a place where they may worship freely.