China – Christians persevere in meeting for worship despite all apposition

Barnabas Fund. Members of Wanbang Missionary Church had to meet outdoors for worship on Sunday 22 November after having been forcibly evicted from their church building earlier that month. On Thursday 12 November Chinese Public Security officials sealed off the doors and locked the church. On the morning of 22 November, three pastors of Wanbang church were summoned to a Shanghai police station for interrogation on suspicion of “engaging in illegal organisation and activities”. They were held until the afternoon. Despite intimidation from local authorities and the detention of the pastors, more than 500 dedicated church members gathered outdoors to continue the scheduled worship services. Since the building’s closure, the authorities have been unsuccessful in preventing meetings of the church. On 15 November ten police officers attempted to obstruct Pastor Cui from attending church. Members also received threatening text messages defaming the church and saying that the service had been cancelled. In spite of this, over 700 people turned up to the outdoor prayer meeting that day. In preparation for the mid-November visit of President Obama to China, the Shanghai authorities launched a city-wide search for members of Wanbang church, attempting to break up prayer and worship gatherings. All seven pastors were also issued with official notices to stop their “illegal religious activities”, which declared their pastoral status as “self-claimed illegal preachers”. On 8 November, the church website was forcibly shut down by the government’s censorship office to prevent negative reporting prior to Obama’s visit. • Pray for Christians in China, that they will know the comfort and strength of the Lord Jesus at this time, and that they will continue to have the courage to meet in the face of such opposition. • Pray that the Shanghai authorities will reverse the ban on Wanbang church and stop hounding it.

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