Date: June 30, 2019
(Xiamen, Fujian—June 30, 2019) Xiamen Dianqian Church has long been a refuge for faithful believers.
Located in Dianqian Village, the building is nestled into a beautiful and elegant Minnan-style yard with a century of history.
On the day authorities came to shut the church down, the congregants ate together, prayed for each other, read the Bible as a community, and pushed to spread the Gospel in Dianqian Village.
Newcomers came to Dianqian Church in Xiamen to settle in a spiritual home.
According to church leadership, the government has long had its eye on the church. Some have been required to speak to police and other officials. Others experienced illegal treatment.
Harassment started to escalate last month.
In early May, members of the fire department viewed the church property multiple times. Church leadership complied with requests to install fire protection equipment.
On May 24, a group of officials demanded the church shut down. Church leadership said officials did not follow proper law enforcement procedures and refused to listen to explanations.
One official threatened severe ramifications if the place of worship remained open.
Tensions escalated on May 29 after officials met with the church’s landlord. The meeting consensus was the church was old and decrepit and should be closed if appraisal came to the same conclusion.
In early June, church officials received a “friendly reminder” from officials about assessing a decrepit property. The document was not legitimate and valid, according to church leaders.
When officials claimed they “had assessed” the property, the church inquired how officials could make such a claim without visiting the church. Officials said no one was around when they came by. Church leadership asked how an inspection could take place if no one was around to let the officials in.
So far, any appraisal report is still unavailable to church leadership.
June 7 brought another interaction with officials. People from the Huli District Civil Affairs Bureau, the religious affairs bureau, the police department, and other groups gave an ultimatum.
The group cited various laws and regulations to conclude religious events should cease at the Dianqian Church building. Officials claimed activity consisted of illegal fellowship and preaching.
A date around June 20 was set for the cessation of activity. The deadline came without any evidence or supporting official documents.
Sunday service carried on two days later. Officials barged into the church without any papers or invitations. The crowd invaded the privacy of the congregants by taking numerous photos. Some officials stood outside Dianqian Church after the preacher finished the sermon.
One of the landlord’s sons came to visit on June 11 to warn fellowship at the church should stop. A church leader asked for a month to stop fellowship in order to move out of the complex. The son did not directly agree, but said he would discuss the idea with his brothers.
A church leader was asked to attend a scheduled meeting with several government officials. During the discussion, other officials met with some of the landlord’s family.
After the meeting, one of the landlord’s sons said church officials must stop fellowship immediately. Authorities again visited the church on June 12 to take photos and register all property.
According to church leadership, the church was forced to stop worshiping at the building as of June 11. The landlord was not willing to let Dianqian Church use the venue due to threats from officials.
Church members are thankful God gave them 10 years at the church to worship despite immense persecution.
Even though congregants are not allowed to meet at the building any longer, they refuse to stop worshiping God.
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