Date: May 16, 2023
USA (International Christian Concern)—The heavily persecuted Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church, often called the “Mayflower Church,” was granted asylum in the United States and made their final voyage to Texas last month.
The Mayflower Church’s entire congregation left China in 2019 due to religious persecution to seek asylum in South Korea. When they could not receive refugee status in South Korea, they began to see resettlement in the United States.
Not only did the Korean government refuse to grant them refugee status, but back home, they recorded at least 56 times when their family members were summoned or threatened by Chinese authorities during their two-year stay.
Named “traitors,” they were accused of “collusion with foreign forces” and “subversion of state power,” charges that could easily land them in jail. In addition, the police told their family members that a cult misled these Christians and that their family’s education and work could be negatively affected if they did not return to China.
In 2022, ICC’s regional manager for Southeast Asia visited church leaders in Thailand. As a last resort, Pastor Pan Yongguang and his congregation decided to leave Korea for Thailand in August 2022. Yet, the Southeast Asian country was infiltrated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Chinese agents followed and filmed the team at their hotels, restaurants, and other locations.
While in Thailand, the congregation sought protection from religious persecution with the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. However, they traveled on 15-day tourist visas, hoping their applications could be processed unprecedently quickly. Instead, the group was detained in Thailand for several months due to visa violations.
The church eventually departed for the United States after their UNHCR application was approved after nearly nine months of waiting. Freedom Seekers International, a nonprofit that helps people fleeing religious persecution, worked with them to resettle in a northeastern city in Texas.
Church members believed that the Lord would make a way throughout their journey, as He has been with them on this arduous journey.
The congregation is now settling into life in the United States and has plans to stay permanently, ending their three-year search for a new, free home. Please join ICC in praising the Lord that He has brought the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church into safety at last.
HOW TO PRAY: Pray for this congregation as they adjust to life in the US. Pray for them to remain united and strong in their faith. Pray for strength for churches throughout China as they endure harassment.