08/08/2022 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the preacher and a church coworker from Xuncheng Reformed Church in China’s Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, arrested in November 2021 for “illegal border crossing,” finally had their day in court Friday, Aug. 5.
But they will have to wait longer for any resolution of their case.
Minister An Yankui and Zhang Chenghao were arrested and detained last November for attending a 2020 Christian conference in Malaysia hosted by prominent Chinese Indonesian Pastor Stephen Tong. Five other Christians were arrested and incarcerated for the same charge but released earlier this year. An and Zhang have been in jail for nine months.
At Friday’s hearing, An and Zhang’s lawyers filed an objection to the court’s jurisdiction of the case and asked for a withdrawal. They argued that Fenyang City court does not have authority. The judge called a recess to consider the requests and will announce a new trial later. The same judge presided over the other five Christians and has shown bias against An and Zhang.
In addition, the wives of the two church leaders were recently given 15-day detentions.
Minister An’s wife, Yao Congya, was taken to Taiyuan’s Yingze police station for interrogation last Thursday. Hours later, she notified her family that she was given a 15-day administrative detention for “illegal gathering (worship at a hotel on April 3).” Authorities claimed that the enforcement of her punishment had been delayed due to the pandemic.
Zhang’s wife, Guo Juan, was also placed under a 15-day administrative detention at the end of Friday’s trial. Police said they were finally able to locate and place her under detention.
The heavily persecuted house church sent out prayer requests as they are concerned that their remaining preacher, Wang Yingjie, will be taken away for administrative detention:
“Please pray for us. May God lead Xuncheng Church's future path and sustain every person who is weak.”
“China’s abuse of its legal system continues to criminalize Christians who refuse to submit to the communist government’s control,” said Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia. “From the intentional arrests of the wives of minister An and brother Zhang, to the trumped-up charges slapped on them, the sinister regime considers Christians an enemy of the state for merely practicing their faith. The U.S. government and global community should continue to follow these cases of religious persecution and pin Beijing down on human rights violations whenever possible.”
Since 1995, ICC has served the global persecuted church through a three-pronged approach of advocacy, awareness, and assistance. ICC exists to bandage the wounds of persecuted Christians and to build the church in the toughest parts of the world.