Date: August 9, 2022
|The exterior of Wang Family Wedding Church
(Photo: ChinaAid source)
(Guangdong—August 9, 2022) A house church in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, faces a hefty fine as authorities continue to crack down on house churches that are not registered with the government and therefore deemed “illegal.” Members of the church have asked for the prayers of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Wang Family Wedding Church was founded in 2006 and had a congregation that peaked at 1,500 attendees. The church was raided by the religious bureau of Xiangzhou district, Zhuhai city, on September 27, 2016; officials confiscated more than 40 computers and 300,000 yuan (44,310 USD) from the church and arrested its pastor, Wei Xiaomei, her husband, Li Bingxin, and staff member Zhang Tao (a Macau resident). The couple and Zhang Tao were charged with “fraud” in 2017.
The three Christians were released on probation in October 2018, but in 2021 authorities again imposed multiple administrative penalties on this 1,500-member church, including confiscations, fines, and late payments totaling 36 million yuan (5,317,200 USD).
The church hired a legal team to respond to the lawsuit, and the case went through a trial and administrative reconsideration phase, followed by an administrative litigation request to the Zhuhai Intermediate People’s Court, which still has not gained any progress.
On July 7, the three Christians involved in the case received an “administrative compulsion” letter serving as a reminder and request for them to pay the hefty fine or the court would enforce it.
According to the prayer letter made public on July 25, Huxun Zhuanchun, a member of Wang Family Wedding Church, asked to pray for the following:
1. Pray for the pastor and co-workers who are punished; pray that they will have the strength and wisdom to face penalties.
2. Pray for the law enforcement and judicial personnel in Zhuhai city, including the Zhuhai Religious Bureau, the Public Security Bureau, and the Intermediate People’s Court.
3. Pray for the team of lawyers representing them.
4. To combat accusations of illegal acts, we need more lawyers to participate, so let’s pray for more lawyers to provide us with legal services.
This church has in possession a property on Jiuzhou Avenue in Zhuhai, which spans about 700 square meters, which Pastor Wei Xiaomei and Macau native Zhang Tao bought in 2009 as a venue for gathering for the church. In March and July 2014, they purchased two more suites, 1023 and 1025 on Jiuzhou Avenue, totaling more than five million yuan, of which eight percent was a love offering from Zhang Tao and the rest from other brothers and sisters of the church.
The public security authorities claimed that the church’s collection of tithes constituted fraud. This accusation is unjustified, and the evidence supposedly collected in many places is through coercion and was false. The willing givers were absurdly turned into “fraudsters” by the public security authorities.
Informed church members revealed that in 2016, the Zhuhai District’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission started the case, and the investigation and process were led by the Civil Affairs Bureau against the church. At first, the National Security Bureau set the direction of the inquiry in the name of looking into a “cult” but was unable to find any clues in this regard; therefore, it banned the church on the grounds that it was not registered with the government, and finally attached criminal charges to the case. The hefty penalties have increased, and the goal of destroying the church is clear.
~Gao Zhensai, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid
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