Chinese communist authorities reportedly raided a children’s Bible class on Saturday morning, closing a large underground church and confiscating 4,000 books.
The last raid, according to South China Morning Postperformed at the Rongguili Church in Guangzhou, which became the third unregistered Protestant church to be closed by authorities this season.
More than 60 officers stormed the classroom, investigating the church until evening and confiscating church property, including 4,000 books.
An unnamed Rongguili church member recounted what happened when the police arrived: “They read law enforcement notices stating that our venue was a gathering. illegal. [that had engaged in] illegal publication and illegal fundraising and confiscated all Bibles.
Officers registered the identities of worshipers, including children, and took their phones.
“They then checked our identities again and warned us not to return. [to the church] before letting us go,” the person said.
The only arrest in this case involved a parent who attempted to photograph the scene.
Rongguili Church was established in 1978 and attracts 5,000 worshipers every week, positioning itself as one of China’s leading underground churches.
The Yuexiu District Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau announced that since all Rongguili Church activities have been suspended, believers should turn to the other 15 registered Protestant churches in Guangzhou.
Last week, in another major raid, 100 Christians, including Pastor Wang Yi and his wife, Jiang Rong, were detained at the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu.
After the raid, the church released a letter claiming that three believers had been tortured by police while in police custody.
Bob Fu, founder and chairman of the persecution watchdog ChinaAid, condemned what he called “a major escalation of religious persecution in China.”
“Ironically, this larger scale of International Human Rights Day arrests and crackdowns show that Xi’s regime is deliberately making itself the enemy of universal values, such as religious freedom for all,” he said. Fu at the time.
“ChinaAid calls on the international community to condemn these arbitrary arrests of innocent religious believers and urges the Chinese regime for their immediate release.
Early Rain Covenant Church also reported that its Bible classes had been shut down by Communist Party authorities.
The church-affiliated Xinjin County Legal Learning Center said he had been targeted since Dec. 9.
“More than 50 seminary and humanities college students have been detained at the Xinjin County Legal Learning Center and will be deported to their hometowns,” he added. ChinaAid reported. “Pastors, elders and deacons were seized, the college’s four dormitories were broken into, and all the students living there were forcibly taken away without any legal papers or excuses.”
The raids have drawn international attention and many are calling for prayers amid the crackdown on believers. Ben Sasse, the young senator from Nebraska, urged Twitter“Christians, please pray for Pastor Wang Yi and the persecuted church in China.”