China Detains 10 Christian leaders who attended Lausanne Congress
A religious rights leader said recently that Chinese authorities detained at least 10 pastors of house churches who were delegates to the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism held last year.
The move is seen to be retaliatory because the officially-recognized Three Self Church felt “snubbed” when it was only invited to the event that was held last October as “observers” compared to the 10 pastors from Inner Mongolia who were all invited as delegates, Christian Newswire said.
The Christian pastors were picked up in raids last April 16 that were conducted by the Criminal Police Brigade and the Domestic Security Department of Hohhot’s Public Security Bureau, Worthy News said.
A rights activist told Christian Newswire that among those detained is Pastor Liu Jingtao who was a key Lausanne coordinator for Inner Mongolia, Christian Newswire said.
The names of the other detainees are not yet known. China Aid Association told Worthy News, “Because of the large number of people who have been detained, the names of the others are still being confirmed.” All the churches of pastors who had been picked up were closed and sealed.
The Christians from Hohhot, the capital city of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region were detained on “suspicion of fraud” for being invited to the Lausanne Congress which was held in Cape Town, South Africa, according to Worthy News.
Criminal detention is usually the first step towards a legal process that includes trial, conviction and a jail term sentence, Christian Newswire said.
Pastors of house churches in Ordos, another Inner Mongolian city, were also “criminally detained.” Details of the arrests are still up for confirmation, according to Worthy News.
Chinese authorities were further upset because as mere “observers” of the Lausanne Congress, they were rendered ineligible to sign the Lausanne Covenant on worldwide evangelism, Worthy News said.
According to CAA, because China’s officially recognized Three-Self Movement prohibits evangelization outside of its churches, this alone already renders it unable to sign the covenant, Worthy News reported.
Hohhot police told Worthy News they had done nothing wrong, and that the Christians were picked up on “suspicion of fraud” because they were “engaged in fundraising” even if they are not recognized as government clergy.
The fundraising that the police referred to was efforts by the home pastors to raise funds to help poorer churches from other countries so that they could join the Lausanne Congress, Worthy News said.
Harassed at airport
Last year, when house church delegates tried to leave for the Lausanne Congress, they were stopped at the airport by the Public Security Ministry’s Domestic Security Department, according to Christian Newswire.
CAA told Worthy News, “Angered that its official church was not the sole representative of Christianity in mainland China, Beijing spared no effort in stopping the 200 invited Chinese house church pastors and leaders from going to Cape Town.”
The Evangelical congress is named after the city where it was first held in 1974, namely Lausanne, Switzerland, according to Worthy News.
Government officials in China are reported to have privately admitted that there are some 130 million Christians in the communist country, many of whom would rather go to underground house churches which are not government controlled, Worthy News said.