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Dennis Balcombe
Photo: ChinaAid

On Saturday, April 20th, a well-known U.S. church leader, Dennis Balcombe, was held by police under house arrest following a raid on a house church revival meeting in the Chinese city of Nanyang (Henan province). The raid took place at about 10:00 a.m., after the commencement of what had originally been planned as a three-day revival meeting.

When the 70 attendees gathered that morning, they all handed over their cell phones to a designated person from the organizing church. This was a security precaution to prevent the phones from becoming tracking devices that would lead authorities to their meeting site. They then boarded a bus to the meeting venue at a retreat centre in the Wolong district of the city.

Not long after the meeting began, several dozen police, Domestic Security Protection (DSP) agents and Religious Affairs Bureau officials swarmed into the room. Without showing any identification, they began filming and photographing the event. The DSP agents then proceeded to finger print and palm print each person at the meeting. Every one of the attendees was interrogated (while a written record of the questioning was taken) and mandated to sign police documents.

"This latest wave of religious persecution shows that the situation for religious freedom in China continues to worsen," states ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu. "We urge the Chinese authorities to immediately release Pastor Dennis Balcombe and his two coworkers from Hong Kong. The officers who abused their powers by raiding a peaceful prayer service should be held accountable."

Another incident of concern took place on April 1st in Pingdingshan (also within the province of Henan), where seven house church leaders were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to 7 1/2 years on cult charges. More information about persecution in China can be found at the China Country Report.

May these Chinese believers and their church leaders remain steadfastly committed to the Lord who has promised to be "an ever-present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). Pray that He will swiftly intervene, revealing His power and might not only to each of the believers personally, but also to their persecutors...so that many more names will be added to the Lamb's "Book of Life."