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Photo: ChinaAid

The Chinese government has ordered the closure of more than a dozen house churches in the southern province of Hainan in recent weeks and many others have been threatened. On May 26th, while the Sanya Hosanna Church was holding a morning worship service, several people from the Religious Affairs Bureau and the neighbourhood committee came to deliver a document with the title, "Announcement by the Hongqi Street Community of the Voluntary Dissolution of Irregular and Illegal Religious Meeting Sites." They told the believers that if they met again the next week, then the officials would take measures, holding them accountable for the consequences.

The local neighbourhood committee also exerted pressure on the landlord to stop renting the meeting site to the church, which was given 15 days' notice to move out. The leader of the church was also restricted from going to Hong Kong to attend a special conference; the reason given was that it might jeopardize national security and national interests.

Also on May 26th, three other Sanya house churches (Elim Church, Bethel Church and Xinju Church) faced the same kind of persecution. Two weeks earlier, Sanya's Mengai Church, Hexing Church, and three other house churches were shut down. A church in Haikou has experienced similar treatment, and several other churches have been forcibly closed. In addition, some churches in the Baoting county have been shut down.

"Closing a dozen churches in Hainan is an alarming sign that little has changed with Xi Jinping as president," said ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu. "The government is carrying out its plans to 'eradicate' the independent house church movement, a crackdown that would affect up to 100 million people. China must end this repression if it wants global respect as a rising power."

Pray that these believers will be greatly encouraged spiritually, cultivating a deeper relationship with the Lord as they embrace the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:7-10). Ask that His faithful servants be granted mercy and favour with the officials of the Religious Affairs Bureau and members of the neighbourhood committee. May their oppressors discover the joy and peace of personally knowing Jesus, as witnessed in the lives of these Christians...even in the midst of life's challenges.