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The walls of Sanjiang Church being pulled down
Photo: ChinaAid

On April 28th, government officials demolished the Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, despite a previous agreement that the building would remain largely untouched. While these officials have implied that the state-approved church was demolished because the building was much larger than permitted, many local believers view it as an attack on the growing Christian population.

The congregation, which received permission to build their worship space on 20,000 square feet, instead built a church and annex on 100,000 square feet. In late 2013, the Zhejiang Province Communist Party Secretary, Xia Baolong, toured the city and was reportedly offended by the large cross atop the church. On April 3rd, authorities served a final notice that the church would be demolished after 15 days. However, on April 7th, the church and the local authorities were finally able to reach a compromise. Although most of the building was to be saved, two levels of the seven-storey annex building were to be removed.

Despite the agreement, wrecking crews removed four floors from the annex. From there, the entire building was taken down, leaving only a pile of rubble. Church members were also detained and interrogated. At least five other churches were also torn down or had their crosses removed at the end of April.

Despite the tremendous disappointment members of the Sanjiang congregation must be experiencing at this time, pray that they will continue to meet together for worship -- realizing the importance and power of praising God in all things. May their unwavering commitment to the Lord, and to His command to love their enemies, inspire many others to learn more about Jesus. Ask God to grant wisdom and grace to both the local government officials and the church leaders in the coming weeks and months, so that tensions will lessen, healing can take place, and all remaining churches will be left untouched. May He also work out His higher and greater plans for this congregation and those of the other damaged churches in the community (Romans 8:28).

For more information on China's persecuted church, please visit the China Country Report.