China: Pastor of heavily-persecuted church hospitalized after attack by communist authorities

This photo taken on May 22, 2013 shows Chinese Catholics, who belong to an 'underground' church which is not recognized by the Chinese government, arriving to attend a mass in Donglu, Hebei Province.
This photo taken on May 22, 2013 shows Chinese Catholics, who belong to an "underground" church which is not recognized by the Chinese government, arriving to attend a mass in Donglu, Hebei Province. | AFP via Getty Images/MARK RALSTON

The pastor of a heavily-persecuted house church in China’s southwest Guizhou Province was hospitalized after being detained and brutally beaten by Chinese Communist Party authorities.

Persecution watchdog China Aid reports that on May 23, as Pastor Yang Hua of Guiyang Living Stone Church planned to visit Christians in Qingdao, police seized and transported him to their station. 

There, a leader of the Guiyang Yunyan District Party Committee punched the pastor, injuring him so severely that an official called emergency medical personnel, who then transported the pastor to a nearby hospital.

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Since founding Guiyang Living Stone Church in 2009, the pastor has experienced ongoing persecution at the hands of communist authorities. China Change notes that initially, the church didn’t attract much attention, but it grew rapidly, doubling parishioners each year, it came under increasing scrutiny from Chinese authorities. 

In 2015, Guiyang City government officials forcibly shut down the church and one year later  sold it to a commercial group for more than $779,909 (5,000,000 yuan), a sum Chia Aid notes was “much lower than its actual assessed value.”

That same year, CCP officials apprehended Yang, falsely charged him with “deliberately divulging state secrets,” and sentenced him to serve 2.5 years in prison. Though he was released in 2018 after serving the full term of his sentence, he continued to face scrutiny from the CCP. 

Members of the pastor’s family told China Aid that police would intensify their surveillance of the pastor on a “sensitive” day or whenever “potential disturbance or trouble" emerged. During those times, authorities forced Yang to travel away from the area or place him under house arrest with 20 CCP officers guarding his door. 

During late August in 2018, Pastor Wang Yi, head of the heavily-persecuted Early Rain Covenant Church, traveled to Guiyang to visit Yang. The two pastors encouraged each other to “hold fast to the faith,” and three months later, CCP authorities arrested Wang and imprisoned him.

Numerous reports have documented how religious persecution in China intensified in 2020, with thousands of Christians affected by church closures and other human rights abuses. 

Authorities in China are also continuing their crackdown on Christianity by removing Bible Apps and Christian WeChat public accounts as new highly restrictive administrative measures on religious staff went into effect earlier in May. 

Open Doors USA’s World Watch List ranks China as the 17th-worst country in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians. The organization notes that all churches are perceived as a threat if they become too large, too political or invite foreign guests.

Christians are not the only religious minority to face persecution at the hands of the CCP. Estimates suggest that as many as 1 million Uighur Muslims have been subject to internment camps in Xinjiang, where they are taught to be secular citizens who will never oppose the ruling Communist Party. 

In January, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore warned that the crimes being perpetrated against religious minorities in China and elsewhere rely on “tribalism” and invisibility “where the rest of the world doesn't pay attention.”

“The way of Jesus Christ says that we pay attention to our neighbor on the side of the road who is persecuted, who is being beaten,” he said. “So let's pray for … persecuted peoples. Let's pray not just individually, but together, and pray for them by name.”

“Let's be the people who stand up for whoever is being made invisible, whoever is being intimidated and bullied in our own neighborhoods and in our own communities because we're the people of Jesus Christ.”

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