Street preacher known as ‘Gospel Warrior’ detained for evangelizing at CCP’s 20th National Congress

Chen Wensheng, who is part of the Xiaoqun Church in Hengyang in China’s Hunan province, was sentenced on August 3, 2020.
Chen Wensheng, who is part of the Xiaoqun Church in Hengyang in China’s Hunan province, was sentenced on August 3, 2020. | China Aid

Police in China kept a street preacher in detention for days until the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party ended Saturday because he was sharing the Gospel at the venue prior to the party's meeting.

Chen Wensheng, who's known as the “Gospel Warrior” and is part of the Xiaoqun Church in Hengyang, located in China’s Hunan province, was first warned against sharing the Gospel on the street before the CCP's National Congress, and when he politely refused to obey, police took him and his wife “to a mountain for a half-month vacation,” said the U.S.-based group China Aid, which monitors human rights violations inside the communist country.

Chen, who often carries a wooden cross inscribed with the words “Glory to our Savior” and “Repent and Be Saved by Faith” as he shares the Gospel with passers-by, reportedly rested and studied during the detention.

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Because of his evangelistic efforts, Chen is frequently arrested and detained at the police station, where he’s repeatedly urged officers to put their faith in Jesus.

Chen was quoted as saying that, days before the weeklong party congress, local officials had visited his home to talk to him and take pictures.

“On Oct. 8, local police officers invited him and his wife for lunch. As soon as the police entered his home, he handed out gospel leaflets and said, ‘Officers, I’m glad you come again. Jesus loves you and blesses you!’ They tried again to persuade him to join the local Three-Self church. They promised that if Chen was willing, they would let him replace the two pastors of the local church or give him the opportunity to deliver speeches to large crowds of audiences in various locations in Hunan province,” the group said.

Chen then explained why he was not willing to join the government-regulated Three-Self Church. His detention followed.

For over a decade, Chen had abused drugs before he converted to Christianity. He initially heard the Gospel at a rehab center and became a Christian and got sober.

In China, evangelism is banned outside of registered religious sites. The U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern has reported that with the crackdown against house churches in China, street evangelism has become increasingly difficult. Those who evangelize face harassment or detention, while others see their churches further restricted by authorities.

The five state-sanctioned religious groups in China are the Buddhist Association of China, the Chinese Taoist Association, the Islamic Association of China, the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.

Even the organizations affiliated with the five authorized religions can be subject to surveillance and limitations.

Religious freedom in China is getting worse by the day, China Aid said last week.

Last month, Berea Church in Fujian Province and Yangguangzhijia Reformed Church in Jilin Province’s Changchun City had been banned, the group said, adding that the Wenzhou Canaan Theological Seminary was also dismantled, and all the church facilities were destroyed and Senior Pastor Huang Jianle, Teacher Liu Shitao, Teacher Shi and Teacher Sun were taken away by the police.

ICC documented more than 100 incidents of Christian persecution in China between July 2020 and June 2021 as the country’s communist regime sought to forcefully convert independent religious groups into mechanisms of the Chinese Communist Party.

There are an estimated 100 million Christians in China. Scholars have said that, given the growth of Christianity in China, there could be more Christians in China than anywhere else in the world by 2030.

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