House church pastors in China are getting increasingly heavy prison sentences, as a result of Xi Jinping’s instructions to compel all Protestant churches to join the government-controlled Three-Self Church, cracking down on those that refuse.
On January 12, 2024, the Ganjingzi District People’s Court, China sentenced a prominent Protestant pastor, Kan Xiaoyong, to 14 years in prison; his wife Wang Fengying was sentenced to four years; and co-worker Chu Xinyu to ten years. Other three defendants received three-year verdicts each, making it a total of 37 years sentence.
The court claims they were all found guilty of purportedly “using superstition to undermine the law.”
Initial expectations for Kan’s sentence exceeded 20 years, RFA said. However, following strong resistance from his lawyers, authorities reduced his sentence. Similarly, Wang’s anticipated sentence was between 15- to 18-years but was ultimately set at four years.
Despite these reductions, a source emphasized that none of the accused are guilty.
Kan and Wang moved to Dalian from Wuhan in 2018 and established the Home Discipleship Network, an online preaching platform. Their arrest by Dalian police, along with the four other church members, occurred in October 2021. The source was quoted as saying that Kan’s significant online following and the unofficial status of his church posed a threat to the Chinese Communist Party, leading to the crackdown.
Both Kan and Wang said Dalian police tortured them during their interrogations. This allegation was presented in court and not refuted by authorities. Xu Yonghai, an elder of a Beijing house church, commented on the increasing fragmentation of Protestant churches in China due to government pressure, reported The Christian Post.
China ranks 19 on Open Doors 2024 list of countries where christians are persecuted the most, where it is hardest to be a Christian. Christian persecution in China is at its worst in 40 years.
“Without any exaggeration, the persecution against Christians and other religious minorities has really reached the worst level we have not seen in 40 years since the Cultural Revolution; the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) literally declared a war on Christianity.” Dr. Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid said last month.
Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering (Hebrews 13:3).