MIDLAND, TEXAS / SHANXI PROVINCE, CHINA (ANS) — A pastor in the Three-Self Church in Pinglu County, Shanxi Province was prohibited from preaching and forced to leave the church by the Chinese Religious Affairs Bureau.
According to information received from a reliable souce by the China aid Association (CAA), the Pinglu Church invited a Hong Kong based American Pastor Dennis Balcombe (Chinese name Bao Dening) — who is strongly opposed by the local Religious Affairs Bureau — to visit the church,
Pastor Balcombe was born in the United States and is an active missionary in Asia. He contributed a great deal to the charismatic revival in Henan Province in the mid 1980s. He is now senior pastor of Revival Christian Church in Hong Kong, (see: www.rcchk.org/default_eng.htm).
CAA says that according to the reliable source, Zhang Lianjie, the head of Pinglu Religious Affairs Bureau and Sun Tianfang, an officer from the same department, came to Pinglu church the morning of July 6, 2006 to investigate the issue. They came to the church again that evening, to force Pastor Hu Qinghua make a phone call to cancel the invitation. Their request was refused by Pastor Hu.
On the evening of July 7, 2006, Zhang came to the church secretly, watching the service and listening to Pastor Hu preach but was discovered.
On July 8, Zhang appeared in the church again, trying to find fault with Pastor Hu’s message. He distorted Hu’s sermon and said that Pastor Hu had cursed brothers and sisters.
Zhang came to the church again July 9. This time, he tried to dismiss the Bibel Classes and forbid the children to listen to Bible stories.
On July 10, a group of officials led by Zhang Lianjie, arrived at Pinglu Church in the early morning. The elders were compelled to retract their invitation to Pastor Bao Dening to Pinglu in front of the church that afternoon. The meeting was videotaped.
CAA say that Zhang and some other officials from the local government came to Pinglu Church in the days following. In spite of the immense pressure, church activities continued. However, on July 13, Zhang came to the church, threatened the congregation and prohibited Pastor Hu from preaching.
On July 16, Zhang, accompanied by 3 officials from the National Security Bureau, arrived at Pinglu Church to force the elders to drive Pastor Hu away, but because the elders stood together in defense of the truth and Pastor Hu, the government plan failed. However Pastor Hu was put under house arrest in the church by the officials.
On July 24, Zhang Lianjie, came to the church again and announced that a meeting would be held the next morning to “discuss” Pastor Hu Qinghua’s leaving Pinlu, all the members of TSPM (Three-Self-Patriotic Movement) and CCC (Chinese Christianity Council) were to be at the meeting.
CAA says: “All the brothers and sisters in the church burst into tears and supplicated the almighty God to reverse the situation for them. Every Christian knew that Pinlu church need Pastor Hu, but they dared not oppose the government directly. The Christians in the Chinese National Church are relatively more conservative, they normally choose to keep silent and pray to God.”
Zhang Lianjie arrived at the church in the early morning of July 25, but the meeting was cancelled because the number of Christians that came was less than a quorum. Zhang did not miss this chance to slander Pastor Hu by saying he “Shouted faction” and Pastor Bao Dening is “anti-China.” When some elders asked her for evidence, he had no reply.
The CAA report says: “The meeting began at 6 PM and the elders spoke straightforwardly about the matter of Pastor Hu Qianghua. They enumerated the achievements of Pastor Hu since taking charge of the church. The great development of the church and the great progress in the spiritual lives of brothers and sisters convinced the elders to come to the conclusion that Pastor Hu Qinghua should stay in Pinglu Church. The meeting continued till 11 PM and no matter how hard the elders insisted, Zhang Lianjie declared that Pastor Hu Qinghua must leave Pinglu Church immediately, for the following reasons:
* Pastor Hu Qinghua did not have the approval from the Pinglu Religious Affairs Bureau when he came to Pinglu Church
* Pastor Hu Qinghua does not have a preaching certificate
* Pastor Hu Qinghua was not ordained in China
* The TSPM and CCC of Shanxi Province was not aware of Pastor Hu’s coming to Pinglu Church
At last, Zhang announced that Pastor Hu Qinghua must leave Pinglu Church the next day.
CAA says Pastor Hu Qinghua has left Pinglu at present, but he still tries to comfort and encourage the brothers and sisters in Linglu Church, by phone, to stand firm in the truth.
“As a result of the outcome, the brothers and sisters in Linglu Church feel as if knives are piercing their hearts,” CAA said.
“The Pinglu Religious Affairs Bureau seriously disturbed the normal religious activities of the church,” Bob Fu, president of China Aid Association said, “and has greatly hurt the Christians in Pinglu. The local government has violated the principle of religious freedom stipulated in the Chinese constitution and putting Pastor Hu Qinghua under house arrest is completely illegal.”
CAA appeals the Pinglu Religious Affairs Bureau to immediate cease interfering in the religious freedom of the people.