By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
MIDLAND, TEXAS / HENAN PROVINCE, CHINA (ANS) -- After intensive international pressure, local police released 33 arrested house church leaders and three leaders from South Korea.
One leader, pastor Dong Quanyu, was sentenced to 10 days administrative detention for "illegal gathering," as reported by China Aid Association (CAA).
Pastor Dong is the vice-President of Chinese House Church Alliance. They were raided a house church Bible study in Wancheng District, Nanyang city, Henan province on March 6, 2007. They were taken to the police station for interrogation for almost one day.
According to Michelle Vu, writing for the website www.christiantoday.com , the term Chinese House Church refers to congregations in China that refused to join the officially recognized Three-Self Church. House churches are independent and usually operate underground.
Vu says Henan has a history of Christian persecution and was named by the CAA as the province with the worst persecution record with at least 823 known arrests of pastors and believers and 11 raids from July 2005 to May 2006.
"Henan province should be put on notice having the worst religious persecution record," said the Rev. Bob Fu, president of CAA, last June. "It is morally imperative for any conscientious foreign investors in Henan to address this serious issue."
Henan along with Zhejiang provinces are noted for their strong Protestant house church movement as well as severe religious oppression by the government.