China: Jailed Christian pastor awaits sentencing for holding worship service
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A Christian pastor in China’s Ningxia province is in jail awaiting sentencing after being tried for holding an “illegal” worship at his church, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports.
Preacher Geng Zejun of Panshi Church in Shizuishan, Ningxia province, was arrested on January 25 after officials from the Religions Affairs Bureau raided a worship service held at his church, ICC reports. The pastor and his church were targeted by the authorities as they refused to join the state-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement – a government-controlled ‘Christian’ denomination that follows the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ideology.
Following his arrest, Preacher Geng was charged with holding an ‘illegal Christian gathering’ which ‘severely [disrupted] the social order.’ He was imprisoned pending his trial and has been in prison since his arrest in January. ICC said.
The trial took place in the pastor’s absence on July 13 at Huinong District Court, ICC said. He was found guilty and is expected to be sentenced in around two weeks’ time. He remains in prison.
In a website report about the persecution of Christians in China, Open Doors USA explains: “Church attendance is rigorously monitored, and many churches are being closed down—whether they are independent or belong to the Three-Self Patriotic Movement…Christian leaders are generally the main target of government surveillance, and a very small number have been abducted.”
Ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, China ranks 17th on the US Open Doors World Watch List 2022 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.
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