by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A court in China has sentenced a popular evangelical pastor to 15 months imprisonment for holding “illegal” worship services at his house church, Bitter Winter reports.
Pastor Geng Zejun, who leads the Church of the Rock house church in Shizuishan in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, was first arrested in January for refusing to join the Three-Self church denomination controlled by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
According to Bitter Winter, the Chinese arresting authorities sought to pressure Pastor Geng into admitting that he had committed a criminal offense by holding worship services, and they ordered him to express repentance. When he refused, Pastor Geng was made to stand trial on July 13 at the Huinong District Court of Shizuishan.
Sentencing the pastor to a year and three months in prison, the court went even beyond the prosecutor’s request for a sentence of 11 months, Bitter Winter said.
In a website statement about the case, the Christian Persecution rights group said: “Geng Zejun is part of a larger campaign of intimidation and harassment. The Chinese Communist Party is trying to frighten Christians and bully them into renouncing their faith or at least becoming inactive in its observance by making the practice of Christianity so hazardous, costly, and difficult that eventually, everyone will abandon it.”
China ranks 17th on the US Open Doors World Watch List 2022 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.