by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – An entire church congregation that left China to escape religious persecution is seeking emergency asylum in the United States after being denied refugee status in South Korea, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports.
Made up of almost 60 members, the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church left China for South Korea in early 2020, hoping to make a new life there, ICC said. However, the church has now appealed to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) for help as its members are now at risk of being deported back to China.
The congregation traveled to Thailand last week on 15-day visitors’ visas and submitted their emergency US asylum applications to the UNHCR office in Bangkok, ICC said.
Prayer has been requested for the matter to be dealt with before their visas expire – as, again, they could be deported to China.
Church pastor Pan Yongguang told ICC: “This is dangerous, but it is an opportunity,” he said. “If we stayed in Jeju [South Korea], we would have had no chance.”
ICC Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, Gina Goh, said in a statement: “Please continue to pray for the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church, as they are constantly under surveillance here in Bangkok by the Chinese operatives. Given that it could take a while for the process to be completed, their safety is a grave concern.”
China ranks 17th on the US Open Doors World Watch List 2022 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.