by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – An entire church congregation of 62 Chinese Christians who left China three years ago to escape government persecution are now in Thailand and applying for refugee status in the United States, CBN News reports.
Originally from Shenzhen, the evangelical Mayflower house church led by Pastor Pan fled China for South Korea in 2019, CBN reports. Explaining the decision for the entire congregation to leave home, Pastor Pan told CBN News: “Government authorities came and threatened my landlord. They ordered him not to extend our lease and forced us to leave. They posted police right outside our residence, and I was being followed. Police stopped us in the middle of worship and ordered us to stop meeting.” Church elder Guangbo You added: ” Police persecution was becoming more serious, and we felt the space where we could live was becoming smaller.”
The Christians hoped to resettle in South Korea, but their application for political asylum there was denied. Facing deportation back to China if they did not leave South Korea once their tourist visas expired, the congregation moved on to Thailand, where they again asked for political asylum. Two and half years later, the Thai government also denied their application.
The Mayflower Church has now set its sights on the US, hoping to be understood and received as refugees there. “American Christians who have a tradition and history of religious freedom and an understanding of the principles upon which their country was founded,” Pastor Tim Conkling of China Ministries International told CBN. “They understand why the Mayflower pilgrims left and came to the United States, and they will be in support of people who would leave their country because of religious persecution to try and find a country where they can experience religious freedom.”
China is ruled by the highly authoritarian Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and ranks 17th on the US Open Doors World Watch List 2022 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.
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