Christianity Today has received a first-hand update on the continued standoff between Beijing authorities and one of China's largest house churches.
More than 14 weeks after Shouwang Church in Beijing moved its worship services outdoors in April after being evicted by its landlord due to government pressure, worshipers continue to gather on Sundays in the Zhongguancun district of Beijing even as local authorities make more arrests.
Promise Hsu reports that while most arrests have resulted in jail stints no longer than 48 hours, two churchgoers have been forcibly sent back to their hometowns by Beijing officials.
Hsu writes: "On June 27, Wang Chuanliang, a Shouwang member, was sent back to his hometown in the eastern province of Shandong by Haidian's Dongsheng Police Station and the Shandong provincial office in Beijing. It was the second repatriation since Shouwang began the outdoor worship on April 10th. It was the same Dongsheng Police Station that sent back Hu Jian, another Shouwang parishioner, to his hometown in the central Hubei Province in May. Hu Jian returned to Beijing almost a month later and continued to attend outdoor worship and thus was detained every Sunday since then."
In addition to arrests and repatriation by local authorities, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, China's state-sanctioned Protestant denomination, has increased efforts to admonish and convert Shouwang detainees.
Hsu writes that in early June, "Some Three-Self Church people were sent to police stations asking the detained parishioners to leave Shouwang Church and join them or put an end to the outdoor worship." He adds that Shouwang officials responded to these coercive measures with a quote from Romans 14 in the church's weekly bulletin: "Who ...