Police officers in China shut down all the utilities in an apartment rented by a church elder to pressure him to move out.
Li Yingqiang, the elder from Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) in Chengdu, and his wife Li Xinyue received another form of harassment because of their faith, the International Christian Concern reported. On the night of Nov. 12, all utilities in the apartment they are renting, including electricity, water, and internet connection, were shut down.
At first, the couple thought it was just part of the disruption on the heating service as posted downstairs on the house they lived. The heating was indeed disrupted on Nov. 11.
However, the following night, they were surprised that all of their utilities were shut down. The service was no longer restored and the family resorted to using the public bathroom in the community to fetch water and use the restrooms.
Reports reveal that it was part of the authorities' move to threaten and harass the family with the father being the elder of a house church. The landlord refused to neither comment nor get involved with the incident.
The owner of the apartment recently received instructions from the authority to kick the elder's family out. On Nov. 6, Li received a message from the landlord's daughter who lived overseas that they were harassed by the police officers forcing them to take back the house keys from the elder's family and to ask them to leave.
Li had to call the Leshan police to ask them not to bother the family. He also asked them to verify that they have valid rental agreements.
The elder and his family moved into the apartment last October after his family and church members received threats and harassments as well in Chengdu. Their house church in that city continuously endured heavy persecution.
Li and his family's story is just one of the many reports of Christians being persecuted in China because of their faith. On Nov. 4, Ran Yunfei, a Christian democracy activist, was put in chains minutes before his online webinar on Christianity and Chinese culture. The webinar had to go on with a recorded video because the speaker was detained until almost midnight.
Gina Goh, International Christian Concern's regional manager for Southeast Asia, said the Chinese government is increasing its efforts to threaten house churches. China is increasing efforts and hopes that the persecution will be too much for them to bear that they will turn away from their faith.
The government only allows a house church to run if it registers as a "Three-Self Church." Yet, Goh described the kind of church as one with no religious freedom. Chinese Christians can only run churches according to Biblical principles if they run house churches, Goh said.
China sees the rapid increase in the Christian population as a threatening Western influence. The government thinks that they have the potential to undermine the Chinese Communist Party.
However, in spite of the growing hostility in China against Christians and house churches, believers like Li Yingqiang and Ran Yunfei will stay on course. They will continue to be a witness for Jesus and to persist in their faith.