Li Juncai, pastor of Zhongxin Church in Xinxiang County was sentenced to a five-year imprisonment, a report says. He also has to pay 210,000 RMB (32,487 USD) as penalty to his firm resistance against the removal of the cross at his church.
He and three other believers were detained on Feb. 20,2019 by local officials over the charge, "disrupting public service," reports International Christian Concern. Pastor Li Juncai's companions were Wu Raoyun, Bai Yun, and Ma Yanfang.
When the cross demolition order sanctioned by China's government reached the province Henan, Pastor Li Juncai refused to cower in fear and to submit to the dictates of a communist ideology. He did what he could to see Zhongxin Church's cross stay in its place. Furthermore, Pastor Li would not let a platform for flag-raising be installed at his church. Neither did he back off when the slogan "Love God, Love People" was sought to be replaced by a more patriotic theme,"Love Your Country, Love Your Religion."
On top of Pastor Li's arrest, along with others, the church building that accommodates 500 to 800 believers, however, was still forcibly demolished.
China Aid listed down the Chinese Communist Party's charges against Pastor Li Juncai.
- "obstructing government administration"
- "destruction of accounting records"
Pastor Li's son Li Chao argued that the charges are only made up and the doing of CCP proponents. Their wanting to punish Pastor Li Juncai for his stubborn refusal to cooperate in the authorities' 'public works' was actually more of contempt because he did not bow to their authority.
Also, the desecration of legally registered Christian church buildings and the hampering of house churches are attempts by China's government to have control on religion. These forms of suppressions had been ongoing since 2018.
One legal practitioner in China said that, "What Pastor Juncai has done does not constitute a crime. The charges by the authorities against him consist of unclear facts and insufficient evidence."
"Galilee of China"
The Henan province has the largest number of Christians. About several million are Christians which takes up ¼ of the whole Christian population in the country, says the Amity Foundation.
Outside commentators dubbed the province as the "Galilee of China." Paul Hattaway, author of "Henan: The Galilee of China" explained the reason in his linear notes, according to an article from the Global China Center early in 2020:
"The coastal city of China has been called the Jerusalem of China because it has so many Christians... the believers in Henan call it the Galilee of China because so many millions of believers come from there and also because it has become an engine room for the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout every part of China, and even in recent years beyond the country's borders."
Henan is also the province where house churches first sprouted which also birthed the "underground churches movement" says the World Watch Monitor in a report from 2018.