Members of the Chongqing Living Fountain Church in Sichuan Province in China published a prayer request letter on February 28 soon after several police in plainclothes raided their church in the morning.
Their service was halted, and attendees were warned against re-assembling citing the church's non-registry to CCP and the potential risk of spreading COVID as reasons. Two of their members were also arrested, and their church computer confiscated.
"The Lord has protected our church since its founding more than 20 years ago. Most of our members are elderly and women. We pray that God gives us the courage and wisdom to testify His name to the kings and rulers, as well as to soldiers of the Earth. May God's peace be with our detained Brothers [in the faith of Jesus Christ]," they wrote in their letter.
— 春雷張 (@UeWr1dIzdf27bPc) February 28, 2021
According to China Aid, people from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), domestic security bureau, and plainclothes policemen first "'showed up' at the church during the Sunday service" on February 21. They put a stop on the morning service because they are not registered with the religious affairs bureau. The authorities also faulted the church for allowing children to join them.
A week after the raid, police officers tried, through intimidation of the landlord, to get a list of the church members and their financial information. The church firmly refused to give the said information to their landlord.
The Living Fountain Church may be a small house church, but they have been meeting for worship for more than 20 years, long before the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials published their "New Regulations on Religious Affairs." The risk of defying the new regulations did not deter them from their pure allegiance to Christ. They refused to register under the CCP regulated religious affairs bureau and thus suffered consequences.
In 2018, one of the church's leaders, Cheng Hairong, has also signed the petition for religious freedom titled, "A Joint Statement by Pastors: A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith," the International Christian Concern reported
According to the U.S Custom reports on International Religious Freedom, China's 2018 Regulations on Religious Affairs require that religious activity "must not harm national security" through subscription to "religious extremism." To date, the Chinese government only recognizes Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism as the official state religions provided that they abide to the regulations. Any group under these five religions must register under the CCP directed associations: Buddhist Association of China (BAC), the Chinese Taoist Association, the Islamic Association of China (IAC), the TSPM, and the CCPA. To refuse means to face penalty.
The regulation also states that children under the age of 18 are forbidden from participating in religious activities and "receiving religious education from schools run by religious organizations."
After CCP has enacted the new regulations, several NGOs have received numerous reports of abuses including police brutality, force disappearances, and even deaths of those detained or imprisoned due to their religious affiliations.
The Custom Report states that the "Political Prisoner Database (PPDB), maintained by human rights NGO Dui Hua Foundation, contained the following number of imprisoned religious practitioners at year's end: 121 'non-cult' Protestants, 487 'cult' Protestants, including members of The Church of Almighty God, 114 Muslims, 22 Buddhists, and four Catholics, compared with 119 'non-cult' Protestants, 316 'cult' Protestants, 136 Muslims, 22 Buddhists, and nine Catholics at the end of 2018.'
Dui Hua described the prisoners as "people persecuted for holding religious beliefs that are not officially sanctioned."