After banning Xunsiding church - a prominent house church in Xiamen City- in 2019, Siming District Religious Affairs Bureau has again issued on February 24 another ban notice stating that their "campus" was not authorized, reports say.
The administrative punishment notice was directed to Wang Xiaofei, wife of Minister Yang Xibo of Xiamen Xunsiding Church, the International Christian Concern reported.
The notice said that Ms. Wang violated several articles under the "Regulations on Religious Affairs." It said that she started a branch for Xiamen Xunsiding Church without the approval of the religious affairs bureau. This, according to the authorities, is legal ground for them to also ban the campus.
Pastor Yang Xibo posted on Facebook their experience. He said that the bureau went after his wife on the day that he was out preaching.
"While out preaching on February 24, religious affairs bureau staff arrived at my home and interrogated my wife. Today, she received a punishment notice [from CCP authorities], but a certificate of merit (in the eyes of God). Officials targeted my wife because I was not at home."
Pastor Xibo also noted that he received a similar notice in 2019.
"Thank the Lord-my wife and I are a good match," he said.
Under the same legal provisions, Ms. Wang can file an administrative reconsideration within 60 days.
According to ICC's reports, Xunsiding Church "has been repeatedly harassed and raided by Siming Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau and local police over the last few years."
From being the largest house church in Xiamen, Xunsiding Church resorted to small gatherings at different locations after they were forcibly shut down in May 2019. The new venues, however, were consecutively banned by the authorities.
According to China Aid, the religious affairs bureau has teamed up with the police department, the national security agency, and the community management office. Even without search warrants and proper documents, the authorities have "confiscated possessions of churches and sealed their doors."
The pressure has forced some house churches -usually with more than 100 members- to register under the bureau. Nonetheless, failure to meet any of the bureau's conditions will get them penalized.
House churches with fewer members have remained firm in their resolve to not compromise by becoming a part of the government-sanctioned Three-self churches. Their non-compliance made them the target of continuous harassment.
While that may sound bleak, Fenggang Yang, director of Center on Religion and Chinese Society noted that "when it comes to bringing in new converts, the evangelistic zeal of a small-group fellowship is often more effective than large church gatherings."
"Moreover, the current campaign may keep jiating (house) churches small in size, but these campaigns usually wane after a while. Indeed, some jiating church leaders have been making preparations for the turnaround of the policy and the bouncing back of jiating churches in the near future," Yang observed.
ICC (International Christian Concern) has been tirelessly tracking reports and will continue to monitor China's crackdowns on churches. For more information on Christian persecutions around the globe, head to their site at www.persecution.org.