Chinese authorities arrested five members of the Xuncheng Reformed Church in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, for attending the "KL2020 Gospel and Culture" conference, which took place over a year ago, in Malaysia.

According to the report of International Christian Concern (ICC), the arrest happened in July.

Zhang Ligong, a member of Xuncheng Reformed Church in Fenyang city, was arrested on July 13. He was freed from the prison facility after completing his 15-day sentence. But when two other church members attempted to pick him up, they were immediately arrested, according to Xuncheng Reformed Church Preacher An Yankui.

The same thing happened to three coworkers who were seized from their residences. All five of them attended the KL2020 Gospel and Culture Christian conference, which was reportedly sponsored by Chinese Indonesian preacher Stephen Tong in Malaysia last year.

Other notable speakers who were present at the event were Pastor Tim Keller and Pastor D.A. Carson, noted CBN News.

Consequently, Pastor An posted an urgent prayer request on Facebook, urging Christians to keep a close eye on the people who were detained and to beg God to look after them.

"May God never forsake His children and continue to grant mercy to His church on the path carrying the cross," he wrote.

The family members have been spared thus far, and haven't gotten a police detention notice. There is no indication, however, how long the arrested Christians will be held.

Escalating harassments

In the last few months, ICC reports that the Xuncheng Church has been harassed on a near-daily basis, with several members detained in November and the arrest of a preacher last month.

During the month of May, one of the members, Zhao Weikai, was detained over an accusation that he was "committing religious fraud." After spending 15 days in administrative custody, he was again arrested on July 7, and held until his "allegedly possessing items that promote terrorism and extremism" charges were cleared. If found guilty, he may face up to three years in jail.

Regulations on Religious Affairs came into force in February 2018, and these new regulations put forward by the Chinese government aim to restrict actions of citizens that aren't sanctioned by the state, explained Gina Goh, Regional Manager of ICC in Southeast Asia.

"Beijing is paranoid about Chinese Christians' interaction with Christians overseas," she said. "As a result, they are penalizing Christians to deter them from 'receiving foreign influence.' It is a shame that the Chinese government constantly manipulates laws to violate the religious freedom of its citizens."

On July 13, ChinaAid founder Bob Fu raised the necessity of action to put an end to human rights violations under the CCP in China in his speech at the IRF Summit 2021.

His suggestions included taking immediate action to put a stop to the massive labor system of the CCP, and specifically recommending the passing of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

Open Doors' 2021 World Watch List ranks China as 17th on the list of countries with the highest level of persecution of Christians.