A pastor in China who performed religious activities on behalf of Xunsiding Church is now facing huge fines.
A pastor of a closed down house church has been ordered to appear before a Chinese court in the Fujian province, located in the southwest region of the country. The pastor is being accused by authorities of hosting illegal religious activities.
According to UCA News, the Jimei District People's Court in Xiamen City had issued summons to Pastor Yang Xibo of Xiamen Xunsiding Church on April 26. The notice from the Chinese court ordered the pastor and his wife, Wang Xiaofei, to attend a hearing on May 10.
China Continues to Crack Down on Christian Pastors for 'Illegal Religious Activities'
The pastor and his wife had been the target of Chinese authorities due to their attempts of reviving the Xiamen Xunsiding Church, the largest house church in the city that was closed down following orders from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2019. Since the church had closed down, its ministers and members have faced threats for attending religious gatherings in secret.
On July 29, 2021, the pastor of the closed down house church and his wife were fined 200,000 yuan or $31,200 on charges of organizing illegal religious activities, as per the Xiamen City Siming District Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs. According to International Christian Concern, a hearing took place on August 13, 2021, but the court upheld the same verdict.
According to the notice sent to Yang and Wang, "Authorities found out via legal investigation that you organized Xunsiding Church religious events at Pan-Pacific Hotel Liuhong Room without the authorization of the religion department of government and facilitated illegal religious events, which violates Religious Affairs Regulations Articles 40 and 41."
However, the pastor and his wife rejected the penalty order and appealed for the Chinese court to reconsider. The two were accused of coordinating illegal religious activities for the already closed down Xunsiding Church. They were also charged with "setting up event venues and equipment, preaching the Gospel at events, and negotiating with law enforcement personnel on behalf of congregants."
Persecution is Nothing New for Christian Pastors in China
Pastor Yang said that he is no longer surprised at how he and his wife are being treated by the Chinese government. Instead, he likened himself to St. Paul, saying that he remains determined to preach the Good News despite facing harsh persecution.
"Paul was determined to enter Jerusalem, knowing that chains awaited him," Pastor Yang explained. "The Lord Jesus was determined to enter the earth, knowing that the cross awaited him. He should obey God, not humans, by his faith."
Members who served who served Xunsiding Church for generations admitted that persecution against Pastor Yang and his family, including his aunt, Yang Xinfei, and his father, pastor Yang Yuanzhang, who are all spiritual seniors in the church, was common mostly because they refused to join the state-sanctioned Three-Self Church.