Paul Washer, itinerant preacher and founder of HeartCry Missionary Society, gave an urgent prayer warning for a friend who was detained by Chinese authorities and may have to leave the country for good. According to Washer, his friend is a “spiritual father to many.”
Washer may be describing what is a systematic crackdown on Christian churches in China that have happened over the last few days. While China has been persecuting Christians for years, there seems to be a coordinated crackdown the last week or so, with it intensifying over the last 24 hours.
According to China Aid (HT Christian News Network), at least 15 churches have been harassed by Chinese officials this week.
At 9:30 a.m. on May 12, state security officers from the local religious management bureau invaded Jinxiangtan Church in Xiangtan, Hunan province, and stopped one of the church’s elders, a man surnamed Huang, while he was preaching. One of the bureau’s agents ordered the church to stop all evangelical events.
On the same day, Renai Reformed Church in Guiyang was also stormed by personnel from local government departments, including the religious affairs bureau, national security bureau, police officers, auxiliary police officers, and others, which have not been named.
Christians gathered there for worship said the officers requested the pastor stop preaching.
The pastor requested that they show us official papers, and the officials said they were being penalized for holding “illegal religious activities.”
Agents from the religious affairs bureau warned the church attendees not to film the incident and threatened legal consequences if they refused. Multiple Christians were detained and interrogated for several hours before being released, and the pastor’s computer was confiscated.
Additionally, two churches in Guangzhou were raided by officials on Sunday, and a local Christian, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some of the church members were taken away by the police, detained, interrogated, and then released.
The same source said churches in multiple regions of China were simultaneously invaded and asked to cease holding services. In total, 15 churches have been harassed since Sunday, indicating a nationwide crackdown on the faith.
It is unknown if Washer’s friend was caught up in this latest Chinese crackdown (and it may be unsafe to speculate). Nonetheless, we must urgently pray for our brothers in China.