Five members of a small suburban “house church” got up at 4 a.m. Sunday hoping to slip past police and worship Jesus with beseiged believers from the 1,000-member Shouwang Church in Beijing.
However, police were out in force and caught the five — took them to jail, interrogated them and attempted to get them to sign statements “repenting” of their support of the Beijing congregation.
Each weekend for 22 weeks now, teams of police officers have stood outside church leaders’ homes much of the weekend — barring the pastors and staff from leaving home. Other policemen ring a park that the church has designated as a meeting place, removing anybody who begins reading a Bible, singing hymns with others or playing DVDs of sermons.
The park was chosen by Shouwang Church leadership after police blocked the congregation from renting any indoor facilities or taking possession a property purchased by the church for $4 million.
So this Sunday, five members of a small “house church” in Fangshan, Hebei township, outside of Beijing, attempted to show their solidarity with Shouwang’s members. They woke at 4 a.m. and traveled for two hours to the park in Beijing, hoping to worship with members of the embattled congregation.