Adi Haririe /

Texas-based ChinaAid is warning of religious persecution in Xiamen, China, a port city on the southeast coast. Pastor Yang Xibo and his wife, Wang Xiaofei, were hit with a combined fine of 400,000 yuan- equivalent to $55,100. The couple runs Xunsiding Church, the largest house church in Xiamen. The couple had been charged an initial fine in 2021 by the government for “organizing a gathering.” “[We] found out according to the law that your behavior of organizing and holding the Xunsiding Church religious activity in the Liuhong Hall of the Pan Pacific Hotel without the approval of the National Religious Affairs Bureau and providing for the illegal religious activity violates the provisions of Articles 40 and 41 of the Regulations on Religious Affairs,” officials stated. The initial fine was 200,000 yuan, which was doubled on June 28th. This is not the church’s first run-in with the Chinese government either. In 2019, Xunsiding Church was fined 25,000 yuan and was banned by the Chinese government. The church faced a series of raids during that time and frequently changed locations to avoid harassment. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is officially atheist but permits 5 religious groups to operate within its borders under tight supervision: Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism.

Pastor Yang is a fourth-generation Christian, with his great-great-grandfather Yang Xibo guiding Christian missionaries in the mountains. Pastor Yang’s great-grandfather, Yang Huaide, studied theology in Gulangyu and was the first priest of the Xiamen Hong Kong Chapel in 1888. Two of Yang Huaide’s descendants, Yang Xinfei and Yang Yuanzhang, were later imprisoned for 15 and 5 years for refusing to join the Three-Self Church. Churches in the Three-Self Church are accused of twisting Christianity to parrot the propaganda sent out by the CCP. Pastor Yang continues his family’s spiritual tradition and sends a message through social media along with his wife. “Thank God for allowing us to have a part in His affliction, and especially thankful that on Earth we have no property for the court-enforced implementation, which is definitely a great grace of God,” they wrote. It is unclear what Pastor Yang’s next move is. 

Despite the intense persecution that unregistered churches face, they are the driving religious force in China. Pastor Wang Yi, a Chinese pastor who has been imprisoned since 2018, wrote a powerful call to Christians operating in China. “God’s kingdom is already here in China; it cannot be denied by the power of the sword because his kingdom is brought forth by the only begotten Son of God, our Savior Lord Jesus Christ, who brought forth this kingdom on the cross through his own death under the power of the sword.” 

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