URGENT M/O UPDATE: China, Outdoor Worship

April 20, 2011

As of April 10th, after the first outdoor worship of the Shouwang Church:

General Announcement of the April 10 Beijing Shouwang Church Outdoor Worship

To every brother and sister in the Lord:

May the Lord’s peace be with you! I believe that April 10 was a day of unusual significance and special remembrance for every brother and sister of Shouwang and for brothers and sisters all over the world who were fervently praying for the safety of Shouwang.

Despite of the cool temperature, class 4-5 winds, and the awareness of  police surrounding the outdoor area designated for worship, on the morning of April 10, other than those brothers and sisters who were detained from stepping out of their homes by local police or neighborhood watch members, those who were able to attend arrived in full confidence. Whether it’d be in groups or alone, they arrived at the previously designated worship area as early as 8:00 a.m. As expected, this area had already been sealed off by the police force; there were policemen everywhere; many police cars were parked along roadside.

         Although many brothers and sisters arrived well before 8:00 a.m., they could not gather together but had to wait patiently outside the police barricaded area. At about 8:30 a.m., the scores of brothers and sisters who were there already tried to start their worship at the southwestern corner of this plaza. Soon after, they were surrounded by a large group of police and were led onto public buses that were brought there by the police. These brothers and sisters were taken to the nearby Caihefang Elementary School, where they were assigned to different classrooms according to their home addresses. In these classrooms, their personal information was collected and registered. There were other brothers and sisters who met at a nearby vacant lot while some others met at Kentucky Fried Chicken. They were able to continue their worship in accordance with the programs which the church had previously handed out. The group which met atKentucky Fried Chicken was arrested by police toward end of their worship. They were also brought to the Caihefang Elementary School. According to a rough estimate, there were around 200 brothers and sisters who showed up on the 10th to worship; around 160 who were taken to be registered.

While being detained at the Caihefang Elementary School, these brothers and sisters started to sing hymns in worship; their spirits were liberated and peaceful. In the afternoon, these brothers and sisters were brought to police precincts nearest to their homes where the local police and neighborhood watch teams continued to interrogate them. In some precincts, police officers asked them to sign a letter of confession and ofguarantee, promising never to engage in “illegal” religious activities. Around 3:00 p.m., brothers and sisters were slowly being released. However,  until midnight, over 30 brothers and sisters were still in police custody. Pastors, elders and some co-workers from the church went to different precincts to carry on negotiation with the local police force, asking for their prompt release. As of the evening of the 11th, Pastor Li Xiaobai and his wife were still in police custody.

Even though most of us were detained at home and were not able to take our stand beside our brothers and sisters who met outdoor, our hearts were with you; when you faced trials and danger, in our prayers, we were with you in facing trials and the challenge of danger; when you sang hymns and worshipped, out of our mouths burst forth the same hymns and praises; as you experienced the joy of having overcome, in Christ we also shared with you the joy of having overcome. We believe that the worship on the 10th was an extraordinary worship. Because of theLord’s protection, many brothers and sisters were able to experience the peace which came from being in and with the Lord. For those brothers and sisters whose spirits were oppressed or hurt by the force of darkness, we ask the Lord tobring about comfort and healing. We believe the Church belongs to Christ. Christ is the head of the Church. In Church, Jehovah alone is our Lord. Therefore, the Church should not be controlled or manipulated by any external authority – all authority belongs to our Lord. The outdoor worship testifies to our conviction that when it comes to matter of faith our position would not be compromised. Furthermore, it is our belief that to remain steadfast to a conviction out of faith is a form of worship in itself. Therefore, we believe that outdoor worship is pleasing to the Lord.

The position of our church has not waivered and we shall continue to persist on worshipping outdoor until our Lord provides a way out for us. Although we have already purchased our own worship space in the Daheng New Epoch Technology building, because of bureaucratic red tape, we have not yet been given the keys. Even though we had newly signed a lease with Xihua Hotel, shortly after the church declared its intention to move into the building, opposition arose and rendered the facility unusable to us. After the church decided to meet outdoor, various government departmental officers suggested alternative worship places here and there. Three times did the church attempt to gain entry into our newly leased space but all without avail. We can no longer trust the promise of this person and that. This time, our church asks the government to declare its intention onpaper so that a specific department can step up to take charge of the situation; to cease its indecisiveness and make a responsible decision; to partner with Shouwang in establishing a new Church and State relationship. Today, we still believe that the best solution to the problem concerning our worship space would be for Shouwang to be allowed the use of its own facility. This is a perfect opportunity to begin a normalized relationship between Church and State.

Once again, we would like to declare emphatically that Shouwang’s Outdoor Worship of April 10, was purely a religious activity, it had nothing to do with any political or personal strife. Our church does not want one to tarnish our worship activities. If any party insists on involving the church in its own ambitious gain, we believe that the pit which he has dug before the Lord will become his own trap.

We do not know how much longer this conflict will continue, we can only ask God to have mercy on us for we are weak. We call upon both the Shouwang Church members and the brothers and sisters of the Lord’s Church all over the world to pray earnestly before God, asking Him to uphold His own church. Please ask God to protect His church under His mighty arms and to fight for His church in this spiritual battle; to mend all broken walls and preserve the unity of the church, lest we should fall into Satan’s evil scheme and break up. Weespecially want to cry out before the Lord: “Jacob is so small” and we ask the Lord to protect His church so that we may remain steadfast before Him; please ask the Lord to open the ways for His church so that we may soon resume indoor worship at a place which He has prepared for us.

May peace be with Shouwang and brothers and sisters everywhere! We believe that the love of Christ will unite us together as one, and that we may all be victorious with Him.

Church Administrative Committee

April 12, 2011


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