Dozens of Christians were detained and beaten by authorities in China's central Henan province as the Communist government tightens its grip on believers in the country.
According to persecution watchdog China Aid, witnesses said police officers from the Nanle County Public Security Bureau beat a local Christian on September 25, then detained and beat 20 more believers for them beliefs and arrested them all.
Zhang Mingxuan, a pastor and president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, condemned the actions of the Nanle police and called on the international community to unite in prayer for those persecuted in China.
"It is against the national constitution and laws for house church believers to be beaten by Nanle County Public Security Bureau," he said. "A lot of problems have been caused because they [the public security bureau personnel] control, attack and persecute Christianity in Henan. I hope the international community will pray for them."
Meanwhile, in Guangdong, government officials reportedly forced tens of Christians to register with the government and join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), China's state-run church. As earlier reported, once churches join the TSPM, they must accept government supervision and obtain approval from the religious departments before holding any activities.
Authorities also summoned eight church members to the police station for questioning after raiding the church building during a service and informing the Christians that they met illegally.
Additionally, the police held eight of the Christians for more than 10 hours and threatened to further harm the church if they told any news sources about the raid or being summoned. A source told China Aid that occurrences are commonplace, but many house churches do not disclose persecution cases due to government threats.
China Aid's "Chinese Government Persecution of Christians and Churches in China" report found there has been a 4.74 increase in persecution in 2016 compared to last year: "Persecution campaigns made 2016 one of the most tyrannical years since the Cultural Revolution," reads the report, in part.
And, as home church meetings continue to be disrupted and stopped in China, persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, has placed the country at 33rd on its World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution.
"Authorities see the meetings as threats when foreigners, media or large groups of people are involved, one example being in the province Guangdong," reads the report.
Despite the persecution of the Church in China, however, Christianity continues to grow, and currently, has an estimated 100 million adherents.
Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule, told The Telegraph that China, is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world by 2030.
"Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this," Yang said. "It's ironic - they didn't. They actually failed completely."