While a government-hired thug in China threatened to kill a Christian family, officials in a neighboring province arrested a pastor, her daughter and her 3-year-old grandson, sources said.
In Xinning, Hubei Province in the central part of the country, police and religious affairs officials upset by a house church's outreach arrested pastor Xu Shizhen, her daughter Xu Yuqing, and Xu Yuqing's 3-year-old son, Xu Shouwang, on the night of Sept. 22, according to advocacy group China Aid Association.
The pastor and her daughter had taken part in an evangelistic effort by their unregistered congregation, Zion Church, to proclaim Christ in public parks and squares, according to China Aid. In the outreach, which included song, dance and music on bamboo instruments, the women shared the gospel even as local religious affairs, public security, and national security bureau authorities frequently interrupted them, China Aid reported.
Family members who inquired of police about the detainees on Sept. 24 discovered that officers had separated the women from the small child, keeping him at the station while transferring his mother and grandmother to other sites, according to China Aid. The organization reported that no one knew whether the women were under criminal or administrative detention.
Previously, on Sept. 13, Deputy Director of Xianan District Religious Affairs Bureau Yang Haijun led a group of police officers to Change Square, where Xu Shizhen and other church members had gathered to talk with people about Christ.
"The officials detained three Christians and drove the evangelists from the square," Christian Aid reported.
The religious affairs bureau on Aug. 23 had sent Xu Shizhen a notice accusing the church of violating Regulations on Religious Affairs and ordered her to stop the missionary work, according to the advocacy group.
Xu previously pastored Hongqiao Church, a house church that became part of the official Three-Self Church in April 2012 after officials forcibly occupied its building and damaged its property. China Aid reported that when she left to start a new church, police continued to harass her and her congregation.
In Nanyang, in neighboring Henan Province, an official on Sept. 21 threatened to kill a Christian family for attempting to harvest peanuts on a field that government-hired thugs had seized last year.
When Bai Fengju, a Christian, and relatives arrived at the field that morning, the gang prevented them from gathering peanuts from last year's planting.
"Liu Zigeng, a man who headed the same gang to confiscate a portion of Bai's property in a government-backed bid to build a road leading up to a Buddhist temple, threatened to kill all of Bai's family should they gather the peanuts," China Aid reported. "According to Feng Haiqin, Bai's daughter-in-law, '[Liu] said he was supposed to collect the peanuts, not us.'"
Liu had destroyed bean sprouts owned by Bai's family and bulldozed his farmland in order to build a road connecting a Buddhist temple to an area outside the village, the group reported.
"When Bai tried to defend his land, Liu threatened to beat him to death," China Aid reported. "Even though Bai repeatedly complained to local government departments, Liu was allowed to keep occupying his land and making threats against his family members."
Zhao Yushan, the village secretary for the region, told China Aid on Sept. 23 that the conflict had been resolved. Feng, Bai's daughter-in-law, said that an official invited Liu to his home on Sept. 21 to discuss the matter, but that she didn't know the outcome.