At least 20 Christians arrested for holding a public worship service continued to share their faith — even while in prison, a persecution watchdog has revealed.
China Aid reports that a number of Christians were arrested and detained in two separate police stations on Oct. 2 in China's southern Sichuan province for proselytizing on a public street and holding a worship service in a public park.
The detained Christians were part of a street evangelism team from the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, one of the area's most well-known unregistered churches. The Christians were reportedly imprisoned because rules ban evangelism outside of registered religious sites.
While in detention, the Christians took turns sharing their faith, while their fellow church members prayed that they would "be filled with the power of joy, peace, and grace," notes China Aid. Those who were not arrested either continued to preach in the streets or gathered outside of the police stations to wait for news.
"The Gospel has been proclaimed. We gave out all the leaflets. Those brothers and sisters [in Christ] who were waiting at the police station brought more and distributed them all," Early Rain Covenant Church pastor Wang Yi was quoted as writing in a message on social media. "We encountered another police station and got to know a group of people who believe in Christ. May the Lord's love be with these law enforcement officers."
Currently, the government is pressuring an estimated 20,000 underground house churches to close and join the state-sanctioned church. In turn, their leaders are being forced to pledge their loyalty to the Communist party.
"The Church in China needs to move out of the passive zone and be actively integrating their faith into every part of their walk in China, including standing up if the Chinese government decides it wants to 'edit' the Bible," Open Doors CEO David Curry told Mission Network News.
The Church cannot afford to avoid such atrocities, Curry said, adding that Christians have an obligation to "call it out."
"I think it's an issue of prayer and letting people know in the global community, that we're aware," he said. "Whenever Christians are persecuted, we need to stand up and let our voice be heard."
"Governments like to do this sort of thing," Curry said of the Chinese government's continued crackdown on believers. "What is important is that the Church remain fully followers of Jesus, not first, citizens of some country here, but first, kingdom citizens and follow the Scriptures, as they are written, and abide by that."