A Chinese pastor is being targeted by Communist officials after he signed a statement denouncing the government's efforts to restrict Christianity and vowing to "bear all losses" for the sake of the Gospel.
Persecution watchdog China Aid reports that Pastor Yan Xiaojie of Shangjiang Church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, was among hundreds of pastors who signed a public joint statement titled "A Declaration of the Christian Faith."
Shortly after signing the statement, Yan posted an "urgent prayer request" online, stating that personnel from three different government offices stopped by his home the previous day to speak with him.
He said, "I was not home, so they threatened my mom and wife, telling them that they must see me and investigate two things: one is that I signed the petition, and the other that I will travel abroad in October. I am communicating with them now. May the Lord Jesus be with me. I hope [Christian] brothers and sisters will pray hard for me."
In the statement, 344 pastors addressed the Chinese government's continued crackdown on Christian churches and vowed to bear all losses - "even the loss of our freedom and our lives," for the sake of the Gospel.
"But under no circumstances will we lead our churches to join a religious organization controlled by the government, to register with the religious administration department, or to accept any kind of affiliation," the pastors said. "We also will not accept any 'ban' or 'fine' imposed on our churches due to our faith."
China Aid notes that this is not the first time Yan has been targeted for his faith. In 2015, he was put under administrative detention on false "disturbing social order" charges by the Longwan District Public Security Bureau as crosses and churches were being demolished across his province. The following month, he was transferred to criminal detention and then placed under surveillance. In February 2016, he returned home on bail, his trial pending, and had restricted freedom of movement.
Last week US congressman Chris Smith condemned the continued persecution Christians, accusing Chinese authorities of "taking a hammer and sickle to the Cross".
"Burning Bibles, destroying churches, and jailing Muslims by the million is only part of the Chinese Communist Party's audaciously repressive assault on conscience and religion," he said, adding that the US would respond by ensuring "a tougher China policy, one with widespread, bipartisan and even global support".