QI JUNZAO | BITTER WINTER
Guiyang Renai Reformed Church organized private meetings in a hotel room. After a police raid, three members and the elder were arrested.
Because of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s increased surveillance and crackdown on house churches, many of them quietly organize their prayer meetings in hotel rooms. However, there is always the risk that the hotel personnel or others attracted by the monetary rewards paid to those who denounce illegal religious activities report them to the police.
This is what happened on March 16 in Guiyang, a prefecture-level city with a population of 4.7 million and the capital of the south-western Guizhou province. The Guiyang Renai Reformed Church organized a prayer meeting in room 1702 of the commercial building part of the Wenzhou Hotel complex, when the police raided the room and arrested several members of the congregation, accusing three local devotees, Chen Jianguo, Li Jinzhi and Li Lin, of having organized the illegal meeting, which was also attended by out-of-town Christians.
They were taken to Yan’an Middle Road Police Station. The church’s elder, Zhang Chunlei, decided to go to the station and negotiate the release of the believers with the police. Instead, he was thrown to the ground by the officers and arrested himself.
Elder Zhang should remain in preliminary detention for 15 days, and we learned that the police are investigating who else participated in the “illegal” activities of the Guiyang Renai Reformed Church. Houses of devotees were raided, and computers and religious materials were confiscated.
The incident confirms that even meetings of quiet prayer in weekdays in a closed environment are regarded as crimes by the CCP police.