One of the most prominent Chinese House Church leaders, Pastor Zhang Rongliang, was arrested on December 1, 2004.
Zhang’s wife and children were not at home when the arrest occurred; they were able to escape and are now in hiding. The apartment was searched and all Pastor Zhang’s Christian DVDs, materials and photos revealing relationships with foreigners and foreign agencies were confiscated. According to reliable sources, on the evening of December 1, Xuzhai village was surrounded by police and every house was searched. It is believed that pastor Zhang’s wife and children were the targets of the search.
Pastor Zhang has already spent twelve years in prison for his faith during five separate detentions since his secret baptism in 1969. He experienced harsh torture, including electric shocks, during his prison terms.
His arrest comes in the midst of a serious crackdown on Chinas house churches. In addition to a generally worsening situation and increased arrests, it is reported that there is now a disinformation campaign, similar to that used against the Falun Gong before the major crackdown against them. In recent weeks, the Chinese government has launched an international media propaganda campaign. It was reflected from articles both in an overseas pro-China website called DUOWEI news and the New York Times. The articles portrayed house churches as secret religious fanatics who even commit murder in the fight for new membership.
It is believed that the Chinese government purposely provided misleading and untrue information to these news outlets by linking the house church with a criminal group disguised as religion called Eastern Lightning.
In September in Kaifeng city alone there were over 100 pastors arrested. At least 11 have been sentenced to one to three years of so-called “re-education through labor.” They are Pastor Zhang Wanshun, Ping Xinsheng, Guo Zhumei ,Yang Jianshe, Zhang Weifang, Zhang Tianyun, Yu Xiangzhi, Yu Guoying, Shun Fu, Chen Yanjing and Pastor Li Qun. These pastors, from 25 to 57 years old, were all accused as “leaders of an evil cult” and already have experienced harsh treatment, including severe beatings. Among them, Pastor Ping Xinsheng has lost consciousness three times due to continuous beatings since his arrest in August.
“This is yet another example of how the Chinese government treats Christians,” said Todd Nettleton, Director of News Services for The Voice of the Martyrs. “We are very concerned for our Christian brother, Pastor Zhang, who has suffered from diabetes for five years.”
The Voice of the Martyrs – News