China's persecution of the Christian Church has intensified in recent years. Bob Fu of ChinaAid reports that police were recently called to raid the Ganquan church, an independent congregation of 400-500 members from all levels of society.
"17 of the members were arrested," he details. "15 were released, and five were criminally detained and [are] facing a long criminal sentence."
Among them was church elder Ding Zhongfu, who had obtained a Green Card and was planning to come to Ohio for his daughter's upcoming wedding.
"This is another case showing the worsening situation of religious persecution of the Communist Party," Fu submits. The government is trying to issue criminal charges "by accusing these church leaders of committing fraud for the church collectively … receiving offering and tithing."
China allows the practice of Christianity, but it is only legal at churches registered with the state, which are forced to pledge allegiance to the Communist Party. Many who choose to worship in house churches say that joining a state church means worshiping the supremacy of the government and Communist Party over God, which they reject.
Beijing has especially increased the pressure on house churches since 2018, when Chinese leader Xi Jinping issued a five-year plan to "Sinicize" all the nation's officially allowed religions by infusing them with "Chinese characteristics."
To that end, police have started using fraud charges against leaders of house churches, or informal churches not registered with the government.
For Fu, the Ganquan situation offers further proof that the Communist leadership has declared war on the Christian faith. It the reason why a different group of Chinese Christians is now adapting to life in the United States.
The 60-member Mayflower Church fled China in 2019 because of almost constant persecution from the government. The congregation briefly found refuge in South Korea, which eventually expelled them. They then arrived in Thailand and barely escaped Chinese police before flying to the United States in April 2023.
"They have just recently been donated 200 acres worth about $7 million," details ChinaAid spokesman Chad Bullard. "It's already got a church on it. It has several housing facilities. It's got a commercial kitchen, and they are in the process of building their own community."
A donated commercial building in Arkansas is being sold to raise additional funds for the church members while they take steps to become fully Americanized.
"We had cars, some of them were purchased and then donated, so each family [has] a car," Bullard reports. "They have drivers' licenses, they're enrolled in schools, and they're learning the language."
The group initially settled in Tyler, Texas, but the donated land where they are now making their home is in Midland, Texas.
Bullard credits Mayflower's unwavering faith for its continued blessings.