Five Christians with Xuncheng Reformed Church in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province Chinese were arrested by authorities last month because they attended the "KL2020 Gospel and Culture" conference more than one year ago.
Preacher An Yankui said a church member named Zhang Ligong was detained on July 13 and remained in police custody for 15 days. On the day of his release, two more church members were arrested when they arrived to pick up Zhang, according to International Christian Concern (ICC).
ICC NEWS- China arrests five Christians for attending a Christian conference held in Malaysia last year. Read more: https://t.co/gcv2FeCGIb
— International Christian Concern (@persecutionnews) July 29, 2021
Then police arrested three more church members from their homes.
All five of the Christians, along with thousands of other participants, flew to Malaysia in January 2020 to hear from prominent speakers such as Pastor Tim Keller and Pastor D.A. Carson.
Pastor An sent out an urgent prayer request on Facebook last week.
"Please give urgent attention to the prayer of the church brothers and sisters. Ask the Lord not to forsake his children and continue to show grace to his church on the cross path."
ICC reports that police have been targeting Xuncheng Church more frequently in recent months. One of the members, Zhao Weikai, was arrested on May 17 and again on July 7 for "allegedly possessing items that promote terrorism and extremism." He could face up to three years in prison.
Gina Goh, ICC's regional manager for Southeast Asia, said, "Since the Revised Regulations on Religious Affairs took effect in February 2018, the Chinese government has added more laws seeking to curb religious activities that are not state-sanctioned. Beijing is paranoid about Chinese Christians' interaction with Christians overseas.
"As a result, they are penalizing Christians to deter them from 'receiving foreign influence.' It is a shame that the Chinese government constantly manipulates laws to violate the religious freedom of its citizens," she added.
China is ranked 17th on Open Doors 2021 World Watch List where Christians suffer the most persecution.