Police detained two Christians in Chengdu, a city in China's Sichuan province, on Sunday for worshiping online in their own homes.
In both cases, police entered the home and, when they found people watching a worship service online, asked them to turn off the computers. An official from the Religious Affairs Bureau was with police when they visited Xiao Luobiao and his family.
"We worship at home and did not gather crowds to make trouble," Xiao reportedly told police. "Why can't we worship here? By doing this, you are subverting the community."
When Xiao's wife and another person asked if online worship is illegal, the officials responded that, "It is breaking the law."
Xiao, an educator, asked the officials to show him a government summons, and they left. A few hours later they returned with a summons.
Police also visited Li Yingqiang, an elder at Chengdu's Early Rain Covenant Church, at his home. They removed both men from their homes and kept them for several hours, releasing them in the afternoon. Police have detained both men on prior occasions for religious activities, and the Xiao family reports that both parents and their two children have been threatened, harassed, and stalked since Xiao was released from several days of government detainment on October 20.
"Although still subjected to being summoned on the grounds of 'participating in illegal activities,' thank the Lord, I have returned home safely," Xiao reported after his most recent release. "Officers treated me calmly and peacefully so I am safe and well. I brought the Bible, water and food with me to the police station.
While authorities detained me, I memorized scriptures of today's sermon: 'But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed…It is better then to suffer for righteousness than for evil.' I hope that just as these words comforted me greatly, they encourage dear brothers and sisters as well."
🔦 Early Rain Covenant Church began as small groups in 2006 and has grown since then. More than 200 members of the church have been arrested since December 2018.