Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Chief International Correspondent
BEIJING, CHINA (Worthy News)-- The leader of the 250,000 member Chinese House Church Alliance was free Tuesday, April 7, after he was apparently briefly detained in Beijing by over a dozen police officers and "threatened with death", following a baptism service.
Pastor “Bike” Zhang Mingxuan said in a statement seen by Worthy News that Beijing authorities turned him over to three police officers from his hometown in Nanyang city of Henan province. He was then escorted by train, to Nanyang, where he was questioned by local police. Beijing authorities later returned the bank cards and cell phones, but kept his 150,000 Chinese Yuan ($22), he said.
Known as Pastor "Bike" for cycling across the country to evangelize, authorities have attempted to crackdown on his Alliance, which represents many of the mushrooming hous churches in China, he and other sources said.
The pastor said his latest stand-off with police began March 21 after he baptized a friend's sister in law in Yongle town of Tongzhou district in southeast Beijing, considered the eastern gateway to the Chinese capital.
"Due to the lateness of the hour [when the baptism was over] and the heavy traffic, I decided to stay at Brother Wu’s home that night," he said in a statement distributed by advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA).
"At 6 a.m. on March 21, more than a dozen policemen and local leaders arrived...They pulled up in three cars and stopped by Brother Wu’s house" where the baptism took place. "They arrested and interrogated me, and confiscated my three cell phones and bank cards."
He claimed security forces "harshly interrogated" him and held in at their office Yongle town. "The plainclothes officers did not show their Identity Cards. They searched me all over my body. They abused me and threatened to kill me."
Chinese police officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Saying his "friends" in his hometown "wanted to see him" Pastor Bike was expelled from Beijing and handed over to three police officers, who accompanied him for the train ride back to his home town, he explained. Pastor Bike said he was was forced to stay in a hotel and questioned by China's main law enforcement agency, the Public Security Bureau, about his recent travels.
He was eventually released late March 22, and police returned his cell phones and bank cards, but refused to return the 150.000 Yuan, he said. This was apparently no isolated incident. "They arrested me several times during the Olympic Games. They beat my son. After the Olympic Games, they promised to allow my family to live in Beijing, but they lied. This is arbitrary deprivation of civil rights."
The pastor was expected to continue his work in Beijing and other areas with support from family members and Christians. He said he had uged Christians to "pray that our Lord Jesus Christ would change [the] hearts [of authorities], that they would stop persecuting house churches" and to ,"Pray for the revival of China in true faith, and for the reality of harmonious policy by the Central Government."