Chinese authorities pressure landlord to evict house church in Guangdong province

(Reuters/Thomas Peter)Members of the congregation clean the unofficial catholic church after Sunday service in Majhuang village, Hebei Province, China, December 11, 2016. Picture taken December 11, 2016.

Chinese authorities have successfully pressured a landlord to evict a house church in China's southern Guangdong province, leaving Christians in the area without a proper place to worship.

The leaders of Guangfu Church have been constantly harassed by Chinese officials for years because it has refused to join the state-sanctioned Three-Self Church, according to China Aid.

On May 4, the church's pastor, Ma Ke, received a notice telling him to move out of the church building because the landlord had terminated the contract. The landlord stated that he was visited by the police several times when Ma called him to ask about the sudden eviction.

Ma was also unable to renew his Guangzhou residential permit online, and he later learned that the authorities have issued a wanted notice for him. The other church members were also unable to renew their permits, which is required when obtaining driver's licenses or purchasing new cars.

The pastor said he intends to sue the police if they refuse to revoke the sanction on his permit by May 10, but it is not known whether he went through with his plan.

This was not the first time that Guangfu Church was targeted by the authorities. In June 2016, government officials closed down the Taihe County branch of Guangfu Church and cut off the power and water supply to the building.

The authorities claimed that the church was shut down because the landlord did not have the proper certificates, but the officials have allegedly been pressuring the landlord to prematurely terminate the church's ten-year contract and evict the congregation without cause.

In May 2015, the leader of Guangfu church in the Baiyun District of the southern city of Guangzhou filed a complaint with the city's district court after government authorities raided the church during a Sunday service.

The officials took the church members to the local police station and neighborhood committee office for questioning and warned them not to meet again.

Church leader Ma Chao said that the officials arrested him and the church members with no proper warrant. He also noted that the police confiscated video cameras that filmed the raid and forced the church members to delete photos of the raid from their cellphones.

"Their motivation for not allowing us to hold on to any evidence is so that they can commit all manner of evil," the church leader said.

China has been ranked on the Open Doors World Watch List as the 33rd most difficult country to live in as a Christian. However, Christianity continues to thrive in the country, and it has been projected to have the largest Christian population in the world by the year 2030.

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