How far would you go to protect your church? Thousands of Christians in Wenzhou, China assembled this week to defend a church in what is known as the ‘Jerusalem of the East,’ after Communist Party officials claimed it was “illegal” and plan to demolish it.
The Telegraph reported, China’s Communist Party has reportedly threatened to bulldoze Sanjiang church, which they claim was built illegally. Protestors launched an around-the-clock defense, forming a human shield to protect the church from demolition. They prayed and sung songs of worship as they fortified the sanctuary.
Believers with Bibles in their hands flocked to the Sanjiang church hoping to shield it from the bulldozers. Their 24-hour guard began when they noticed a demolition notice in red paint with the words: “Demolish” and “Illegal construction” on the brand new church.
Several people, including elderly and in some cases disabled people, have now occupied the church to prevent demolition teams moving in. “I’ve come here today to show my support,” protestor Jin Yufu told The Telegraph. “A church is a sacred place and we are all brothers and sisters. Christianity has made a big contribution to society in many ways. Thanks to Church we don’t smoke, gamble or drink. Christians are good people.”
Parishioners say the building took six years to build and cost 30 million Yuan ($4.8 million.) The news outlet reports, some parishioners believe the crackdown came after the provincial Party chief, Xia Baolong, visited the area and was “unimpressed” by the church, “His behavior is illegal,” protestor Wang Jianfeng said. “He has abused his power. The construction of the church is not against the law.”
The relationship between China’s atheists Communist Party has had a tense relationship with Christianity, and it appears to be growing in the country. According to Pew Research, 5% of China’s population identified as Christian as of 2011.
81-year-old He Hongying shows that the devotion willing to keep their house of worship open is a sacrifice of love and devotion.
“I slept [in the church] last night and I will do the same again tonight. We pulled two pews together so it was quite all right. We feel at peace and fearless when we are with our God.”