Easter Update: The Mayflower Church will land in U.S. on Good Friday!
“This is thrilling news! The Mayflower Church will celebrate Easter in freedom. One week ago, these Christian families were arrested and threatened with being forcibly returned to China. Their ‘crime’ was seeking freedom to follow Jesus. Thank God for this amazing victory, for the Mayflower Church’s courage, and for the collective efforts of Christians and officials who prayed, supported, and fought for their freedom,” said Wendy Wright, president of Christian Freedom International.
“We are grateful for Christian Freedom International’s supporters whose prayers and gifts blessed the Mayflower Church during their ordeal.”
Bob Fu with China Aid notified Christian Freedom International that “Mayflower church members are expected to land [in the U.S. on] Friday evening.”
Update on March 31: The Mayflower Church members were released by Thai immigration on March 31. But they are at risk of being kidnapped by Chinese Communist agents and forcibly returned to China.
Several officials, including Rep. Michael McCaul, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, had urged the U.S. State Department to intervene.
The Christians have been pursued by Chinese agents for months seeking to demoralize and coerce them to return to China. Pray for their protection and resettlement to the U.S. where Christians are ready to welcome them.
March 30: The Mayflower Church, Christian families who fled China for religious freedom, have been detained by Thai immigration police.
All 63 members, adults and children, may be forcibly returned to China. One member was missing/escorted away by Communist Chinese agents.
They are scheduled to be transported to the Bangkok Immigration Court for a deportation hearing on March 31.
CCP (Communist Chinese Party) agents have forcibly repatriated other dissidents to China.
Pray for protection for the Mayflower Church.
Here is background from CFI’s December 2022 newsletter:
An Underground Chinese Church . . . In Exile
Pastor Pan tapped out a message on his phone. An app translated it from Chinese to English. Smiling, he lifted his phone for me to read: “We love our children.”
I met his church in their hiding place. The tight-knit, loving congregation laughed as they tested their English and shared their food with me.
Their underground church of 60 adults and kids escaped China three years ago. Yet they – and the babies born since – could be forced back at any moment.
Nicknamed the Mayflower Church, Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church faced severe persecution for following Christ. Like the Pilgrims, these Chinese believers left everything behind in their homeland in search of a place to freely live their faith.
“We left China at God’s leading,” Pastor Pan said. Why? “For religious freedom and the education of our children. We do not want our children taught atheism.”
They are serious about their children’s education. In China, the church ran a school. In the shelter, parents teach classes, emphasizing the Bible. In one family’s room, I spotted a small boy studying the Heidelberg Catechism.
Since 2018, China has escalated its crackdown on Christians. Pastors are arrested, sometimes in the middle of services. One pastor was sentenced to five years for trying to print “illegal publications” – the Bible. Bible texts are reinterpreted to fit Chinese communist propaganda.
Capturing the hearts and minds of Chinese youth is essential to the communists’ plan. Children are banned from attending church. Parents are banned from teaching religion to their children. China’s Compulsory Education Law makes homeschooling or private unregistered schools illegal.
When Christians in an impoverished region were told to replace pictures of Jesus with posters of Xi Jinping, a communist party chairman said, “They think God is their savior. After our cadres’ work, they’ll realize their mistakes and think, we should no longer rely on Jesus, but on the party for help.”
Christian leaders have responded by signing a Declaration stating that they respect authority, but their allegiance is to Jesus Christ.
After Pastor Pan signed the Declaration, officials raided his church and destroyed their school. The congregation took a vote and decided to leave.
But even outside of China, they are not safe.
Chinese agents stalked and filmed church leaders when they met with UN officials and journalists. Chinese officials call church members saying they betrayed their country and must return home. Family members in China are harassed. Other dissidents have been kidnapped and returned to China to be punished.
The pressure takes a toll on the little ones. I saw one child with patches of hair. His mother said, when it fell out, he tearfully asked, “Mommy, am I ugly?”
It hurts to think of what will happen if they are forced back to China.
As I write, at any moment the situation may change. They may be captured and returned to China. Or – God willing – they will get asylum in a free country.
One mother is pregnant with twins . . . and was worried. “The delivery will be expensive,” she said.
With your support, Christian Freedom International pre-paid the medical bills for the twins’ delivery. We are also helping with housing, food, and daily needs for the church – and working to get them to a safe country.
When I met him, that little boy’s hair was growing back. Delighted, he had asked, “Mommy, am I handsome?”
Pray for divine protection for the Mayflower Church.