By Marshall Ramsey II, BosNewsLife International Correspondent
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)-- Two foreign pastors, one from the United States and the other from Russia, remained missing Thursday, October 14, after they were detained along with their translator in China's Henan province during a police raid on a Chinese house church, a well-informed advocacy group said.
China Aid Association (CAA) told BosNewsLife that Ma Hanzhong, a member of the house church in the Wancheng District of Nanyang City, was also arrested and beaten in the late September incident. CAA did not reveal the names of the two pastors, apparently amid security concerns. "The location of the two foreign pastors are unknown at this time," CAA added.
"All occupants of the church were arrested except for one elderly woman," the group explained.
Henan province officials have threatened to sentence the detained believers for "re-education" to one of China's notorious labor camps, in an effort to get them to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, according to CAA investigators.
There was no comment from officials, but the raid on the church was the latest in a series of similar reported incidents in China, a communist-ruled nation where the government only recognizes official churches.
Earlier on September 26 police raided the Youqing Church in Qu County of Da Prefecture area in Sichuan province, Christians said. Objects of value to the church were broken, books were confiscated, and members of the congregation were arrested and taken to the local police station, CAA said. "Family members of those arrested were requested to pay bail money to get the detainees out of jail."
The exact amount of the bail was not immediately released.
Three days later, on September 29, four church members tried, unsuccessful, to negotiate with Sichuan police about having their belongings back, referring to Chinese laws regarding places of worship CAA said . "Instead of having the items returned to them, the members themselves were arrested," CAA added. There situation was not immediately clear Thursday, October 14.
Most of China's estimated 130 million people prefer to worship in house churches, named this way as they are often held in homes of individual believer. China's government has denied religious rights abuses, saying Christians are free to worship in the government-backed churches.