Chinese Christians ready to 'die for faith' to stop church demolition

(REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon)Believers stand in a line to receive a communion during a weekend mass at an underground Catholic church in Tianjin November 10, 2013.

Chinese Christians in Wenzhou City have pledged to guard their church despite harassment and attempts by police to remove a cross atop the building.

Some 400 police officers attempted to remove the church cross on the ShuiTou Salvation Church, Wenzhou City during a night vigil of Christians on guard on July 21.

Police beat Christians with iron batons while 1,000 of them as they formed a human shield to guard the church, said.

It was unclear how many church members were injured, but four were severely hurt.

"We will continue to guard our church cross to the end," a local co-worker of PingyangCounty said.

International Christian Concern's Sooyoung Kim said, "Zhejiang provincial authorities have carefully planned and carried out their systematic attack against Christianity and churches."

In response to the government's campaign against churches, three Christians, Zhan Yingsheng, Zhang Zhi, and Ye Wanjing issued public letters on July 16 saying they are ready to die for their faith.

Ye Wanjing said his heart bleeds when he sees hundreds of church crosses fall one by one in Zhejiang Province.

Salvation Church pastor Zhan Yingsheng sent a letter to China Aid, a human rights group, as he started living inside his church's bell tower to fast and pray.

In the letter he said he is imploring the Lord to give him the will of a martyr, saying that if he prays for martyrdom if it can make the demolition campaign stop.

Before locking himself up, the pastor resigned from the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the State organization for China's Protestant congregations.

Chinese Christians are not new to sacrificing for their faith. In Beijing, Catholic seminarians rejected their diplomas so they need not be forced to attend mass with bishops ordained without papal consent.

Similarly, Monsignor Thaddeus Ma Daqin has lived as a recluse for years and resigned from the patriotic movement to publicly declare his loyalty to the Holy See.

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