CHINA: Pastor Lian Changnian’s health “severely damaged” in detention

Lian Changnian (v 2)On 28 April 2024 a defence lawyer visited Pastor Lian Changnian (70) of Xi’an Church of Abundance, who is being held on suspicion of “fraud” at Baqiao Detention Centre in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi province in central China. Chinese authorities often make false accusations of fraud against leaders of unregistered house churches based on the collection of tithes and offerings, as a way to have them imprisoned.

The lawyer noticed that Pastor Lian’s hair had turned completely white, his face was deeply wrinkled and he appeared listless and very tense. The pastor would either use his hand to support his head or would keep his head lowered. His voice was very low and he would only answer one out of ten questions, unable to express himself clearly. During the meeting he suddenly stood up several times, appearing very fearful and uneasy.

Xi’an Church of Abundance is one of the largest house church groups in China and is affiliated with the China Gospel Fellowship, which has long suffered government persecution. The China Gospel Fellowship has been listed as a banned cult organisation and many pastors, co-workers and congregants have been arrested. Pastor Lian Changnian has been imprisoned several times.

Pastor Lian XuliangOn 17 August 2022 the Shilipu Police Station in Xi’an took Pastor Lian Changnian, his son Pastor Lian Xuliang (pictured) and co-worker Fu Juan into custody for “fraud”, placing them under “residential surveillance at a designated location”. Their families only received news of them after they had been secretly detained for six months at the government-designated location. The detainees had suffered torture including starvation, beatings, being force-fed unknown drugs and being denied access to the toilet for extended periods.

On 15 February 2023 the three Christians were criminally detained on suspicion of fraud and transferred to a detention centre, after which their conditions improved and they were provided adequate food.

On 22 March 2023, with the approval of the People’s Procuratorate of Xi’an’s Baqiao district, they were formally arrested on suspicion of fraud. China Aid reported: “Afterwards, the police continued to summon Christians from the church, using torture to coerce them into betraying and framing the pastors and abandoning their faith.”

The case entered the courts at the end of January 2024, with a sentencing recommendation of five years for each.

Xi’an Church of Abundance issues prayer letter 

On 29 April 2024 Xi’an Church of Abundance issued an open prayer letter stating that Pastor Lian Changnian had suffered severe abuse during his designated residential surveillance by the public security organs in a designated hotel from 17 August 2022 to 15 February 2023 and that during that period his physical and mental health were severely damaged. The letter also states that a police officer beat Pastor Lian Xuliang in front of his father.

The prayer letter calls on the People’s Procuratorate of Baqiao and the People’s Court of Baqiao to release Pastor Lian Changnian, stating that his family is very concerned about his physical and mental state. Xi’an Church of Abundance also requests other churches and Christians to pray for the pastor, asking the Lord to keep him and strengthen him.

(China Aid)

Photo credits: China Aid