Friend, please take a moment to Pray for Communist China|
A top Chinese house church leader was released early from prison in January. Shi Enhao, vice president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, had been sentenced to two years in labor camp in July 2011 on a charge of "holding illegal religious meetings." It is not known why he was released early, but international pressure is one probable reason. Shi was originally detained on May 31 2011, before being sentenced without trial in late July.
Shi is the pastor of the Suquian house church in Jiangsu province. He showed his support to the 5,000 member Shouwang church in Beijing, which has been meeting in public space since being turned away repeatedly from facilities it had rented or purchased. Pastor Shi's detention is evidence that meeting in smaller groups - as his more than 5,000 member church does, around the city - does not guarantee freedom from government interference. After Shi's arrest, police ordered his church members to stop meeting for worship, and they confiscated musical instruments, choir robes and donations equivalent to $22,000, according to China Aid Association.
Shi was initially detained under suspicion of "using superstition to undermine national law enforcement." At the recommendation of police, Shi was sentenced to two years in labor camp without the benefit of a trial, a practice commonly used against Christians in China.
Shi is now at home with his family, but he remains under government surveillance.