The Meaning of Shouwang
They worshiped, including reading the Bible, singing hymns and praying, after being loaded on to buses or put into police stations. Some people who were free went to the local police stations waiting for the release of their fellow Shouwang congregants. Many others have been under house arrest for various periods of time. All the church’s leaders, including four pastors and three elders, have been under house arrest for most of the past two weeks. Some church members have been threatened, and others have lost jobs or homes or both. They are mostly young professionals working in universities or for private companies.
Easter Sunday (24 April, 2011) was the third time the Shouwang parishioners held outdoor worship at Zhongguancun. Authorities rounded up more than 30 people were rounded up and herded them into buses or police cars.
Just as before, they were sent to local police stations. They were asked to leave their names and contact information and to promise not to attend outdoor worship again. Some declined to make any pledge, and others simply told the police they would continue to worship outdoor next Sunday. Some of them have been detained two or three times. More than half were released later that same day. But the rest, all in the eastern district of Chaoyang, were expected to gain freedom after having to stay at the police stations for 24 or 48 hours.
This was not the first time that Shouwang Church made global headlines. In November 2009 when the US President Barack Obama just wrapped up his first visit to China, The Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece entitled “The China President Obama Didn't See”. It was about Shouwang’s first indoor worship after having to meet outdoor for two successive Sundays.
That was the first time the Shouwang congregation had been forced outdoors. They were evicted from an office space in northwest Beijing’s Huajie Mansion that the church had rented for three and a half years. On 1 November, 2009, about five hundred people worshiped near the gate of a suburban park in northwest Beijing during a snowstorm, which was the earliest to hit the Chinese capital in more than two decades. A week later, some seven hundred worshipers met at the same place. But the senior pastor was prevented from going there for giving a sermon.
The senior pastor is Jin Tianming. In 1993, he and his bride began a Bible study group in their small home. A year later, they rented a room of a house near the west gate of Tsinghua University in northwest Beijing. In 1991, Jin Tianming graduated from Tsinghua, one of China's leading institutions of higher learning. He became a Christian the previous year when he was invited to attend a worship meeting. At that time, he was named Jin Yongkui, born into an ethnic-Korean peasant family in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province in 1968. His new name of Tianming means “the coming of dawn”.