Police in Shenzhen city in southeastern China quickly tracked down a pastor and members of a house church after seeing videos posted on WeChat of their ocean baptisms, according to a report.
Six members of Shenzhen Trinity Gospel Harvest Church and its Pastor Mao Zhibin drove two hours to a coastal city for the Easter baptisms held on April 16. According to China Aid, the baptisms were discretely planned and held without incident.
However, a person known to the church posted photos and videos of the baptisms on WeChat. Soon thereafter, an official called Mao, who was eating lunch with those who had been baptized and asked him to confirm his identity due to a COVID-19-related measure.
Minutes later, several police officers and the local deputy mayor arrived at the location where they were all having lunch. The official and police waited for the Christians to finish their lunch and then checked their identity cards and scanned their faces.
One of the officers had the baptism videos on his phone, the pastor said. Several more photos of the pastor appeared on the phone after they scanned his face.
“The technology used by the government surpasses traditional authoritarian reign and should be called super authoritarianism,” Pastor Mao was quoted as saying, as per the translation provided by the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern. “However, I also believe that God still reigns over all. We just need to trust in Him, walk humbly with God.”
Open Doors USA, which monitors persecution in over 60 countries, estimates that there are about 97 million Christians in China. A large percentage of these Christians worship in what China’s communist government considers to be “illegal” and unregistered underground house churches.