Sola Fide Church Raided in Heilongjiang, 200 Believers Arrested

by Shen Xiang

Artistic AI-generated image of a gathering of Christians in the icy-cold village of Xiaotuan in January.

On January 27, 2024, the Chinese police raided a gathering place of Christian believers in Xiaotuan village of Xinglong Town, Dongan District, Mudanjiang City, Heilongjiang Province.

The believers are part of the Sola Fide or “Justification by Faith” network, whose story has been previously told in “Bitter Winter.” “Justification by faith only”, sola fide,” is a theological doctrine taught by Martin Luther and shared by most Protestants. In China it became a rallying cry for a loose network of conservative churches after the Lutheran formula was contested by the government-controlled Three-Self Church and sometimes replaced by “justification by love.”

As reported to “Bitter Winter,” a large Sola Fide worship service is organized in Xiaotuan village every month, attended by believers from surrounding Heilongjiang counties and cities such as Linkou and Hailin, and from as far as Tieling, in Liaoning Province, located almost 700 kilometers away.

Local believers reported that they saw a suspicious car parked nearby two days before the raid. The car came very early in the morning and left late at night.

Around 13:00 on January 27, about 150 officers from both special public security and local police raided the gathering place. Approximately two hundred believers were arrested. They were taken away in three large buses, which were not enough to transport all those who had been arrested. Some were taken away in cars.

It was a massive operation. A villager told “Bitter Winter”: “Even when they arrest criminals, we have never seen so many police officers!”