January 25, 2012
Pastor Shi Enhao, deputy chairman of the Chinese House Church Alliance, was unexpectedly released from labor camp last week after serving six months of a two-year "re-education through labor" (RTL) sentence, and is now safely at home with his family, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports. Pastor Shi, who oversees several hundred thousand house churches with thousands of members, was given the sentence in July 2011 for "holding illegal meetings and organizing illegal venues for religious meetings." Chinese citizens can be sentenced through the RTL system without a trial, and early release is rare. While many house churches in China operate with relative freedom, there continue to be many cases of arrests, disappearances, harassment and confiscation of property among members, and Chinese authorities remain largely immune to international pressure on these issues.