RELEASE: Congressman Moran Statement on the Arrival of Chinese Christians Escaping Religious Persecution
Tyler, TX, April 8, 2023
TYLER, TEXAS – Congressman Nathaniel Moran (TX-01) released the following statement, after confirming that the Mayflower Church congregation, who fled China in 2019 following years of religious persecution from the Chinese Government, had safely arrived in East Texas:
“Our nation was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and it is our responsibility to ensure that the United States stands in support of those who are fleeing religious persecution.
“For seven years, the members of the Mayflower congregation faced intense persecution from the Chinese government – all because of their strong Christian faith. In 2019, the church made the difficult decision to leave their homes to seek the freedom to practice their faith without fear of retaliation from the government. First fleeing to South Korea and later Thailand, this body of believers has endured countless trials on their journey, but I am proud to report that they are now able to rest free.
“In recent weeks, the Mayflower congregation came face to face with increased uncertainty in Thailand – including concerns of deportation back to certain persecution in China; however, a coalition of churches, nonprofit groups, and government officials came together to speedily bring this group to safety in East Texas, where our own community has prayed and prepared for their arrival for years.
“This Easter weekend, this committed body of Chinese believers was successfully resettled in East Texas, where they were welcomed with open arms. I am appreciative of those who supported this group and their journey for the last several years – including Deana Brown and Freedom Seekers International, Bob Fu and ChinaAid, Flint Baptist Church, Grace Community Church, South Spring Baptist Church, Sylvania Church of Tyler, First Baptist Church Tyler, Rose Heights Church of God, and many more.
“Joining hands with these groups, I was proud to stand with Congressman Randy Weber (TX-14), Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), and others in working with the State Department and Thai Government to encourage speedy action to move this body of believers to safety.
“Every individual should be free to practice their faith safely and without fear of persecution. The immediate action taken by U.S. officials signals that as a nation, we are still committed to standing for the persecuted, and as a Member of Congress, I am committed to fighting on behalf of religious freedom for all.
“My prayers are with the members of the Mayflower Church this Easter, and I look forward to seeing our community rally behind them in the days and weeks to come. He is risen!”
Dissidents from the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church, known as the Mayflower Church, fled the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 2019 after seven years of religious persecution from the Chinese government.
This original group, which included 28 adults and 32 children, grew to consist of 16 families with 64 total members seeking asylum in Korea. After several unsuccessful attempts to secure asylum status in Korea, the group relocated to Thailand where they applied for refugee status at the UN refugee office in Bangkok.
In the early afternoon of Thursday, March 30th, 2023, all remaining members of the Mayflower Church – 63 in total, were arrested by Thai police when over 20 Immigration Officers raided the hotel where members of the church were staying. The members were transported to an Immigration Detention Center where they were incarcerated. Following processing, they were immediately bussed to Bangkok where they were placed in another Immigration Detention Center to await bail.
On April 7, 2023, the congregation from Mayflower Church was granted entry into the United States by the U.S. Department of State and was transported to East Texas, where a coalition of churches and advocacy groups volunteered to offer a safe haven for the men, women, and children of the church to freely practice their faith.