A born-again Christian in China who believes that the fires in Australia and the coronavirus pandemic are signs of the impending Apocalypse being recognized as a refugee, with an Australian court finding she would be persecuted for her faith if she returned to China.
The woman told the court that she was analyzing her refugee claim that people who did not join the Local Church would perish when God returned to Earth, as well as people who did not board Noah's Ark perished. She said it was her mission to evangelize and bring others to the church, to allow them to be chosen by God to be saved.
Among the broad signs that God's return was imminent were catastrophic Australian summer fires and the coronavirus pandemic, she said.
The woman, whose refugee case was heard together with her Chinese husband and whose name has been suppressed, has been in Australia since 2007. She met her husband in Australia. Both had gone to Australia to study, but had not finished their studies. The husband was raised as a Christian, but the women said she was not particularly religious before coming to Australia. Her family was a Feng Shui practitioner, which she considered virtually "fortune tellers", according to the court.
The couple's refugee claims were rejected by the government in 2017 because a delegate from the Minister of Immigration did not accept that they were members of the Local Church.
But the Court of Administrative Appeals disagreed, discovering that the pair had joined in late 2016, shortly after being baptized in the Baptist faith and then getting married.
The court described the woman as a "fervent, born-again" Christian, who "embraced with enthusiasm and believes in the" doomsday "principles of faith.
"I am pleased that if she returns to China, she will continue to practice her faith and evangelize, mainly due to her belief that world events like the coronavirus are signs of the impending apocalypse," concluded the court.
The woman said she joined the Baptist church after her son was admitted to the hospital for exams and felt alone and scared. But she told the court that the Baptist church never felt good because members had to sit and listen to the preacher. She said that discovering the Local Church in Melbourne – which has no pastor and where members shout and pray aloud – made her feel like she "went home".
The couple stated at the hearing in February that "the new atmosphere in a new church instilled new vitality [their] organs "and they felt as if they had been" rejuvenated again ", according to the court ruling issued in late April.
They said that if they returned to China, they would find a Local Church and continue to openly worship and evangelize, but they feared that this would mean that they would be targets of the Chinese government, including forced indoctrination, and that their son would be banned.
The court concluded that the Local Church, whose followers are also known as "Shouters" in China, has been designated by Chinese law as an "xie jiao" organization, or evil cult. Xie jiao members face arrest, surveillance, interrogation, invasions and lawsuits. There were also reports that members held in detention were subject to torture and forced indoctrination, the court concluded.
The court was convinced by the woman's ability to discuss in detail the importance of her faith and her belief that all "non-believers" are at risk of being condemned when the end of time comes, which she said is imminent.
The couple was a genuine member of the Local Church and there was a real risk of being persecuted in China because of their faith, the court said, so they were both refugees.