TYLER, Texas (KETK) — A group of more than 60 members of a Chinese Christian church will be starting a new life in Tyler after fleeing from China due to “extreme persecution,” according to Freedom Seekers International.

The organization said that the Chinese citizens were previously in South Korea for more than a year, but will no longer be sheltered there due to political pressure from China to return them to “re-education camps.”

“I really was impressed that we resettled them here to Tyler. We have lots of churches, lots of people, people that care,” said Deana Brown, Founder and CEO of Freedom Seekers International.

Brown said the refugees just want to praise God and practice Christianity freely.

According to ChinaAid, the group was granted humanitarian parole status by United States authorities.

“In close coordination with the U.S. Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, various UN agencies, and the Thai government, the group will arrive in Texas today. Freedom Seekers International will aid in the resettlement of the exiled church,” ChinaAid said.

The Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church, also known as the Mayflower Church, is made up of 28 adults and 32 children, according to ChinaAid. The group reportedly left the People’s Republic of China in November 2019 and went to South Korea after receiving threats from interrogations from PRC police, ChinaAid said. The organization said the group traveled to Thailand to seek refuge.

“They were the…holy reform church that had escaped out of China and they were charged with treason because they left. I’m not against China, I’m against communism and how they devalue individuals,” said Brown.

The group was detained in Thailand by immigration on March 30, ChinaAid said. The families were reportedly separated at two facilities.

“The quick intervention by the United States government surely saved the lives of all the men, women, and children. U.S. officials successfully negotiated the release of the Mayflower Church into U.S. custody, boarding planes to arrive in America,” ChinaAid said.

Congressman Nathaniel Moran released the following statement, after confirming that the Mayflower Church congregation 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.

Rep. Nathaniel Moran

For more about Mayflower Church and how to support them visit Freedom Seekers online.