On the evening of December 9th, police in Chengdu, Sichuan, began a coordinated attack on members of the Early Rain Covenant Church. Throughout the night and the next day, homes were raided and church members dragged away. Thus far, around a hundred church leaders and seminary students have been arrested. Some who have since been released claim that they were abused and deprived of food and water while in custody.
At last report, more than 80 believers are being held, including over 50 students. The pastor, Wang Yi, is facing charges of "inciting subversion of state power." If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison. He has not yet been able to meet with lawyers or family members.
Pastor Wang's mother remains under 24-hour surveillance, along with her 11-year-old grandson. His assistant, Li Yingqiang, had been posting updates about the crackdown online but has now been detained for allegedly inciting trouble on the Internet. At least ten others, including Wang's wife, also face charges.
While most of China's house churches operate underground, the Early Rain congregation has been more open, posting sermons online and evangelizing in the streets. In addition to overseeing 100 seminary students and a small primary school, the church's meetings around the city attract more than 800 people each week.
According to ChinaAid, persecution of the church throughout China has increased significantly. There have been more than 10,000 cases of detention thus far in 2018; more than triple the year before. For more information on the challenges facing churches in different parts of China, go to our country report.
Lift up Pastor Wang Li, his family and their congregation to the Lord during this time of trial. Remember those in custody, as well as others from the church who are facing the uncertainty of what tomorrow may bring. Pray for the continued outreach in Chengdu and throughout China. Ask God to minister to the hearts of the governmental leaders, including President Xi Jinping, so that the country's Christians can serve their communities peacefully and without constraint.