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Zhang Fan's wedding - Photo: WeChat via ChinaAid
Taken at Zhang Fan's wedding
Photo: WeChat via ChinaAid

Two separate incidents that recently took place in Chengdu, the capital of the Chinese province of Sichuan, demonstrate the effectiveness of the Chinese Communist Party authorities in dividing communities to bring about harassment of Christians and, in particular, members of the Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC). The first incident involved the wedding of a congregation member from the church.

Zhang Fan's wedding was planned to take place on August 28th. In preparation of her wedding, she reserved a venue for the celebration event. However, prior to the scheduled date, she was contacted by the owner, who simply told her that she would need to find a new location. She then signed a lease with a different wedding venue, but police officers went to the venue's owner and harassed him until he cancelled the contract. A third location encountered similar treatment, and Zhang ultimately had to arrange for the ceremony to be held in her small home. Despite the limited space in Zhang's house, which resulted in many guests not being permitted to attend in person, the celebration was described as "peaceful, moving, majestic and memorable."

The other incident involved several other members of the ERCC who rented apartments in the Jiaoda Garden community of Chengdu's Wuhou district. On the evening of September 1st, the Christians were approached by individuals claiming to be homeowners in the community, along with police and security agents, who ordered the renters to move out of their apartments within three days. The opposing individuals emphatically stated during the encounter: "On behalf of all homeowners of the community, we want to tell you that Christians are not welcomed here."

The following day, Sister Shu Qiong was returning to her home when officers stopped her at the gate of the community. They asked if she was a Christian. After responding to their question, the resident was refused entry into the community and told that Christianity was not allowed there. Another fellow congregation member, Li Ying, was charged with "obstruction of law enforcement" when he questioned the motives of the officers who stopped him. Thankfully, he was released that evening after several Christians went to the police station to provide him food.

The previous week's Persecution & Prayer Alert included a report on yet another incident of harassment against members of the ERCC, which the Communist authorities consider a cult (read more). For additional reports on cases of persecution in China, including those outlining the numerous challenges facing members of the ERCC church, go to our country report.

Pray that God will provide for the housing needs of the displaced church members. Despite the ongoing pressure they are receiving from Communist government officials, may they serve as vibrant testimonies of God's grace to the community members around them – including the officials who are carefully monitoring their lives. While we praise God for the joy of Christian marriage, as experienced by Zhang and her husband, pray that this newly wedded couple will have a renewed sense of God's presence with them. May He bless their relationships with loved ones, especially those who weren't able to attend the ceremony due to the housing limitations, by giving them future opportunities to gather together in celebration of their marriage.