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Early Rain Covenant Church Further Targeted

Li Yingqiang and his wife. - Photo: WeChat via ChinaAid www.chinaaid.org
Li Yingqiang and his wife.
Photo: WeChat via ChinaAid

In December 2018, security forces raided the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Sichuan. More than a hundred members were arrested, including Pastor Wang Yi, who has since been sentenced to nine years in prison. The location where the congregation met has been demolished and authorities have officially banned all future gatherings. Despite these measures, members of the church have sought alternate ways to continue meeting for worship and share the message of the Gospel. In response, security forces have continued to intimidate church members.

Close Monitoring of Pastor's Wife and Son

Pastor Wang Yi with his family - Photo: ChinaAid www.chinaaid.org
Pastor Wang Yi with his family
Photo: ChinaAid

Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Covenant Church is presently serving a nine-year prison sentence. He was arrested, along with his wife, in December 2018. While Pastor Wang's wife, Jiang Rong, was released on bail, the authorities have barred her from interacting with family, friends, and church members. She is being constantly monitored by security agents and essentially has no freedom of movement.

Wife of Imprisoned Elder Begs for Prayer

Qin Defu, wife, two children - Photo: Facebook / Pray for Early Rain Covenant Church
Elder Qin Defu with his wife and children.
Photo: Facebook / Pray for
Early Rain Covenant Church

In December 2018, raids on the Early Rain Covenant Church resulted in the detention of more than 100 Christians. All have since been released except for Pastor Wang Yi, who is serving a nine-year sentence, and elder Qin Defu, who was sentenced to four years in prison for "illegal business operations." For previous written reports on Qin's case and the difficulties faced by other members of Early Rain Covenant Church, go to this page.

Demolition & Detention on Easter Sunday

"Donghu
Donghu Church
Photo: ChinaAid

The Donghu Church in Xining has stood firm in the face of opposition for years. Even though it was officially approved by the Chinese authorities in 2003, this church of more than 300 members has faced problems for years.

In December 2017, the fire department closed the building, citing an unspecified "hidden danger." Following this, the congregation purchased a new building but it was not approved. So the members began meeting in the Donghu Hotel instead. This was also opposed and, in December 2019, the fire department sealed the door. This did not stop the members, who climbed through a window of the church building to resume meeting together. On Christmas Day, however, the electrical power was cut off in the middle of the service and authorities told them the building would be demolished. For more details, see this report.

Pastor Wang Yi Sentenced to Nine Years

Pastor Wang Yi and his wife, Jiang Rong - Photo: ChinaAid www.chinaaid.org
Pastor Wang Yi and his wife, Jiang Rong
Photo: ChinaAid

In what is believed to be the longest sentence against a house church leader in more than a decade, Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Covenant Church was sentenced to nine years in prison for "inciting to subvert state power" and "illegal business operations." The charges for business operations relate to the printing and distribution of Christian books by the church.

Four-Year Sentence for Church Elder

A children's meeting at Early Rain Church - Photo: ChinaAid www.chinaaid.org
Attendees of Early Rain Church.
Photo: ChinaAid

On the evening of December 9th, 2018, a coordinated attack against the Early Rain Covenant Church began, ultimately leading to dozens of arrests and the closing of the church (see this report). Over a year later, Pastor Wang Yi and others remain uncertain of the future, as they now contend with the outcome of court proceedings.

Upcoming Trial for Pastor Wang

Wang Yi - Photo: ChinaAid www.chinaaid.org
Wang Yi
Photo: ChinaAid

Wang Yi, pastor of the Early Rain Covenant Church, was arrested in December 2018 as part of coordinated raids against his church. Facing charges that could lead up to 15 years in prison, he has been patiently awaiting trial. On November 6th, Pastor Wang's lawyer, Zhang Peihong, received notification from the prosecutor that he would not be allowed to represent his client in court. The prosecutor claims that Zhang has too many ties with the pastor and his church.

Pastor's Wife Released on Bail

Pastor Wang Yi and his wife, Jiang Rong - Photo: ChinaAid www.chinaaid.org
Pastor Wang Yi and his wife,
Jiang Rong in an undated photo.
Photo: ChinaAid

On the evening of December 9th, 2018, over 100 members of the Early Rain Covenant Church were arrested in coordinated raids on their homes. The pastor, Wang Yi, remains in detention, facing up to 15 years in prison. Several others, including his wife, also face charges. For more information on this incident, go to this page.

Mysterious Disappearance of Church Affiliate

Worshipers meet outside. - Photo: ChinaAid www.chinaaid.org
Early Rain Covenant Church meets outside.
Photo: ChinaAid

Since the arrest of over 100 members of the Early Rain Covenant Church in December, authorities have continued to charge, detain and harass Christians associated with the church. For more information on the original raid, click here.

One member, Pan Fei, has been arrested several times since the original attack. After the first time he was detained, interrogated and released, he moved to a new home. Yet, he continued to be harassed by the local authorities who frequently broke into his residence.

Arrests of Inquiring Loved Ones

Children of the Early Rain Covenant Church -- Photo: China Aid www.chinaaid.org
Children meet at Early Rain Covenant Church.
Photo: China Aid

Five relatives were taken into custody after gathering outside a police station to ask about their loved ones on February 15th.

On December 9th, around 100 members of the Early Rain Covenant Church, located in the city of Chengdu, had been taken into custody (see this report). At last report, several were still imprisoned. Concerned about the condition of their detained loved ones, and wanting more information, family members gathered outside the police station with their small children.

Opposition Expands and Grows

The Chinese Government's Blacklist, Our Prayer List - Photo: VOM Korea
Photo: VOM Korea

For months, an ongoing campaign against house churches has resulted in closures throughout the country. As Eric Foley from VOM Korea says, "When China shut down more and more smaller underground churches earlier this year, they watched the world's reaction carefully and found that Christians around the world would do little. This has given them boldness to shut down the largest underground churches."

Over A Hundred Arrested

Pastor Wang Yi - Photo: Early Rain Facebook video
Pastor Wang Yi
Photo: Early Rain Covenant Church (Facebook)

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.

Christians Positively Respond to Persecution

A church raid in an undated event. - Photo: ChinaAid
One of many church raids in China.
Photo: ChinaAid

Despite ongoing attacks from authorities, members of the Early Rain Covenant Church have continued to preach on the streets. In October, 20 members of the church were detained for street evangelism. Despite the danger, church members gathered together again on November 14th to hand out fliers.