Wang Yi, the imprisoned pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church in China, is now facing an additional charge of “illegal business activity.” According to Radio Free Asia, Wang has been detained by police in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan since December 14, 2018. At that time, he was arrested with his wife, Jiang Rong, and about 100 members of Early Rain.
The Chinese government initially charge Wang with “incitement to subvert state power,” a catchall charge often used against dissidents and political activists who speak out against the government. There has been little evidence to support the subversion charge, so the government is attempting to prosecute him on charges of running an illegal business. If found guilty, Wang could spend up to 10 years in prison.
Earlier this year, Jiang Rong was released after six months. But, along with Wang, four other members of the church remain in detention. The Christian Post reports that some church members who were detained and later released described how they had been beaten by the police in order to turn them against Wang. They claimed police tied them to a chair and deprived them of water and food for 24 hours.
Ahead of his arrest, Wang wrote a letter speaking of “disgust” at the Communist Party. “I believe that this Communist regime’s persecution against the church is a greatly wicked, unlawful action. As a pastor of a Christian church, I must denounce this wickedness openly and severely,” he wrote. “The calling that I have received requires me to use non-violent methods to disobey those human laws that disobey the Bible and God. My Savior Christ also requires me to joyfully bear all costs for disobeying wicked laws.”
During the December crackdown, authorities raided the Early Rain Covenant Church’s offices, a kindergarten, a seminary, a Bible college, and searched the homes of many of its members. They forced church members to sign a pledge to not attend the church anymore.
It is estimated that 50 to 60 percent of Early Rain members are currently under surveillance with their phones and social media accounts being monitored. We have previously reported the Chinese Communist Party and their increased efforts to destroy all religious institutions, yet the Church continues to expand under persecution.
Relevant Bible Passages
The level of persecution Chinese Christians are suffering at the hands of the Chinese government reminds us that the Bible clearly teaches that persecution will increase as the end times draw closer (Matthew 10:22). The Bible is replete with admonitions that we should expect to suffer for our faith (Matthew 24:42-44; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Peter 3:3-4). Therefore, let us pray for Christians in China to persevere through their suffering and for believers all around the world to model the perseverance of Chinese Christians as the inevitable persecution arrives.