Editor’s note: Over 100 members of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China, were arrested beginning Sunday, December 9. Many are still in custody. Among the top church leaders taken away and still in custody are Early Rain Church Pastor Wang Yi, senior pastor of Early Rain Church, and Early Rain Church Elder Timothy Li Yingqiang.
Foreseeing this circumstance, Pastor Wang Yi wrote “In the Face of Persecution, What Will We Do (14 Step Plan)? and Elder Timothy Li wrote “How Should The Church Face Persecution” (below). Special thanks to Brent Pinkall for translating this letter and to China Partnership for helping to make it available to the public. Please pray and share with others.
To read the original Chinese document: Click Here
How The Church Should Face Persecution
Beloved brothers, sisters, and fellow workers:
Thank the Lord! Just as the year 2018 is about to end God has given us a reward in the form of this large-scale persecution that arrived on December 9. Since yesterday evening until noon today, over 100 pastors, elders, staff, brothers and sisters have been taken away. As of now we still do not know where they all are, and even if we did know it would be difficult for us to help them. But, thankfully, we know for certain that the Lord’s loving face is shining upon them. They are within the gracious, sovereign providence of the Lord. He will be with them in the midst of their chains and trials…
…. Police also went to the homes of those brothers and sisters one at a time. They would use multiple police officers and community workers to control just one person. Their small groups were also broken up one by one. How should we respond to these things in the days to come? According to the contingency plan prepared by our session of elders, there are a few things we must do.
- Those elders who are still free must take up the responsibility of pastoring the whole church, waiting for the pastor and elders to be released. If Pastor Wang Yi is not released within 48 hours, those elders who are still free must lead the church down the next stretch according to the order decided on previously.
- Regardless, Early Rain Covenant Church must not alter the statement of faith and the path of openness that it has proclaimed publicly in the past. And we will not alter our previous stance on the relationship between church and state (正教分立) or our beautiful spiritual inheritance from the Chinese house church of walking the path of the cross. We will not register with the Religious Affairs Bureau; much less will we join the Three-Self Church.
- We will not easily relinquish our church building and retreat to our small groups. Regardless of who is leading the church, they must try to return to the church building that God has given us. Neither paper seals nor arrests should hinder our determination to worship in our church sanctuary. Unless all elders, preachers, and seminary students able to lead public worship and the preaching of God’s word lose their freedom, we will not retreat to small groups. If we cannot enter the church building, we will rent another place. If there is no place indoors where we can worship, we will begin worshiping outdoors.
- Meeting in small groups is our last resort. If there is even a very small possibility of worshiping together as a whole church, we will not retreat to small groups. But if we must meet in small groups and encounter opposition while doing so, we are willing to pay an even greater price to bear witness to the great work of the gospel in our lives. We are willing to have 200, 300, or 500 people arrested and imprisoned. May the whole world know that we are joyfully willing to receive this persecution for the sake of our faith.
Beloved brothers and sisters, I am writing this letter in “hiding.” May you all be filled with joy in the gospel of Christ. May you welcome, filled with hope, the even heavier cross and more difficult lives that lie ahead of you.
“Christ is Lord. Grace is King. Bear the cross. Keep the faith.”
This is the vision Early Rain Covenant Church received from the Lord. May we all obtain it, cherish it, put it into practice, and live it out!
Loving you all,
December 10, 2018″