Declaration by Christians in Hong Kong in Support of Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Church in Chengdu

January 1, 2020 — Leave a comment

Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China (2018)

Editor’s note: In the 2010s, Early Rain Covenant Church in China’s Sichuan province became a pioneer in house church movement. The congregation moved into a sanctuary it purchased; established a seminary, a day school, and a college; and developed the West China Presbytery with other house churches in the city of Chengdu. The church’s ministries included a campaign to oppose forced abortion and a show of support for families of political prisoners.

In December 2018, authorities closed down the church and detained Pastor Wang Yi, and other leaders, accusing him of inciting subversion. After being held in secret detention for one year, Wang received a nine-year sentence for “inciting to subvert state power” and “illegal business operations,” the longest prison term issued against a house a church pastor in a decade. Wang Yi was also fined and had his personal assets seized. (Adapted from Christianity Today article by Dr. Fenggang Yang, Director of Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Perdue University.)


Declaration by Christians in Hong Kong in support of Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu

We are a group of Christians based in Hong Kong who care about the well-being of churches in China. We are gravely concerned about the prosecution and sentencing of Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Covenant Church for 9 years by the Intermediate People’s Court in Chengdu on 30 December 2019, under the charges of “inciting subversion of state power” and “unlawful business operation”. The following is our statement in this regard:

(1) Since his arrest on 9 December 2018, Pastor Wang Yi has been denied access to his family-appointed attorney, Mr Zhang Peihong. Subsequently, the government denied the application of Mr Zhang to be the defending attorney of Pastor Wang. This act is an outright violation of the provisions specified in the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China regarding the rights to assign a defending attorney, and hence a deprivation of the defendant’s right to fair trial. The trial and announcement of verdict on 30 December was not proceeded in public as ordained by Criminal Procedure Law and such arrangement of secrecy was a violation of Chinese constitution and laws as well as international law; the fairness of the trial was seriously undermined. As such, we express tremendous concerns and regrets.

(2) As a result of the lack of due process as articulated above, the legality of the prosecution to Pastor Wang Yi in terms of the charges and sentence is questionable. Wang Yi, being the Pastor-in-Charge of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, has displayed anything but seditious and anti-socialist motives and behaviors. On the contrary, his teachings and writings are embodiment of his faith and mission, which are rights endowed by the Constitution to citizens. In no part do they lead to falsehood and defamation, or seduction, sedition and incitement. Books printed by the Early Rain Covenant Church are published for the purposes of nurturing believers and spreading the gospel, which are in no shape or form profit-seeking. The prosecution and verdict against Pastor Wang of “inciting subversion of state power” and “unlawful business operation” are clear violations of civil rights as well as the principle of open and fair trial. We are deeply concerned and hereby express our solemn protest, and demand that the Chinese government should grant a fair trial to the case.

(3) Since 2014, religious freedom in China has been on serious decline. In particular, house churches in various cities have been suppressed by the authorities in various ways and have been put on charges. The Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, the Beijing Shouwang Church and the Zion Church have been banned by the authorities in recent years. Now the authorities escalate by prosecuting and adjudicating pastors for “inciting subversion of state power”. Such actions further illustrate the Chinese government’s severe crackdown on house churches. The legitimate rights and interests of religious Chinese citizens have not only gone unprotected but are even under unprecedented threat. It cannot be over emphasized that religious freedom is a fundamental right granted to citizens by the Constitution and cannot be trampled upon. Undeniably, the Chinese government had not only failed to protect citizens’ right to religious freedom but had controlled and even suppressed such freedom with a variety of reasons. The Chinese church has suffered political repression and prosecution in its practice of faith and its defense of rights and interests. In face of this, we can no longer remain silent; we cannot help uttering a painful cry for our suffering fellow believers. Once again, we urge the People’s Republic of China to to implement constitutional government which respects the rights and interests of citizens who engage in religious practices.

(4) We are thankful for Pastor Wang Yi’s life testimony amidst hardship. Theological differences should not be obstacles to unity and communion in Christ. We pray for church ministers and Christians in China who are in difficult situations, living in fear, being persecuted both physically and spiritually. May faith, courage, and strength from the Lord be with you. We confess that we have been silent onlookers out of various reasons and considerations. At this moment, we pray in particular for our fellow believers and coworkers in the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Elder Qin Defu who has been sentenced to 4 years in prison, and the family of Pastor Wang (his wife Jiang Rong, his son Shuya and his parents). “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13: 20-21)

The undersigned, a group of Christians in Hong Kong

31 December 2019

發起人(Initiators)

團體:

Flow Church

使命公民運動

基督教中國宗教文化研究社

教牧關懷團

香港基督徒學會

香港基督教教牧聯署籌委會

個人:

Gideon Yung

王少勇

王礽福

王家輝

王震廷

任志強

余健誠

李駿康

李耀坤

車耀業

邢福增

林家賢

洪國謙

胡志偉

胡露茜

孫寶玲

袁天佑

馬保羅

梁國全

陳玉蘭

陳建榮

陳恩明

陳淑儀

陳德晶

黃國維

雷競業

蒲錦昌

趙崇明

劉進圖

蔡揚眉

盧智榮

繆熾宏

羅秉祥

譚啟見

關浩然

龔立人


香港基督徒聲援成都秋雨聖約教會王怡牧師聯署聲明

我們是一群關心中國教會的香港基督徒,就成都中級人民法院於2019年12月30日,以「煽動顛覆國家政權罪」及「非法經營罪」,判處成都秋雨聖約教會王怡牧師有期徒刑9年一案, 表達高度關注,並作以下聲明:

(一)王怡牧師自2018年12月9日被捕後,其家屬委托的辯護律師張培鴻一直無法與他接觸,後來當局更拒絕張氏擔任王牧師的辯護人。此舉嚴重違反了《中華人民共和國刑事訴訟法》關於委托辯護律師的安排,剝奪了被告獲公平審訊的權利。12月30日的的審判及宣告判決,並未按《刑事訴訟法》要求公開進行,這種「秘密審訊」的安排,違反了中國憲法、法律及國際法,嚴重損害庭審的公正性。對此,我們表達關注及強烈遺憾。

(二)當局指控王怡牧師的控罪及判刑,在缺乏公平審訊及辯護權利的情況下,其合法性備受質疑。作為成都秋雨聖約教會的主任牧師,王怡完全沒有顛覆國家政權及推翻社會主義制度的動機及行為,其教導與寫作,乃實踐其信仰使命,屬憲法賦予公民的言論自由權利,並未構成造謠、誹謗,或誘惑、鼓動及煽動行為。而秋雨聖約教會印刷書籍,旨在牧養信徒,廣傳福音,也不構成牟利行為。有關「煽動顛覆國家政權罪」及「非法經營罪」的控罪及判決,既犯侵公民基本權利,也有違公平公開審訊,我們深感憂慮,並表達嚴正抗議,促請中國政府公正審理案件。

(三)自2014年以來,中國的宗教自由出現嚴重倒退,特別是各地家庭教會以不同方式及罪名,遭當局打壓。成都秋雨聖約教會,北京守望教會及錫安教會近年先後被當局取締,現在更以「煽動顛覆國家政權罪」來向牧者進行起訴及判決,此舉進一步說明中國政府嚴厲打壓家庭教會的政策。中國信教公民的合法權益,不僅未有獲得保障,反倒處於前所未有嚴峻處境。我們重申,宗教自由乃憲法賦予公民的基本權利,不容踐踏。中國政府不僅未有保障公民宗教自由權益,反倒以不同理由作管控,甚至打壓,已是不容否認的事實。中國教會為了實踐信仰,捍衛權益,而遭受政治打壓及檢控,叫我們不能沉默,無法不為受苦的主內同道發出沉痛的吶喊,也再次呼籲中國政府落實憲政,尊重信教公民的權益。

(四)我們為王怡牧師在艱難環境作出的生命見證獻上感恩,任何神學傳統的差異,不應妨礙主內的合一及連結。為一眾身處艱難境況,活在恐懼之中,身心靈受逼迫及傷害的中國牧者及信徒禱告,求上主的信心、勇氣、力量與盼望,與你們同在。我們或因著不同原因與考慮,曾經成為沉默旁觀者,對此我們深感懺悔。在此,我們特別為成都秋雨聖約教會的眾同工信徒、被判囚4年的覃德富長老、王牧師的家人(師母蔣蓉姊妹,兒子王書亞及王牧師的父母)禱告:「但願賜平安的上帝,就是那憑永約之血,把群羊的大牧人──我們主耶穌從死人中領出來的上帝,在各樣善事上裝備你們,使你們遵行他的旨意;又藉著耶穌基督在我們裏面行他所喜悅的事。願榮耀歸給他,直到永永遠遠。阿們!」(希伯來書十三20-21)

一群香港基督徒

2019年12月31日

發起人

團體:

使命公民運動

基督教中國宗教文化研究社

教牧關懷團

香港基督徒學會

香港基督教教牧聯署籌委會

個人:

王少勇

王礽福

王家輝

王震廷

任志強

余健誠

李駿康

李耀坤

車耀業

邢福增

林家賢

洪國謙

胡志偉

胡露茜

孫寶玲

袁天佑

馬保羅

梁國全

陳玉蘭

陳建榮

陳恩明

陳淑儀

陳德晶

黃國維

雷競業

蒲錦昌

趙崇明

劉進圖

蔡揚眉

盧智榮

繆熾宏

羅秉祥

譚啟見

關浩然

龔立人


 What can you do?

1) Pray

2) Stay Informed

3) Protest this gross injustice by letting your voice be known to everyone you think could help stop it, especially your elected leaders.

Important: One of the most realistic and helpful things you can do is call (not email) your elected representatives in the House and Senate and share your concern regarding the Chinese governments human rights violations against its own people. Learn how to call your elected officials here: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

4) Remember “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Wang Yi, second from right, met President George W. Bush in 2006 at the White House with other prominent Christian activists. Credit: Eric Draper/The White House, via Reuters

Members of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China, gather and pray in 2018.


We help underserved church leaders
develop churches that transform lives and communities.