Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Hebrews 13:3
After spending more than a year in prison, Chinese authorities release a photo of persecuted Chinese pastor Wang Yi in handcuffs, while church leaders around the world call for Christians to continue praying for him and the church in China still facing persecution.
On December 9th, 2018, Chinese authorities arrested more than 100 members and church leaders of Early Rain Covenant Church (秋雨圣约教会) including prominent Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong.
One year later, after a secret trial on December 26th, 2019, Pastor Wang Yi was sentenced to 9 years in prison for “inciting to subvert state power” and “illegal business operations” where he remains in custody. Wang Yi denies all charges. Wang’s sentencing was condemned by Amnesty International China as making a “mockery of China’s supposed religious freedoms.”
China’s officially atheist ruling party has been seeking to rein in religious expression, including removing crosses from unofficial and official churches. More widely, the party has incarcerated more than a million members of Islamic ethnic minorities (Uighurs) in what are called “re-education centers.”
Christianity Today reported earlier this year that both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback had rebuked China’s “war on faith,” while the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) bashed the country’s growing religious freedom violations.
On Easter Sunday Chinese police conducted raids on the homes of several Early Rain Church members and leaders for worshiping online. At least eight people were detained, according to Radio Free Asia.
Shandong province’s two state-run Christian organizations, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council [the TSPM and CCC, respectively] released a statement on February 23, 2020. In it, they claimed “supervision departments” ordered all online preaching be ceased and churches that gather in secret be rooted out.
With the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, internet-based services have increased significantly among both registered churches and the non-registered churches after being shut down by authorities.
Please share this need and pray for the people of China and their church planters, pastors, missionaries and churches seeking to serve and love them well during this crisis.