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Early Rain Church Elder Li Yingqiang Wang Yi and his wife Zhang Xinyue

Editor’s note: Zhang Xinyue, the wife of persecuted Early Rain Church elder and school headmaster Li Yingqiang (Elder Timothy), in prison since December 2018, wrote him this personal letter of encouragement. 

To read Zhang Xinyue’s first letter to her husband the night after he was arrested in December 2018, Click Here.


“Dear honey,

Today I just have one thing to tell you, only a few sentences. Being imprisoned for the Lord and suffering for righteousness’ sake are good things. Go in peace and do what you need to do. Regardless of whether you are there for two years or three years or eight years or ten years, we will wait for you. We will joyfully wait for you.

Last night the children asked me, “How can we let Daddy know that we are okay and that he doesn’t need to worry about us?”

“The angels will tell him.”

I love you! Keep it up.

Your wife

April 30, 2019”


Early Rain Church elder and school headmaster Li Yingqiang (Elder Timothy) with Steve Childers in China 3 days before he was taken into custody (December 7, 2018).


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Early Rain Church Elder Li Yingqiang Wang Yi and his wife Zhang Xinyue

Editor’s note: Zhang Xinyue, the wife of Early Rain Covenant Church elder and school headmaster Li Yingqiang (Elder Timothy), wrote the following letter to her husband the night after he was arrested last December. He is still in prison and charged with “internet provocation.”


Dear husband,

Last night I slept well. When I woke up this morning, I heard that you had been taken away. At that moment, my heart had great peace because I knew you had already prepared for this moment long ago.

I haven’t been able to sleep tonight. I’m sure things are hard for you right now, too. So I’ll just accompany you in your sleeplessness. I want to tell you a few things in case you might see this.

I heard that they usually bring you back to your home when they search it. I subconsciously hoped to use that opportunity to see you for a moment, but they still haven’t come. I’m not going to wait any longer. I’m not afraid of them at all. On the contrary, I pity them. I hope you do, too.

I know you must be worried about me, because you’ve seen how much of a mess I’ve been lately. But I’m doing very well now. I’ve loved the Lord more these past two days than I ever have before. More than anything, my heart is joyful and at peace. At night, tears flow by themselves. But it’s not grief. It’s hard to say exactly what it is. I just spent a long time thinking about it, and I’m still thinking to myself, “Why are you crying?”

I finally asked myself, “Aren’t you willing to experience this tiny little bit of pain for the Lord?” My conclusion was, “I’m willing.” I’m very willing, because I know that this slight, momentary affliction is not worth comparing to that eternal glory that is to come. I’m willing to foot that bill. So why am I crying? It might just be because I’m human.

But you can completely relax. Crying is one thing. Finishing crying is another. I allow myself to cry, but I haven’t felt the least bit of despair. Even if I look for it, I can’t find any. Sometimes I want to despair for a moment and grieve a little bit, but I really don’t feel like it. So, forget about it. I think the Lord has replaced that despair with his fullness.

The little ones miss you. I told them, “Missing daddy is normal. It would be strange not to miss him. If you miss him, then miss him.” Little Di then immediately said, “After we fall asleep, we won’t miss him anymore.” And then he immediately fell asleep.

This afternoon I prayed with you according to our agreed upon time. Sorry, I was ten or so minutes late.

Lastly, I want to say that knowing what I’m going to receive as a result of what I’m going through now makes me feel so much better. I really do thank our Father in Heaven. His plans are most certainly the best. They cannot be mistaken. So, what more is there to say? I will joyfully accept them.

I love you! I’m going to bed now.
12/12/2018, 3:52 a.m.”


Original:
亲爱的大头:

昨天晚上我睡了个好觉,早晨起来得知你被找到带走了,那一刻我的心里非常平静, 因为我知道对于那一刻,你早预备好了。

今天晚上我失眠了,我感觉你现在肯定也不好过,干脆陪你一起不睡吧。和你说说话, 万一你能看到呢。

据说他们一般会带卷你回来抄家,我潜意识里想趁着这个机会看你一眼,但是到现在还 没来,不等了。对他们,我一点也不恨,倒是很同情,希望你也如此。

我知道你肯定挺为我担心的,因为最近 我在你面前的表现实在太糟糕了,但是我现在 挺好的,这两天我比以往任何时候都爱主,心里更多的是平安喜乐。夜晚的时候,眼泪会自 己流出来,但不是悲伤,具体说不上是什么原因,刚才我实实在在为这事想了很久,我在想,我哭啥子呢?最后我问自己,你难道不想为了主,经历这一点点的痛苦吗?结论是:我愿愆,很愿意,因为我知道,这至暂至轻的痛苦,和将来永久的茉耀相比,实在是不值一 提,这个账我还是会算的。那我为什么哭呢? 可能只是因为我还是个人吧。只是你完全可以 放心,哭是一回瑱,哭完是另一回事。我允许 自己哭,但是我一点也没有绝望的感觉,想找 也找不出来。有时候我想绝望一下,悲惝一 下,但是实在是没有那种感觉,还是算了。我想是主已经把那个绝望填满了吧。

娃们还是会想你,我对他们说,想爸爸 才是正常的,不想才奇怪呢,想就想呗。小弟 马上说,睡卷了就不想了。然后他们马上就睡着了。

今天下午按照约定的时间和你一起祷告了的,抱歉晚了十几分钟的样子。

最后,我想说,知道自己在经历什么,会得到什么,这种感觉好极了。我实在是感谢我们在天上的父,他的安排肯定是最好的,不会错的。所以,还有什么好说的呢,欢欢喜喜领受吧。

爱你!睡觉去了。
2018-12.12 3:5


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Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong

Editor’s note: Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong wrote this letter to Early Rain Covenant Church twelve days before they were arrested on December 9. They are still in prison in secret locations on charges of “inciting to subvert state power.” Please pray and share. English translation provided by Jason, Ryan, and the China Partnership translation team.


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

For us, this year has been a very long one. The Lord has led us to realize what it means by “as your days, so shall your strength be”. This year has also been a very fierce one. Four times Wang Yi was taken to the police station, especially the first one when he was taken together with Jiang Rong to the police station, where they were detained for twelve hours. Everything we had was taken away, including our wedding rings, and we were stripped naked for body exams 

This proved two things to us:

First, we shall leave everything behind to follow the Lord. If necessary, we shall even leave marriage out of the Holy of Holies, where we will face the living God alone and be faithful to the Lord. Second, we deserve all the shame and be treated as sinners; yet we have been saved by Jesus and delivered from the coming, eternal shame. He has endured all these and much more than we have. With such, we have been led by the Lord into deeper faith and joy this year.

What we are most grateful for is that the Lord has led us through this year together with the church. We spent most days in persecution or rumors of persecution. Besides his published works, Wang Yi has also written other documents, including his testament and will. We two spent many evenings talking about the possibility of arrest and preparing for every situation. Even in the midst of our busy ministry in the church, we found time for just the two of us go on more dates than usual. These evenings and dates have led to our deeper union and sweeter love in the Lord.

This year, Shuya (son) has grown taller than mom (Jiang Rong). One time Wang Yi left home wearing Shuya’s gym shoes by mistake. We were shocked and amazed that our children are growing up much faster than how we had imagined. During the second half of the year, he studied harder than he did in the first half of the year. He developed new interests and breakthroughs in his piano lessons, and he has given more attention to spiritual things. We are grateful for the prayers and guidance of his teachers, and for the Lord leading him to grow up with His church in a time such as these. We are earnestly praying that the signs of his salvation and regeneration will become more apparent soon.

After her baptism, Ruolin (daughter) has also been growing and serving this year. She transferred her Muji sales internship to being an assistant in a designer firm, and she has gradually entered into a profession that she likes. Praise the Lord, who consecrated her from her first breath in the world and placed her under the influence of many elders and companions in Christ, so that she would long for deeper spiritual growth.

If by the end of the year, God still has not allowed the government to take more severe action toward Wang Yi and Early Rain Covenant Church, Wang Yi will take two months of sabbatical after the congregational meeting in January 2019 and then a third month off in the second half of the year. This plan has been postponed for two years. If God is willing to put Wang Yi in prison for a prolonged sabbatical, we will also receive it as abundant grace.

On May 28, Wang Yi and several co-workers were taken to Caojiaxiang police station for detention and beating. That afternoon he made a resolution before God that before he reaches the age of fifty-three (the age at which John Calvin passed away), he would devote the next ten years to a new gospel movement. If he is imprisoned, he will entrust everything to the Lord and start his personal prison ministry. If he is free, he will be even bolder in preaching and asks God to transform him into a preacher that will “turn the world upside down”.

He also asked that if Lord willing, before he turns sixty-four (the age at which Martin Luther passed away), he would devote his next twenty years to this new gospel movement. He hopes to see the Lord Christ’s new revival within the Chinese church in the next twenty years, like the Shandong Revival from 1927 to 1937, when a group of preachers, faithful pastors and theologians would rise up.  Wang Yi asked God to work through him for the next twenty years. After the age of sixty-four, he will be ready to go to his Heavenly Home any moment.  

This year Wang Yi once again made this resolution before God, a second important prayer about his lifelong ministry, that in the coming years, whatever the situation, he will not participate in any debates within the church, and he will not respond or denounce any criticism, slander and opposition against himself. He will imitate Pastor Stephen Tong: do not seek justice for himself; use all God-given grace to defend the gospel rather than someone named “Wang Yi.”

May the Lord lead our family, that in our lifetime we will focus on the frontline between the gospel and culture, the church and the world, that we will face and die at the frontline of the gospel movement while entrusting everything behind us to the Almighty Lord.

This year we have continued to experience much weakness and sorrow, especially for Jiang Rong. In the face of many slanders, attacks and opposition against Wang Yi and the Lord’s church, she had shed more tears for the state of the church than for the distress of persecution. Spiritually she has also been through a very long year. Yet the Lord’s comfort and power have always been with her. We are also grateful that the Lord has surrounded us with many co-workers who treat each other with sincerity, pastors and mentors who comfort and deal gently with us, and all the details of God’s grace and blessings.

Due to the restriction on his travel, he cut his ministry outside the city. But this year our church founded the Covenant Mission and hosted two preaching conferences in city A and city B. Next year Wang Yi plans to cut his work in lecturing and devote more time to domestic revival preaching. As long as God allows him to be free to move around, may the Lord use up this freedom until we no longer have this freedom.

This year Wang Yi has tried several social media platforms, including a WeChat Official Account and Jianshu. Almost all of them have been shut down over ten times. So far, besides publication on the church platforms, he has almost no personal publishing platforms except one ZINE account that he used to publish hymns. Since 2004 when he started the “Wang Yi’s Microphone,” there is now only a WordPress version of the “Wang Yi’s Microphone” account that requires readers to get around the firewall to access.  

This year, three of Wang Yi’s books were published: God’s Power and State Power: A Dialogue about Chinese House ChurchMobilization of The Souls: Devotional Letters from The Shepherding Field, and The Shorter Catechism (poems), with one more (A Union of Angels: The Survivor’s Guide for City Church Planters) still in process. Wang Yi plans to spend the sabbatical next year to finish editing and revising a collection of sermons and Rise Up: Ten Lectures on Chinese House Church History, and to make preparations for writing The Triumphant Return: Ten Lectures on Political Theology.

Praise the Lord that you are walking on the earth with our family. What we long for the most is to see and commit ourselves to the gospel movement of Christ’s church in China over the next twenty years. We want to place ourselves in the middle of the lasting conflict between the gospel and the Chinese culture, and personally witness the spiritual warfare between Christ and Pharaoh. We pray that the Lord will, according to His own will, propel and send us to move forward continuously and steadily until the day of the Lord’s victory.

With love in Christ,

Pastor Wang Yi, Jiang Rong, and family

November 27, 2018

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