A minister from the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China was held in police custody on the weekend of May 8-9, and four church members were questioned with two being beaten while attempting to bring him food.
The actions against Early Rain Church were the latest since an April 21 police raid on a tutoring program operated by the church, where 19 adults and children were taken into custody and later released. The events continue a two and a half year–long crackdown by authorities on the church, whose pastor, Wang Yi, was arrested along with more than 100 church members on December 9, 2018.
“The detention of Minister Wu Wuqing and the physical attacks on Brother Dai Zhichao and Sister Shu Qiong at the Longquanyi District Damian Police Station show the continuing spiritual strength of Early Rain Church, in the face of unrelenting Communist persecution,” says Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley. “Brother Dai Zhichao was angrily punched and kicked by a plainclothes officer, but he described the whole experience as ‘a great spiritual exercise’. The church members sang hymns at the police station and shared the gospel with the officers there, at great personal cost. Brother Dai Zhichao said, ‘We could only continue to preach the gospel if we were willing to submit to the authorities beating us. Perhaps our Christian singing offended them, or the spreading of the video which included them frightened them.’ Sister Shu Qiong was slapped in the face by officers who broke her glasses and left a multitude of scratches on her neck and arms. These church members had brought Minister Wu Wuqing’s wife to the police station simply so she could bring her husband dinner. But they ended up being used by God to bring spiritual food instead.”
Chengdu, China, location of Early Rain Covenant Church
Representative Foley says that the church members were able to encourage detained Minister Wu Wuqing at the police station even though they were not permitted to visit him. “Brother Dai Zhichao reports that as he was being moved from one room to another in the police station he caught sight of Minister Wu Wuqing in another room, with two police officers guarding him. Brother Dai Zhichao called out to him, ‘Wuqing, Jesus loves you,’ and Minister Wu called back, ‘God loves you.’”
According to Representative Foley, Minister Wu had been called to the police station on Friday, May 7 after participating in the funeral for a church member. During the preceding week the air had been let out of the tires of his car three times by unknown assailants, damaging the wheels. “He was released on Friday but summoned again to the police station Saturday afternoon, apparently on charges related to disturbing the peace,” says Representative Foley. “The church members and their children arrived Saturday evening, expecting that Minister Wu would be detained until after the time of Sunday worship services, as in previous encounters with the police. The church members were met in front of the police station by a group of political security and stabilization officers. The church members recorded video on their cell phones for their own legal protection. They were eventually permitted to enter the station, where their phones were confiscated, they were searched without a warrant, and officers tried to force the four adult members to make a police statement, which they refused to do.”
Representative Foley says that the members reported that their children gradually fell asleep in their arms despite the tense atmosphere. “One child even recited Proverbs 11:1 – 3 aloud to the police: ‘The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.’” The church members were transported by police back to their home districts around 2AM Sunday morning. They reported that Minister Wu was back at home Sunday afternoon.
Brother Dai Zhichao with his family
Representative Foley says that Brother Dai Zhichao gave one praise request and one prayer request. “He said, ‘Thank the Lord that the One with us commands more than the ones with the CCP.’ And he requested, ‘Pray for the Lord to have mercy on those persecuting us.’”
Representative Foley notes that the recent increase in authorities’ activity against Early Rain Church is paralleled by crackdowns on other churches across China. “During the month of May alone, two ministers at Zion Church in Beijing were detained for ten days. Guiyang Renai Reformed Church’s Elder Zhang Chunlei has been detained. Bible apps have been removed from app stores in China,” says Representative Foley. “Yet we can join Brother Dai Zhichao in giving thanks that the One with us commands more than the ones with the CCP. And we can pray for the Lord to have mercy on those persecuting our brothers and sisters in China.’”
Individuals interested in additional Early Rain Covenant Church updates can visit https://vomkorea.com/en/project/china/early-rain-covenant-church/.
Individuals interested in donating to Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s work in partnership with the house church Christians of China can visit www.vomkorea.com/en/donation or give via electronic transfer to:
KB Bank: 463501-01-243303
Account Holder: (사)순교자의소리
Please note “China” on the transfer
File photo of a worship service at Early Rain Covenant Church before the December 9, 2018 arrest of Pastor Wang Yi.