Authorities in Deyang in China’s Sichuan Province detained the accountant for Early Rain Qingcaodi Church, one of the churches planted by the embattled Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church, on November 30. Accountant Liu Wuyi has been ordered to provide evidence against a current church elder and a retired elder there who were arrested in November on charges of fraud.
The detainment is the latest in a series of arrests and investigations as Early Rain Covenant Church enters its fourth year following the arrest of Senior Pastor Wang Yi and more than 100 members of its Chengdu congregation on December 9, 2018. Pastor Wang Yi was sentenced on December 30, 2019 to nine years in prison by the Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court for inciting subversion of state power and illegal business operations.
“Qingcaodi (name is literally translated to Green Grasslands) Church is located in Deyang, about 80 kilometers northeast of Chengdu,” says Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley. “The church was planted by Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church, and then it became a separate member of the Western China Reformed Presbytery.”
According to Representative Foley, retired Qingcaodi Church elder Hao Ming signed his name to the “China Declaration”, a statement of faith written by Pastor Wang Yi and signed by more than 400 Chinese pastors and ministers which was first issued in August 2018 in response to crackdowns on unregistered churches by the Chinese government. “Three days after the initial raid on Chengdu Early Rain Church, authorities raided Qingcaodi Church, and the crackdown has continued since then,” says Representative Foley.
Representative Foley says that on November 17, several Christians related to Qingcaodi Church, including current church elder Wu Jiannan and retired church elder Hao Ming, were questioned, detained, or arrested. Wu Jiannan and Hao Ming remain in prison on charges of fraud.
According to Representative Foley, the Qingcaodi congregation is preparing for the possibility of further arrests in relation to this latest crackdown. But Representative Foley says that the church members remain resolute and are not discouraged.
Early Rain Qingcaodi Church's retired elder Hao Ming and his co-workers
File photo of a children's church meeting at Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church
“Many Christians around the world wrongly think that Early Rain Church must have given up and ceased operating by now, after three years of continuous onslaught by the authorities,” says Representative Foley. “But even as authorities continue to rage, the Lord continues to sustain Early Rain Church and Pastor Wang Yi. Early Rain Church is in many ways more joyful and alive than many churches in our own country which have faced comparatively fewer hardships.”
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