Dai Zhichao, one of the leaders of the embattled Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China, has been under house surveillance since September 2022. Authorities prohibit him from leaving his home, taking out the trash, or even receiving a COVID test. Dai’s response, however, has not been protest or legal action. It has been to work with fellow church members to provide clothing, care, and gospel witness to the young guards assigned to watch him around the clock.
“Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province where Early Rain Church is located, has been having an especially cold winter this year,” says Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley. “The guards have to sit outside in the freezing cold even overnight, and they are not provided warm clothing by the authorities.”
Representative Foley says that Dai and members of Early Rain Church provide hot water, clothes, and quilts to the guards.
“This is common in Early Rain and other Chinese churches under government pressure—they actively pray for their persecutors,” says Representative Foley. “Dai himself says, ‘Thank the Lord that the One with us commands more than the ones with the CCP [China Communist Party]. Pray for the Lord to have mercy on those persecuting us.’”
According to Representative Foley, when authorities learned about the acts of kindness being shown to the guards by Dai and the church members, they began transferring the guards to other assignments.
The church Dai helps lead, Early Rain Covenant Church, has experienced a series of raids and detainments of key church leaders by authorities since the arrest of Senior Pastor Wang Yi and more than 100 church members 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.
“Dai himself has become a more frequent target of police action,” says Representative Foley. Voice of the Martyrs Korea reported in May 2021 how police officers assaulted Dai when he and another Early Rain Church leader were attempting to bring food to a church member being questioned at the police station. “Dai was angrily punched and kicked by a plainclothes officer, but he described the whole experience as ‘a great spiritual exercise’,” says Representative Foley.
Chinese Christian leader Dai Zhichao with his family
Representative Foley says Dai’s family has been under constant harassment during the past year. “Plain-clothed officers vandalized their doors with threats and jammed obstructions into their keyholes several times,” she says. Dai’s other family members are allowed to leave the house, go to school, and shop for groceries, but Dai himself is a prisoner in his own home. Dai wrote about his experience in a social media post: “I pray God to strengthen me and help me to fight the war. I believe God is in charge. Although I will face much more harassment and disturbance in my life, I pray to God to be our help.”
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Account Holder: (사)순교자의소리
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