ChinaAid: Early Rain Covenant Church--They passed through the valley of tears (Part One)

Li Yingqiang (Photo: ChinaAid)

Posted at ChinaAid

Li Yingqiang: the “Alien”

ChinaAid note: This is part one of an article written by ChinaAid correspondent Yu Ren regarding the persecution of Early Rain Covenant Church.

During December, the season of Advent, Christians throughout the world look forward to Christmas. Christians in Jiangxin Building in Chengdu welcomed this day of universal jubilation in a unique way, which they had practiced for several years.

By the afternoon of Dec. 10, 2018, however, hundreds of Christians, including pastors, elders and fellow workers, had unexpectedly lost contact with each other. Below the Jiangxin Building, the location of Early Rain Covenant Church, police cars and trucks had lined up. Police officers methodically removed all books, audio/video products, and other assets from the church. Police also transported a primary school student attending the church’s school to the police station for questioning. Police officials then deployed officers to the doors of each of the more than 500 congregation members’ homes.

At 5:00 p.m. on Dec. 10, the fleeing elder Li Yingqiang sent an open letter to his friends on Facebook, encouraging them to be ready to bear the persecution that had arrived. He said, “Thank you, Lord. The Lord has rewarded us with this Dec. 9 persecution [Editor’s note: The arrests began on the evening of Dec. 10] at the end of 2018. Using words of the apostle Peter, Li Yingqiang exhorted church members, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (1 Peter 4:12-13). On behalf of the church, Li Yingqiang again stressed the bottom line of uncompromising faith in the face of coercion and persecution. The Early Rain Covenant Church will neither register with the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), nor join the Three-Self Church [Editor’s note: This is China’s national, state-run church]. Even if outdoors, the church will worship openly, unless each person in the church loses their freedom.

Li Yingqiang told the still free elders to take up the responsibility of shepherding the entire church. “Group gathering is the bottom line of the church. If there is a little chance for the whole church to worship together, we will never return to group worship. And if our worship in group gatherings in the Christian homes is also disturbed, we are willing to pay a greater price to witness the reversal power of the Gospel in our lives. We are willing to have the police arrest and lock up 200, 300 or even 500 people. We will let the world know we are willing to be so persecuted for the sake of faith.”

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