It's been two years since Chinese security forces raided the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Sichuan, and its members continue to face pressure from the government.
Over 100 members were arrested in the initial raid in December 2018, including Pastor Wang Yi. Yi has since been sentenced to nine years in prison.
The Voice of the Martyrs reports that the location where the congregation met has been demolished and authorities have officially banned all future gatherings. Despite these measures, members of the church have sought alternate ways to continue meeting for worship and share the message of the Gospel. In response, security forces have continued to intimidate church members.
On October 11, Xuewei Jia was taken for interrogation because he had participated in a retreat service. According to his social media account, he was forced into a van, verbally abused, and interrogated for eight hours. To avoid reacting in anger, Xuewei chose to respond with silence, despite the relentless physical and verbal abuse he encountered. He was eventually allowed to return home.
Li Yingqiang, an elder of Early Rain Covenant Church, was often responsible for releasing updates on the situation since the initial arrests in 2018. On the morning of October 25, police entered his home, as well as the home of a fellow church member, Xiao Luobiao, and his family. At the time of the raids, these Christians were participating in online worship. Both Li and Xiao were detained until that afternoon. Li was forced to delete all tweets from his Twitter account and ordered to remove the listed names of all his followers.
In an effort to intimidate Li and his family, police also forced them to leave their home in Chengdu, escorting them to the city of Leshan which is about 180 kilometres away. Before arriving to the city, Li signed a lease in hopes of avoiding expulsion. Nevertheless, the harassment of officials resumed a week later.
On November 3, police arrived at Li's new location, demanding "demographic information." The next day, they called him several times, asking for details about the lease. Despite Li's refusal to provide the names of his new landlords, police made contact with them and ordered that the lease be rescinded.
Having been forced again to leave their home, Li is requesting prayer for him and his family: "May the Lord provide us a place...(helping) us lean on His grace and guidance as we take each step...so we can bear witness to His justice and mercy."
VOTM asks to join in praying for Li and his family, asking the Lord to provide them protection and a safe new home. As they wait on God leading, may they be filled with renewed strength and encouragement moment by moment. Also remember to intercede for the other members of the Early Rain Covenant Church during this season of heightened persecution, including the imprisoned Pastor Wang. While praising God for their unwavering faith in the midst of difficulty, continue to prayerfully uphold them so that they will have the courage and resolve to remain obedient to our King. Finally, ask God, in His mercy, to touch the hearts of His opposers, in hopes that they too will walk in the love and salvation of Christ.
This story originally appeared at VOTM Canada and is republished here with permission.