'Church Elder Homeless As China Harasses Independent Church'

Thursday, November 12, 2020

By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News

(Worthy News) -Chinese security forces harass Christians of an independent church in western China because they still worship after their building was destroyed, and the pastor jailed, friends say.

The raids targeting a church elder and others of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu in Sichuan province come nearly two years after Chinese police acted against the congregation.

In December 2018, over a hundred worshipers were detained, including Pastor Wang Yi, who has since been sentenced to nine years in prison for operating outside the Communist Party–recognized Protestant organization. Wang was also convicted of illegal business operations, fined, and had his personal assets seized while the church building was destroyed.

Despite the harassment, members continue to gather, prompting police to force church elder Li Yingqiang and his family to leave their home in Chengdu, well-informed Christians said. Li, who released updates on those detained in 2018, was confronted by police raiding his home early October 25, added advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC).

Police also raided the home of a fellow church member, Xiao Luobiao, and his family, VOMC said. "At the time of the raids, these Christians were participating in online worship. Both Li and Xiao were detained until that afternoon."

Li was reportedly forced to delete all "tweets" messages from his social networking site Twitter and remove all his followers' names. "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 kilometers (112 miles) away," VOMC said.


Li signed a lease in hopes of avoiding a new expulsion. Still, police reportedly returned a week later, demanding details about his new landlords. "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Li's refusal to provide the names of his new landlords, police made contact with them and ordered that the lease be rescinded."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 was requesting prayer for him and his family. In a prayer text, he asked: "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."

Other church members have also faced intimidation, including Xuewei Jia, who was detained October 11 because he participated in a retreat service, Christians told Worthy News. "According to his social media account, he was forced into a van, verbally abused, and interrogated for eight hours," explained VOMC, which monitored the case. "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, but the future for church members remains uncertain, VOMC suggested while urging prayers for the targeted Christians. The actions against the Early Rain Covenant Church is part of a more sweeping reported crackdown on devoted Christians and unrecognized churches by China's Communist leadership.

Chinese authorities have denied wrongdoing and suggest that Christians can worship within the confines of Communist legislation.