On 9 December, Chinese authorities arrested Pastor Wang Yi, his wife and more than 100 members of the Early Rain Covenant Church in the city of Chengdu. Pastor Wang’s home was raided and ransacked by police. “It was a mess,” said an assistant deacon who was later released. “The police said our church is an illegal organization and we cannot attend any more gatherings.”
The raid may have been triggered by a 7,300-word manifesto titled “Meditations on the Religious War,” which Pastor Wang wrote and posted on social media. The Christians were reportedly detained on allegations of “inciting subversion of state power”. Pastor Wang Yi also released a letter in which he makes clear that he does not seek to overthrow the state but to worship freely. He writes: “Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family – the authorities are capable of doing all of these things. However, no one can force me to renounce my faith.” He condemns China’s Communist Party and urges Christians to perform acts of civil disobedience.
Pastor Yi criticized the government for forcing its citizens to engage in “Caesar worship” by treating President Xi Jinping like a god. He wrote that such ideology “is morally incompatible with the Christian faith and all those who uphold freedom of the mind and thought.”
There has been no word from the pastor or the church members since their arrest. Foreseeing his possible arrest, Yi had written a letter titled “My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience” back in September with the instruction that it should be published by his church should he be detained for more than 48 hours.
Another who refused to renounce her faith is 14-year-old Leah Sharibu, kidnapped from her school in Nigeria a year ago by Boko Haram jihadists. She refused to convert in exchange for her freedom and the terrorist group has said that she and a kidnapped nurse, Alice, will remain slaves for the rest of their lives. Two midwives kidnapped with Alice, Muslim mother of two Saifura Husseini Ahmed and Hauwa Mohammed Liman, were executed last year by the group.
Barnabas Fund and CSW, leading aid agencies for the persecuted Church, urge us all to pray for our Chinese and Nigerian brothers and sisters.
Sources; Barnabas Fund, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, CBN News.