A minute for the persecuted church: China
Edited and submitted by Al Coats
On June 4 at 3:30 pm, local authorities raided Autumn Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan, China to summon pastor Wang Yi and preacher Li Yingqiang ahead of their scheduled prayer vigil for 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
Two hours later, pastor Wang Yi, his wife Jiang Rong, four preachers and another 11 members of the church were taken away by the police.
In the process, preacher Li Yingqiang was brutally pushed against the wall, choked, and slapped multiple times by police officers. The authorities also cut the church’s electricity and placed a notice on the wall which reads “[…] this is not an authorized place for religious gathering, […] please go to an authorized and registered religious venue to participate in religious activities.”
At the time of writing, the entire group was still being held by the government.
As of the end of May, almost 100 house churches in the central Chinese province of Henan have been shut down. Along with those closures, authorities have taken action against the official Three-Self Patriot Movement churches, demanding that all crosses be removed from their buildings.
For house churches not yet closed, officials have ordered that any religious decorations be covered or removed. Churches have also been forbidden to allow the singing of hymns. Guards are posted at some locations to keep members out, and authorities are not allowing more than five people to meet together at a time without permission.
Since 2009, the Church has designated the period between May 12 and June 4 its “prayer month” to remember the natural and man-made disasters that have hit China on those two dates. May 12 was the anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck Sichuan in 2008 while June 4 was the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown.
The leadership of the church sent out an urgent message today telling people that “as long as there is one body in Christ who has not returned home, we will not cease praying. May God use prayers to overturn the hearts of people in power!”