(Deyang, Sichuan Province—December
29, 2021) On Christmas Eve at about 6:30 pm, police officers took Chengdu Early
Rain Covenant Church’s elder Li Yingqiang for “disturbing social order”. Early
Rain scheduled a Christmas Eve online evangelical seminar on Zoom for 7:30 pm.
Elder Li Yingqiang was planning to preach in the seminar. The church had to ask
another preacher to replace him.
November 25, Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church held a Thanksgiving evangelical
seminar on Zoom. Shortly after the seminar began, believers heard police sirens
and then elder Li Yingqiang disappeared from the video. Elder Li’s wife Zhang
Xinyue told fellow Christians that police officers summoned elder Li on charges
of “disturbing social order”. Fortunately, it didn’t last for long. Elder Li
returned home before the seminar ended. He told everyone that they asked him
some questions in the police station, took notes, and then sent him home.
the massive crackdown against Early Rain Covenant Church in December 2018,
elder Li Yingqiang was imprisoned for 8 months. Authorities released him on
bail and forced back to move to his hometown. His bail period ended in August
2020. He and his family moved back to Chengdu in September 2020. Very soon,
Chengdu police learned of their whereabouts and immediately started to harass
his family. National security agents even assembled a temporary room in the
hallway of his apartment in order to monitor his family any time. They knocked
at his door every Sunday morning to summon him to the police station to prevent
him from attending Sunday services. They also threatened his wife and children.
Elder Li Yingqiang hosted “Gospel
During the Pandemic,” a public, evangelical seminar online while actively
serving Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials
announced on December 20, 2021 that the “Measures
on the Administration of Internet Religious Information Services” will take
effect on March 1, 2022. According to the measures, without obtaining the “Internet
Religious Information Services Permits”, it’s illegal for any individual or
organization to preach online. This will significantly shrink the already very
narrow space for preaching the Gospel.
The CCP, unsurprisingly, prohibited
any celebration of Christmas this year. Governments of Shandong Province, Anhui
Province, Guangdong Province, and many others banned any celebration, citing
COVID-19 and Christmas being a “foreign holiday.” Bob Fu, president and founder
of ChinaAid, responded to the crackdown on Christmas with Radio
Free Asia (translated from Chinese):
Government control destroys Chinese citizens’ freedom to religion
in a “lawful” way. Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of State Security
intervene with normal religious events which are held online, which
demonstrates that the CCP has escalated its crackdown on freedom of religion.
constant persecution, elder Li’s family matured immensely since the crackdown
in December 2018. When Li was taken away from his home, his 6-year-old son said
to him: ”See you tonight, tomorrow, or 1 year later!”
Li’s 10-year-old daughter wrote a poem after he was taken away:
the deep dark night
for the dawn to break
is always present
matter day or night
the deep dark night
upon the starry night
is guiding us the way
the deep dark night
among tribulation and despair
sustains us unfailingly
brings us comfort and hope
the light of dawn
|Edler Li’s 11-year-old daughter wrote a poem after his arrest
(Photo: ChinaAid source)
Li’s wife Zhang Xinyue wrote on her WeChat Moments:
“My daughter is 10 years old. When she was 8 years old, she cried
hard when her father was taken away. At the age of 10, she sat down quietly and
wrote a poem. Is this part of her growing up?
I thank you, God, for bringing real peace to my children’s hearts.
Do you have peace in your heart tonight? If not, seek it now. God brings us
peace, which cannot be taken away by anyone in the world.”
Early Rain Covenant Church’s Christmas Eve online evangelical seminar happened
as scheduled. More than 300 Christians and faith seekers attended the online
seminar. At the moment, there is still no news about elder Li’s situation.
Bing, China Aid Special Reporter