Photo: Elder Qin Defu (ChinaAid)
(Chengdu, Sichuan province—December 15, 2022) On December 9, Elder Qin Defu was released from prison after serving his four-year sentence.
Four years prior, Chengdu police raided Early Rain Covenant Church while violently apprehending over 100 congregants. They confiscated church property and shut down the building with its private school and library. Among the believers arrested was Elder Qin Defu and Pastor Wang Yi. This massive, brutal arrest is widely referred as the “129” crackdown Not long before these events, Wang Yi published a joint statement of faith; a statement signed by over 400 house church pastors and leaders. The 129 crackdown sent shockwaves across China, affecting every church associated with the joint statement.
Many house church leaders are well known due to their notoriety for speaking out, much like Pastor Wang Yi. Others are known for their previous work or the extreme conditions in which they suffer. While Qin Defu was not a preacher, he helped manage the church internally. He gave up his business to participate in full-time ministry for Early Rain in 2017, previously spending most of his childhood in a Three-Self Church. His involvement was so integral that authorities labeled him as the “backbone” of the church.
ChinaAid sources reported that Qin Defu looked well after his release. He returned home to his two children; his youngest was born just nine months before his arrest. Besides his arrest and his false charge of “illegal business operations,” not many details surround Qin and his imprisonment. However, many of his fellow church leaders and other members were glad to see his return during a recent video conference commemorating four years since the massive crackdown.
Pastor Wang Yi is still serving his nine-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” and “illegal business operations.” The last update was from October 2021, when authorities allowed a visit from his wife. His prison conditions improved overall, even after losing a lot of weight.