(Chengdu, Sichuan Province—Oct. 20, 2020) On October 11, after police tried to force their way into the home of Yingqiang Li, an elder of Chengdu Qiuyu Covenant Church, Officer Xu of the Chengdu Public Security Bureau presented a “disorderly behavior” summons to Elder Yingqiang.
At the Caotang Road Police Station, after four police officers questioned Elder Yingqiang in the dispute mediation room, Officer Wang from Qingyang Branch focused on two points: 1. a post that Yingqiang Li re-posted on Twitter; requesting prayer for Pastor Yi Wang; 2. the church’s Sunday worship and other situations.
Police repeatedly asked Elder Yingqiang to explain his motive for reposting the message. They also asked what he meant by “may those persecutors repent soon.” Other questions included: “Who are the persecutors?” “Why did you want to forward the message?” and “Do you agree with the original post?”
Officer Wang told Elder Yingquiang, “I also talked to Pastor Yi Wang. Your reaction is far worse than his…. Why can’t you answer my questions? What are you afraid of?”
Yingqiang Li replied that he had explained he reposted the tweet. He also presented a defense for not answering some questions. “If there is any legal responsibility, I am willing to accept it. The law regulates behaviors, but the questions you asked were about my opinion. That is not a legal responsibility for me, and I have no obligation to answer you.”
Officer Xu made stressed two points to Elder Yingqiang:
1. Relevant departments in Chengdu have banned Qiuyu Covenant Church and they will definitely implement that injunction. Authorities will not leave any space for the church’s existence.
2. Chengdu does not welcome you. As long as you remain in Chengdu, we will monitor and control your actions.
Police also tried to persuade Yingqiang Li to leave Chengdu, citing three reasons:
1. Starting from December 9, 2018, Chengdu has set up high-tension wires around the Qiuyu Church. Anyone touching the high-tension wire will be electrocuted….
2. Aren’t you people who are serving for God like pilots? You can fly to anywhere to serve for God. Why do you not go anywhere else, and only to this no-fly zone? And why did you not fly away after you learned this area is a no-fly zone?
3. An officer pointed to an ink pad on the table and said, “Any city in the country will not restrict you from going there. This place in Chengdu is already angry at you. Why do you still come here to be like an ant on a hot pot?”
Elder Yingqiang simply replied:
Because I am the elder of this church, and my brothers and sisters are here. I returned to Chengdu in accordance with God’s will. The church is of heaven, and no any power can limit its existence. We are only here in Chengdu to believe in God and preach the gospel. Why can’t you tolerate our existence? Since you have no pressure on you from the upper level, why can’t you “raise your gun by one centimeter?”
One officer replied, “Give up your fantasy. We will never give you any space for the church. We will constantly pressure you. We will not ‘raise the gun by one centimeter.’ We only aim and shoot.”
When the conversation ended before noon, Police Officer Xu said: “Yingqiang Li, you have to think about how you can better serve God.”
After returning home, Elder Yingqiang Li posted on FaceBook
We returned to Chengdu to shepherd the church. God put many people in this church, and brought the pastor to the ‘Prison Theological Seminary’. …To shepherd, you first need to be with the flock. Where the flock is, there is the shepherd. If the flock is in the wilderness, the shepherd will also be in the wilderness; if the flock is in the storm, and the shepherd cannot be in a shelter. If the flock faces the wolves, tigers and leopards, the shepherds are guards.
… I take care of the flocks according to God’s will, “it is not out of reluctance, but comes from willingness,” not because of greed, but out of desire; nor is it entrusted by rule, but to be an example to the flock. Unless God removes my burden, I cannot go against His will, I cannot give up my responsibility to try to improve my personal situation. As for my family and me, all the hardships I have to face, closely connect with trust in God. God controls and measures for us, these are lessons we have to experience for growth. Police escorted Elder Yingqiang Li home by 12 p.m.; however, they monitor him 24 hours a day. Their motive appears to be as Officer Xu insinuated “never give you any space for the church.”
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