(Sichuan province) December 9th was the fourth anniversary of Early Rain Covenant Church’s crackdown, also known as the “129” crackdown. The church held an online event called “Testimony conference on the 4th anniversary of the December 9th crackdown.” The event had two sessions, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Although authorities interrupted the conference, believers celebrated the release of Early Rain Elder Qin Defu.
Before the event started, the event host Elder Li Yingqiang played a video created by Wang Yi Resource Library. However, as the video reached its halfway point, Elder Li Yingqiang said, ”The police are already here. They are knocking at my door. I’ll be gone soon.” He prayed with everyone and said, ”I’m leaving now. Goodbye brothers and sisters.” Then he was summoned to Longquanshan road police station (Deyang city) on suspicion of “disturbing social order.” Forty minutes later, police officers summoned his wife Zhang Xinyue and their two children under the same charge.
Preacher Dai Zhichao continued to host the event after Li left, but Dai only hosted the afternoon session. He posted on his WeChat moments at 7:47 pm that police summoned him under the charge of “organizing activities in the name of a banned social organization”. National security agents placed him under residential surveillance in his own home since September 29, prohibited from leaving his home. There was a brief lapse monitoring Dai on October 26, but they came back the next day. They told Dai that he would be monitored long-term.
Photo: Dai Zhiacho was summoned to Hongloupai police station (ChinaAid source)
On the evening of December 9 at around 11 pm, Elder Qin Defu finally returned home after four years’ prison time for the sake of his belief. While pastor Wang Yi, who was sentenced to nine years, still must spend another five years in prison. Elder Li Yingqiang’s family returned home safely at 10:30 pm. Preacher Dai Zhichao went back home safely on December 10 at 1 am. Police officers continued to monitor him.
Photo: Wang Yi’s preaching played during the conference (ChinaAid source)
The conference lasted almost eight hours. More than one thousand people attended the event online. Despite several interruptions, the online session was a success. Pastor Wang Yi’s preaching played during the event. They also played songs written based on his poems. Several groups of the church created videos to welcome elder Qin Defu back home. Several Christians living in other cities and countries shared their testimonies on how pastor Wang Yi and Early Rain Covenant church ‘s testimony strengthened their faith.
An Yankui, minister for Zion Reformed and released nineteen days prior, also shared a great testimony about his experience in the prison. He was beaten up, ridiculed, and humiliated. Although he experienced moments of weakness, he later became ambassador of the gospel through God’s grace and mighty power, sharing the gospel with many prisoners. Also, he managed to reclaim the Bible his wife sent to him from prison guards.
Several members of Early Rain shared their testimonies of experiencing God in persecution, weakness, sickness, and marriage relationships. Some of them admitted they once lost their faith and denied their church under police officers’ pressure, but they repented and came back to their church with the help and encouragement of the Holy Spirit. Pastor Chen Biao of Third Millennium ministries shared his story about Pastor Wang Yi and Early Rain Covenant Church.
Photo: An Yankui, recently released from prison, shared his testimony (ChinaAid source)
Early Rain sent out three prayer request letters on the afternoon and evening of December 9. It was written in the letters:
“Please pray that our almighty God is with Elder Li Yingqiang’s family and protects them in the police station. Please pray for God to help pastor Wang Yi while he serves God in the prison and protects every brother and sister of Early Rain Covenant Church. Please pray for China. Pray for God to use our testimonies and see our willingness to suffer for the gospel. The gospel is so precious and our lives are so brief. May God make us be aware of the urgency to share the gospel! We love our country. May more people be saved!
Thank God for His grace on Early Rain Covenant Church and allowing our testimony conference to occur. God’s children shared testimony for the gospel. We didn’t disturb social order. On the contrary, we were building a real social order. God, please help us and double our joy!”
Elder Li Yingqiang posted on social media after he was released at 10:30 pm. He said:
“December 9 is not only an anniversary for Early Rain Covenant Church. It is also an anniversary for all churches. This is a beautiful day God has given us. Today’s greatest blessing is that elder Qin Defu came back home safely. Pastor Wang Yi is still in prison, but I believe angels will send him beautiful messages and comforts. Thank you, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ!”
~Yu Bing, China Aid Special Reporter