CHENGDU — Video posted to social media on Sunday shows members of Early Rain Covenant Church in China meeting outside after over 100 members were detained last week and police surrounded the building today so that none could enter. A report from the church outlines that those leading the river-side gathering were led away by authorities, as well as dozens of others in various locations throughout the city.
According to one Chinese-speaking viewer, the video shows the group singing Psalm 43:4, which states, “Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy. Yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.”
The Christians also recited from the Heidelberg Catechism, “What is your only comfort in life and death? That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Posts on the “Pray for Early Rain Covenant Church” Facebook page further outline that members initially sought to meet at the church for worship, but when they arrived, they found the gate locked and police standing at each entrance.
“The metal gate below the building where the church is was locked, and every entrance had many plainclothes police officers and SWAT team officers preventing people from entering the church,” it states. “They took away some of the brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters then conducted a small-scale worship meeting at a nearby park, which was also shut down by police.”
Three of those leading the outdoor meeting were taken into police custody.
As previously reported, last Sunday, Chinese police raided Early Rain Covenant Church, and also went to the homes of various church members of take them to the police station for questioning. Others were tracked down via their cell phones.
Wang Yi, the pastor of the church, which is unregistered with the Chinese government/Three-Self Church, was arrested for “inciting subversion of state power.” A number of elders were also held under charges of “stirring up trouble” and “illegal business operations.” Reports state that the church was shut down because it was “unauthorized.”
The organization China Partnership outlines that Yi, sensing that he might someday be arrested for operating an unregistered church, had penned a declaration in September outlining why he must obey God rather than men. He instructed the church to make his writings public should he be detained more than 48 hours.
“Those who lock me up will one day be locked up by angels. Those who interrogate me will finally be questioned and judged by Christ,” Yi wrote. “When I think of this, the Lord fills me with a natural compassion and grief toward those who are attempting to and actively imprisoning me. Pray that the Lord would use me, that He would grant me patience and wisdom, that I might take the gospel to them.”
Members of Early Rain Covenant Church similarly spoke with boldness on Sunday as they provided an update on the happenings in Chengdu.
“Lord, today we worship You in police cars. We worship You in police stations. We worship You in detention centers. We worship You in prisons. And we worship You in homes. We have no other goal except to worship You alone,” they wrote. “We ride in buses heading to police stations as though riding down the road to Zion. For You tell us, Lord, that You are seeking worshipers who worship You in spirit and in truth. May You be pleased with our worship. We have nothing to offer You but our hearts. We offer them up sincerely to You now.”