CHENGDU — The husband of a member of China’s Early Rain Covenant Church, who is among the more than 100 people who have been detained this month surrounding their affiliation or participation with an unregistered church, says that others in the detention center had great interest in hearing about the gospel during his time in holding.
“[Even though] there were only 11 beds and 31 people living there, everyone there eagerly wanted to hear the gospel,” reads a testimony posted as part of a status on the Pray for Early Rain Covenant Church Facebook page.
The name of the man was not provided, only the notation that he had been detained for five days. He is reportedly not a member of the church, and is not yet a Christian, but his wife is. He was taken into custody along with his wife anyway and placed in the detention center.
“Everyone asked me to give them my phone number. Some of them were drug dealers. They said they would contact me as soon as they got out and that they would take their wives to church,” the testimony outlines. “They all called me professor and loved listening to me talk about the gospel. … As long as someone was willing to speak, everyone else loved to listen.”
The man said that those being held with him wanted to wash his feet before he left.
“When it came time for me to leave, they didn’t want me to leave,” he outlined. “They bought a kettle, put hot water inside of it, and wrapped it in a blanket until the evening. When evening came, they said, ‘Professor, you’re leaving and we don’t want you to leave. Let us wash your feet.’ This was such an uncommon occurrence there. Having my feet washed with warm water moved me so much.”
One member of Early Rain Covenant Church said that the man came to her house and shared about his time at the detention center. The story was an encouragement to her heart.
“I thought of our husbands. They are all very good speakers, and there are many people willing to listen to them there. God has clearly sent them to the people in that place,” she said. “I think we can describe this as hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Each person is longing to hear someone tell them about the gospel, to tell them about the Truth.”
As previously reported, on Dec. 9, 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 following Sunday, those who were free sought to meet at the church, but police surrounded the building so that none could enter. Dozens of members therefore went to an area park to worship the Lord together, but police took away those leading the gathering. Christians were forced to meet in their homes or other locations this past Lord’s Day.
20 Christians associated with the church are currently being held in criminal detention, with another 5 being held in administrative detention.
Early Rain Covenant Church also reports that the Chengdu Qingyang District Shuangyanjing Community Police are now utilizing the church sanctuary as police office space, and two affiliated church plants—Linxishu Church and Enyue Church—have been seized by authorities.
The church asks for prayer for those who are facing criminal charges, as well as for their families. It also requests that Christians pray for the salvation of the police officers and others in power who have persecuted them.
“Pray for the brothers and sisters who are locked up. Ask that the Lord would protect, strengthen and use them mightily, that they may become unique ambassadors of the Kingdom of God,” the Pray for Early Rain Covenant Church page posted on Monday. “Pray for the family members and children of those who are locked up. Ask the Lord to comfort, protect, and provide for them, to be for them a husband and a father.”
“Pray for the police officers, guards, and grid monitors that the brothers and sisters are encountering. Ask the Lord to awaken their consciences, to bring them out of deception, and to cause them to be drawn to and persuaded by the gospel to which the brothers and sisters are testifying.”