(Church in Chains) — Dec. 9 marked the first anniversary of the raid on Early Rain Covenant Church and the arrest of Pastor Wang Yi, who is in jail awaiting trial, and his wife Jiang Rong, who was released on bail in June and is under house arrest.
In the week following the raid at least 150 church members were arrested, all of whom have been released except for elder Qin Defu, who Qin Defu and family has been sentenced to four years in prison for “illegal business operations” – a charge that relates to his involvement in printing and distributing 20,000 Bibles and other books for church use without a license.
Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) is located in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, and is one of China’s most prominent unregistered churches, with more than eight hundred members plus an affiliated primary school and Bible school.
The church began in 2008 in the home of Wang Yi, formerly a well-known civil rights lawyer and law professor, but it grew rapidly – at the time of last December’s raid the church was renting two floors in an office building. On the Sunday following the raid, church members arrived at the premises to find it locked and guarded by police officers.