Chinese officials swept up the outspoken pastor of a prominent house church in Chengdu along with elders, members, seminary students and parents of students in a crack-down on Sunday night, December 9, 2018. Several government departments scoured the city to locate the Christians in their homes and workplaces.
“Police have broken down doors, swarmed apartment complexes, and ransacked homes to detain more than 100 leaders and members of the well-known house church,” reports World magazine. They searched homes in the middle of the night and are pressuring Christians to sign papers declaring Early Rain Covenant Church an “evil cult” and promising to never again attend the church. Police arrested those who did not sign.
“Our purpose isn’t to avoid persecution but to bring both our faith and the persecution we face out into the open,” Pastor Wang Yi had told World earlier this year.
The church had planned for a government raid but the swift attack took nearly all the church staff at once.
It began when police took Early Rain’s cameraman outside the church. Police shut off the electricity to a staff member’s apartment before detaining him. Three other church members were arrested when they came to check on him. The seminary library’s electricity was also cut.
Police followed and arrested one church member who visited her parents in northeastern China. The printing business of another church member, which designed their hymnals, was raided and equipment confiscated. Early Rain’s school was cancelled. A young student who showed up for class was taken by police. Police told parents to send their kids to public schools.
A church elder asked Christians to:
“Pray that God would give us the courage and the strength to deal with this persecution.”
“That those [in detention] would be a good witness, and that the church members wouldn’t compromise, but instead … they would know God is real and that He will protect them.”