China (MNN) — Early Rain Covenant Church’s pastor Wang Yi is facing new charges from China’s Communist government. In addition to “inciting subversion,” Wang has been accused of “illegal business activity.”
Local authorities arrested over 100 members of the prominent Early Rain Covenant Church in early December. The church is one of many that refuse to register with the Religious Affairs Bureau and submit to Communist censorship.
Pastor Wang’s wife, Jiang Rong, was released on bail last month and reunited with their son after 6 months in prison. Along with Pastor Wang, several other church members remain detained. Some have fled China to seek asylum for religious persecution.
This massive crackdown on a prominent church instantly made headlines and served as an ominous example of the increasing pressure Chinese Christians face.
John Pudaite, President and CEO of Bibles For The World, says, “I think the situation in China just needs to be bathed in a lot of prayer. We do see a tightening of things. A lot of the ministries we’ve been to talking with are working with the registered Church, and so they don’t face as much of the oppression or difficulties [and] persecution that we’re seeing that is coming down on the unregistered Church.
“The underground Church has been given basically two years to get registered, ‘or else.’ They’ve been given no other options. So the clock is ticking on that. At the same time, there are pressures on the registered Church to try to minimize influence from the West.”
In registered churches, government authorities closely monitor religious activities. Several churches in the Shandong province were forced to replace Christian hymns with Communist anthems. In Guizhou province’s capital, residents who report illegal religious activities will receive a cash reward totaling around $1,000 USD.
Bibles For The World legally provides Mandarin Bibles to hundreds of thousands of believers in China. Pudaite says these Chinese Christians need the global Body of Christ’s support now more than ever.
“We pray that we, the ministers working in China collaboratively, can work together to keep strengthening the Chinese Church and the believers there and keep helping to provide the tools that they need [such as] God’s Word and other resources to strengthen their work.”
He asks, “If there’s a time — which very well may come — that we’re not allowed to do any sort of ministry in China, [pray] the Church would be strong and able to be sustained throughout any difficulties or oppression they may face.”
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Header photo courtesy of Aapo Haapanen via Flickr: https://bit.ly/2LdoqpU