China (MNN) — Pastor Wang Yi of China’s well-known Early Rain Covenant Church was sentenced to nine years in prison last week. The Chinese government never held a public trial for Pastor Wang, but charged him behind closed doors with “inciting subversion of state power” and “illegal business activities.”
Pastor Wang was arrested in December 2018 along with several other church members. Prior to his arrest, Pastor Wang prepared a six-page statement refuting what he guessed the government would charge him with as the leader of a popular underground church.
These latest kangaroo court proceedings are just one more nail in the coffin for religious freedom in China.
Joe Handley with Asian Access says, “In China, they’ve been hearing reports for the last two years basically of more and more crackdowns. So this forces the Church into a new era. How do we operate? We can’t operate like we have in the past. We can’t have what we would think of as a nice traditional church down the street.
“Younger generations might not know how to do this so they’re having to learn from the older generations that lived under secrecy [and] couldn’t have a public building or meet in a huge hall. So they’re having to shift altogether.”
Many Chinese churches are getting creative with how they meet, including this congregation:
“Basically, the entire church body walks in a park. They all have these headsets and they’re listening to what you and I would think of like a podcast. But in reality, one of those walkers is the pastor and he’s preaching into a microphone and they’re listening to it on their earbuds walking around the park together. So it’s just a new way to do church.”
Handley says even though believers face increasing pressure to conform to the Communist agenda, they are responding with love to their neighbors.
“They’re looking at societal issues and saying, ‘How can we be the hands and feet of Christ? How can we be the Body in the midst of the challenges we’re facing today?’
“So for instance, whether it’s the issues facing Hong Kong or pressures in different cities in mainland China…the Church is trying to rise to the occasion and step up in the midst of those challenges and face it to be Jesus to the people.”
This is how you can pray. Ask God to give Chinese believers wisdom and grace as they represent Jesus in their communities. Pray for more people in China to know the love of Christ as their hope above any political regimes.
Please also pray for Pastor Wang and his family, that they would sense the strength and comfort of the Holy Spirit in the midst of a heartbreaking prison sentence. Ask God to use Pastor Wang’s testimony of faithful courage to lead many others to Jesus.
Header photo of Pastor Wang Yi (far right) of Early Rain Covenant Church in front of the White House in 2006. (Header photo courtesy of ChinaAid)