Early Rain Covenant Church, the Chinese megachurch that has seen its senior pastor Wang Yi put behind bars for nine years, has spoken out following the sentencing.
Early Rain has been oppressed by government officials for a number of years, primarily because it is a thriving community of faith that refuses to bow down to government idolatry.
It’s pastor, Wang Yi, has been repeatedly intimidated and threatened with arrest for simply preaching the gospel with boldness and calling out the sin of the militant communist government.
At the end of last year, however, Yi finally received his punishment — 9 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power and illegally operating a business.”
The crackdown on Early Rain began in December 2018, when dozens of elders and church members were detained indefinitely. But it was Yi, the frontman who had openly called on President Xi Jinping to repent, who was kept in custody while his fellow believers were gradually released.
Now, following the imprisonment of its leader, Early Rain has issued a statement accusing the government of committing a grave “sin against God.”
“Do you not know that this is an abuse of your authority?” they asked.
Incredibly, despite the relentless persecution that the church’s members have been subjected to, the faith community insists it will pray for the communist regime.
“We do not hate you. On the contrary, our merciful and righteous God wants us to love you and to pray for you,” the statement reads, according to International Christian Concern.
Alongside receiving extensive jail time, Pastor Yi had $7,200 of his personal assets confiscated by the government and has been stripped of his political rights for three years.
A newly released statement from Pastor Yi’s lawyer indicated that his client’s sentencing deviated from the normal legal process and was kept extremely discreet.
“On December 26th, 2019, relevant personnel took Wang Yi’s parents to the Chengdu Intermediate Court to apply to attend the trial. In the afternoon, Pastor Wang Yi was secretly tried,” the lawyer wrote. “His wife Jiang Rong was not allowed to attend the trial. During the trial, Wang Yi pleaded not guilty. In his closing statement, he said that no matter how long his sentence was, he would not appeal. According to those who attended the trial, Pastor Wang Yi was much thinner than he was before, but he was in a good mental state.”facebook.com/prayforearlyrain
According to the attorney, the “authorities only published a one-sentence report” on the verdict and the report “did not provide any details about his so-called crimes.”
The lawyer concluded by asking believers across the globe to “continue praying for Pastor Wang Yi’s health while he serves his sentence, for revival within Early Rain Covenant Church in the midst of this persecution, and for the conscience and future of Chinese society.”