Prayers Needed for Early Rain Covenant Church on Crackdown Anniversary
By Gina Goh
12/09/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – This house church in Sichuan always knew that persecution might eventually show up at its doorstep. Yet the members were never deterred by it, and continued to live out their faith despite constant harassment by the authorities.
Little did they know that their 500-member strong church would become the protagonist of one the most serious and well-known cases in Beijing’s recent crackdown against Christianity. On December 9, 2018, local authorities raided Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) and arrested more than 100 church leaders and members, before confiscating the church’s property.
While most of those arrested were released over the course of several months, the church’s lead pastor, Wang Yi, and elder Qin Derfu remain behind bars under trumped-up charges, cut off from communication with the outside world. Pastor Wang’s wife and son, along with his parents, have been closely watched by the police and no one knows their whereabouts.
Those who were released, including elder Li Yingqiang, elder Su Bingsen, and Li Xiaofeng, were forcibly sent back to their respective hometowns with the aim of dispersing the congregation.
ERCC members who are still in Sichuan were forced to break into small groups and conduct home gatherings instead. Yet, the authorities constantly harass and pressure them to move. Some members lost their jobs and were kicked out of their rental properties thanks to the local police’s relentless oppression.
A friend of ERCC shared on Twitter that in the past few days, many members were visited and warned by local police. They were told that they could not gather on the 8th or the 9th, or else their family members would be arrested alongside them.
Zhang Peihong, who legally represents Pastor Wang Yi, remembers Wang on Facebook today, “It’s been a year, my friend, brother, and pastor. Not a single photo leaked out, not a single Bible entered [prison cells]. What’s more, even until now [your] lawyer has not been given permission to read your files. Is it because they too know that those charges, facts, and evidence against you, are all jokes that cannot be revealed?’
On this day, let us join China Partnership and pray for our persecuted Chinese brothers and sisters with this prayer guide.
- Pray for Individual Believers
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” — Hebrews 12:1-2
- Pray for the imprisoned and their families. (Hebrews 13:3)
- Pray for believers threatened and terrorized by the police. (Hebrews 13:6)
- Pray for the weak and the fearful. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
- Pray for those who have lost jobs or homes for their faith. (Hebrews 11:16)
- Pray for Pastors and Church Leaders
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known…” — Colossians 1:24-25
- Pray for churches as they strategize their next steps to navigate persecution. (Matthew 10:16; Psalm 37: 5-6)
- Pray for strength for pastors ministering to dispersed churches. (Philippians 4:13; Colossians 1:29)
- Pray that God will teach pastors how to exhort the suffering Church with his Word. (Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 2:1-2)
- Pray for pastors’ knowledge and love for Christ to deepen through suffering. (Philippians 1:9-10, 3:8)
- Pray for God’s Kingdom to Advance
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” —1 Peter 1:8-9
“Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” —Philippians 1:18
- Pray that God will empower the Church to love and witness to those who hurt them. (Romans 12:19-20)
- Pray for the light of Christ to reach the darkest places—in prisons and among the persecutors. (1 Peter 2:9)
- Pray for an overflowing of joy, hope, faith, and love as the Church participates in the sufferings of Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-9)
- Pray for the Church to persevere and be kept blameless until the Gospel is proclaimed to all and Christ returns. (1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Peter 1:13-16)