By Gina Goh
10/31/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Imagine a day when you return home, only to find that the keyhole to your door has been filled with glue. You are blocked from entering your own home.
Imagine a day when your landlord asks you to move out immediately because you refuse to renounce your faith. When you do not comply, you find that the water, gas, and electricity of your rented property are suddenly cut off. You now live in darkness.
Imagine a day when you are teaching several children from your church at your home, but the police suddenly break in and arrest you after beating your family, including your young child. Your dogs are also “confiscated” by the police.
We often hear that there is a price to pay when we follow Christ. For members of the heavily targeted Chengdu-based Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) in China, all of the above have become a recurring nightmare, all because they would not budge in and leave their house church regarded by the authorities as a “cult.”
After the December 9 crackdown in 2018, where hundreds of ERCC members were arrested along with their leaders after a raid to their church, the local authorities adopted a high-handed policy towards these churchgoers.
Surveillance, harassment, pressure to neighbors, and threats are all too familiar to ERCC members, especially those who actively serve and are vocal about the oppression against them. The local government treats them as trouble and only wants their absence.
This is evident in the latest wave of targeted attacks – dozens of members face threats, detention, and violence, even in the comfort of their own homes.
On Sunday October 24, ERCC preacher Dai Zhichao, who was detained in August along with 27 others and later released, had unwanted guests banging on his door in the early morning.
Soon, his door was spray-painted in red: “Pay the debt you own”. Glue filled his keyhole. At 10 AM, the power to his home was cut off for several hours, until he inquired the community management office, who claimed that the outage was caused by the tripped circuit breaker.
A few days later, on October 28, Su Qiong’s home was raided as she was homeschooling several ERCC children. The police forced themselves in, removed Christian books and a hanging “For God So Love the World,” beat Su, her husband Wang Song, and their eight-year-old son, before taking away the couple and one remaining adult to Wuhou District’s police station. Their two dogs were removed for no reason.
They were released later, yet the surveillance of them continues.
ERCC also shares that two other families who are part of Preacher Dai’s “Treading Water” small group, brother Shen Bing and brother Niu Chuang, were forced to move elsewhere in recent weeks.
According to China Aid, other ERCC members have faced mounting persecution in recent months as well. Officials shut off power and water to Preacher Lu Xuetao’s house for nine months to punish him for allowing brother Jia Xuewei to live with his family. Brother Jia has been threatened repeatedly for he refuses to leave Chengdu.
The keyholes to brother Zhu Hong and brother Liang Huali’s houses were also obstructed. Officials harassed brother Tang Chunliang and his wife Zheng Chuanjuan, asking them to move. Meanwhile, sister Liu Wei has been forced to move five times in the last two years. Police summoned brother Xiao Luobiao to Hongpailou police station on October 18 accusing him of “organizing an evil cult.”
The list goes on and on, with each new day comes new trials and tribulations.
While ERCC is bearing the brunt of the ongoing clampdown against house churches across China, it does not mean that other churches have it easier. Nearly every weekend, raids and arrests are reported by brave Chinese Christians through their highly censored social media. These adversities are now their routine.
When we constantly get the same news, it is only natural for us to feel fatigued and want to look the other way. Yet the hardships and persecution faced by our brothers and sisters in Christ do not fade as we go on to live our lives. The least we can do, is to lift them up with our prayers. When persecution hits them like a raging sea, let us ask God for His provision and protection over our Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ.
For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: firstname.lastname@example.org.