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11/22/2021 China (International Christian Concern) –  On Wednesday, November 17, many Christian members of Early Rain Qingcaodi Church in Deyang, China were arrested by the Deyang police. Those arrested included church elder Wu Jiannan and his wife, colleagues Liu Wuyi, Liu Yongbo, and Lang Enguang, and retired pastor Hao Mingchang and his wife Yang Yufeng. Elder Wu Jiannan and his wife were released on the eve of their arrest; however, the others who were arrested still remain in detention.

The name “Early Rain” hearkens back to Early Rain Covenant Church, a church in Chengdu, China which has famously run into many confrontations with the Chinese authorities. Early Rain Qingcaodi Church (Qingcaodi) is Early Rain Covenant Church’s church plant in Deyang. It is also its own member within the Western China Reformed Presbytery.

Qingcaodi’s troubles with the Chinese authorities stretch back to 2018, when the church’s former elder, Hao Ming, signed the “Joint Statement: A Declaration for the Sake of Christian Faith” launched by Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church. This statement, a global declaration of faith and religious freedom for Christians, was originally published in September 2018 with signatures from 439 Chinese pastors. Many of the signatories of the statement were either jailed or faced similar difficulties from the Chinese authorities for their defense of Christianity.

As a result of the publication of the joint statement, Chinese police officers cracked down on Early Rain Covenant Church, and soon after, confronted Qingcaodi. They raided Qingcaodi by breaking in, expelling the Christians, and posting a ban notice at the church’s entrance. The ban notice was issued by China’s Religious Affairs Bureau and Civil Affairs Bureau. In spite of these difficulties, Early Rain Qingcaodi Church managed to persist.

However, the hardship increased starting on December 11, 2018, when Chinese police officers began to consistently pressure the landlord of Qingcaodi to terminate the lease, threatened to fine him over $30,000, and ordered the church community to move out of the building by the next day. Elders rejected these demands and told the authorities that they would proceed with their services as usual. The following evening, many police officers broke into the church, expelled a bible study group that was meeting, and posted another ban notice on the door issued by China’s Religious Affairs Bureau. Two years later, in March 2021, the Sichuan Province Department of Civil Affairs included Early Rain Covenant Church and Early Rain Qingcaodi Church on their list of illegal organizations, contributing to the recent arrest of members of Qingcaodi.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected].