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02/04/2022 Washington, D.C.—Pastor Wang Yi was the pastor and founder of the Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC), a house church based in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, China. Pastor Wang Yi has been in police custody since his arrest on Dec 14, 2018 

Pastor Wang was a staunch advocate for Christians and religious freedom in China. Prior to his arrest, Pastor Wang had become a celebrated name among Chinese Christian leaders, having even met with U.S. President George Bush in 2006. Among Pastor Wang’s works, he published an essay criticizing the Chinese government’s control over religion.  

In a Martin Luther-like fashion, Pastor Wang directed his message to the Chinese Communist government, the regulator of religious practice in China. In Pastor Wang’s 95 Thesis, he challenged the government’s Sinicization of the gospel, upheld the supremacy of God and God’s delegated authority given to the Chinese state, and encouraged Chinese Christians to peacefully disobey the rules placed on Chinese Christians, which would limit their duty to fulfill the Great Commission. 

“As long as the government maintains the mentality of “Unity of Church and State,” continues to consider religious affairs as internal government matters, violently interferes with the Church’s power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and refuses to allow any local church to independently register with any civil affairs departments, the Church must hold firm the above declarations of the House Church, that we will obey any legal, administrative management, and respect the government’s authority of the sword; but on the other hand, with the use of non-violence, maintain our opposition in our conscience, walk in the way of the cross, hold firm to the Church’s sovereignty and freedom of faith, and protect the believer’s freedom of conscience.” 

 Excerpt from Wang Yi’s 95 Thesis: The Reaffirmation of Our Stance on the House Church 

Pastor Wang’s advocacy for the rights of Chinese Christians and house churches quickly subjected him to the scrutiny of the Chinese State. In December 2018, he and nearly 100 members of the church were detained by Chinese authorities. Having suspected a future arrest, Pastor Wang prepared a letter two months prior, which was to be released shortly after his arrest. In his Declaration of Faithful Disobedience, Pastor Wang stood by his conviction to uphold God’s truths, to disobey unjust Chinese laws, and to let his suffering lead others toward the future heavenly kingdom that would come.  

“If God decides to use the persecution of this Communist regime against the church to help more Chinese people to despair of their futures, to lead them through a wilderness of spiritual disillusionment and through this to make them know Jesus, if through this he continues disciplining and building up his church, then I am joyfully willing to submit to God’s plans, for his plans are always benevolent and good.”  

Excerpt from Wang Yi’s My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience 

In December 2019, Pastor Wang was found guilty on charges of “incitement to subvert state power” and “operating an illegal business,” both are familiar charges for those running unregistered house churches and practicing outside of the sanctioned rules for religious groups in China. The Chengdu People’s Court sentenced Pastor Wang to nine years in jail. Several of his family members were placed under house arrest, and detained members of the church were later charged with lesser offenses. 

To this day, Pastor Wang continues to endure his imprisonment, denying the charges leveled against him. He continues to run the race set out for him in passionate pursuit of the Great Commission in China. While the lights may shine bright over Beijing’s Olympic games this evening, pray for the victims like Pastor Wang, who China hides in the dark. 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10

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This story is part of ICC’s series Shackled to the Podium, a series where we remember those who have suffered or are currently suffering persecution by the Chinese Communist Party on account of their faith. This series will populate daily for the duration of the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Click here to read more about the project.