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60 Members Briefly Held by Police, One Arrested

08/16/2022 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – The heavily persecuted Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) in China was raided by police during a Sunday worship service on Aug. 14. Sixty church members were released after they were forced to provide their identification. One member who refused to cooperate was detained and charged with assaulting police.

The Chengdu-based house church was holding its in-person service at a tea shop when more than 20 police officers from the Wuhou district in uniform and plainclothes raided the venue. The police announced that ERCC was disbanded and the gathering illegal. They locked the doors and refused to let members leave until they supplied identification.

Xing Hongwei was reluctant to give his personal information and resisted the police as they forced him toward the registration. Due to his resistance, Hongwei was arrested, handcuffed, and led away along with his wife, Zhao Qing.

ERCC members waited for Hongwei outside the police station, only to learn that he was transferred elsewhere and would not be released anytime soon. Hongwei’s wife said he was charged with “assaulting police.”

“China’s ongoing crackdown against ERCC is the prime example of how Beijing continues to disregard religious freedom for its people even if the Constitution guarantees this right,” said Gina Goh, International Christian Concern’s (ICC) Regional Manager for Southeast Asia. “Since the incarceration of ERCC Pastor Wang Yi and elder Qing Derfu in 2018, the government has not ceased its harassment and persecution of the house church. The government’s goal is to see all house churches extinct so they can fully control Christianity in China.”

ERCC members said brother Hongwei is a gentle spirit committed to charity and education and has translated multiple books on missionaries. He disdained the authoritarian regime and was detained earlier for ten days after protesting the police beating of ERCC Pastor Wang Yi’s mother in February 2019.

Hongwei was infected with meningitis last year and nearly lost his life. He is still recovering from the disease and is on medication.

ERCC said in a statement, “The criminal detention of brother Xing is the persecution of faith by the authorities. It is an extension of the 12.09 crackdown and oppression against ERCC. This type of clampdown is coherent and ongoing. The police should stop persecuting and repressing our church, treating our members as second-class citizens as if we were in the Cultural Revolution era because God’s judgment is real.”

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