A Chinese court in the southwestern city of Chengdu sentenced a Christian pastor to nine years in prison last week.
The People’s Intermediate Court convicted Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church, in a secret trial, of “illegal business operations” and “subversion.” A lawyer hired by Wang’s mother says the business charge is the result of a book-printing operation Wang was involved in. The books described Christian culture. The content, the court charged, was an attempt to subvert (or undermine) Chinese rule. The court also fined Wang and confiscated his personal property, amounting to about $7,000 worth of belongings.
China considers Early Rain Covenant Church an unregistered church. That means the communist government has not approved of or sanctioned this church to operate legally. China has a long history of prosecuting religious groups and leaders whose teachings do not promote communist ideals among the population.
Authorities in China began a crackdown on Early Rain in December 2018. At that time, they arrested more than 100 leaders and members, including Wang. Many have since been released from prison. In November, a court sentenced Qin Defu, an Early Rain elder, to four years in prison. He too was charged with operating an illegal business.
History has proven that the true church of Jesus Christ often grows under persecution. The sentence against Pastor Wang Yi sounds harsh and unjust. But his congregation continues to hope in God’s purposes. Following the pastor’s sentencing, the church posted on its Facebook page: “May the Lord use Pastor Wang Yi’s imprisonment to draw many to Himself and to bring glory to His name.”
(Pastor Wang Yi, left, with his wife at their home in Chengdu, China. ChinaAid via AP)