The Chinese government just sentenced Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Church to 9 years in prison.
The New York Times reports, “As part of his sentence, he will also be stripped of his political rights for three years and have 50,000 renminbi, or almost $7,200, of his assets seized, according to the statement.”
The government stated that the charges related to subverting state power and illegal business operations. The Early Rain Church posted a Facebook message in response, saying, “Pastor Wang Yi was just sentenced to 9 years in prison for proclaiming the gospel.”
The post also shared a personal message from Pastor Wang Yi:
“I hope God uses me, by means of first losing my personal freedom, to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.”
You can read the entire Facebook post here.
The saga began last year on December 28 when the police raided the Early Rain Church and arrested Pastor Wang Yi, his wife Jiang Rong, and ten elders of the well-known 750-member church for holding “illegal” services. Some 100 believers were detained, questioned, and later released. Pastor Wang’s wife was also released. Pastor Wang remained in detention.
The Chinese government implemented new regulations in February, and they continue to tighten their grip on both state and underground churches. Open Doors CEO, David Curry, says the government is trying to turn the church into “a Chinese church, not a church of Jesus.”
“There will be even more pressure on the Body of Christ in China,” Curry adds.” The government is trying to force out unregistered churches.”
The growing squeeze on Christians in China is alarming. The government continues to use surveillance to control its citizens; youth under the age of 18 are not allowed to attend church services; and in the state-regulated Three-Self Churches, the government forbids church leaders from lifting up the name of Jesus in its services.
In the closing of Early Rain’s Facebook message, Pastor Wang Yi shares these words:
“Jesus is the Christ, son of the eternal, living God. He died for sinners and rose to life for us. He is my king and the king of the whole earth yesterday, today, and forever. I am his servant, and I am imprisoned because of this. I will resist in meekness those who resist God, and I will joyfully violate all laws that violate God’s laws.”
Please join us in prayer for Pastor Wang Yi, who remains a prisoner in China for the gospel. And please remember to pray for the multitude of Christians who face growing persecution in China today.