Opinion: They passed through the valley of tears



Monday, December 9, 2019

Pastor Wang Yi (left) with his wife, Jiang Rong (right).
(Photo: ChinaAid)

They passed through the valley of tears: Notes on the Anniversary of the Early Rain Covenant Church Tragedy

By Yu Ren

ChinaAid note: Today marks the one year anniversary of a crackdown on Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Sichuan. Overnight more than 100 church members were taken into custody, including the church's pastor, Wang Yi.

This is the first article in a five-part series reflecting on the church and its case. The other articles will be published over the coming weeks.

Part I: The prophet in tears

Pastor Wang Yi's moments in the Circle of Friends [Editor’s note: Circle of Friends is a feature on WeChat, one of China’s social media platforms, that allows people to communicate with people they know] are set at 1:59 p.m. on Dec. 9, 2019. This is the last passage he left on social media while he was still free:

Pastor Wang Yi

“In 2018, China was ranked only 43 out of the “50 most dangerous countries for Christians in the world.” There was no martyrdom in the church, no pastor in prison, and no believer was persecuted [Editor’s note: On the contrary, ChinaAid documented at least one million persecution cases in the year 2018. For more information, please click here]. Many churches have not yet come to Golgotha to witness Christ's death on the cross, and they have begun to disperse even before going to the Gethsemane Garden to witness the kiss of Judas and the arrest of Christ.”

-- Long article at the end of the year, and Sunday greetings

2018: Reflections on the Religious War

1:59 p.m., December 9, 2018

He forwarded his article, Reflections on the Religious War, written on Dec. 8, in which he criticized the Chinese ruling party's strong suppression and infiltration of the reviving of the Chinese house church, pointing out that the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), as a vessel of “fighting atheism,” aims to bring people's souls into their hands. The new Regulations on Religious Affairs issued by SARA are intended to force Christians to betray God and worship the atheist government. He called on Chinese Christians to adhere to their faith, be strong and courageous, bear the cross, take the initiative to enter into suffering, take a path completely different from any sense of the “civil rights movement” or the “right-safeguarding discourse” in a bid to resist gently, taking the initiative to endure, and happily disobeying, and using the power of love to fight against the hatred pervading the Chinese society, and with Christian conscience and courage, with more active evangelical actions and louder praise, to oppose the “Orwellian nonsense.”

“Christians have to remain standing while being governed by the government, no matter how evil the government is,” he said. “But Christians must not be on their knees while being ruled by the government, no matter how good it is.”

About 30 minutes after the launch of these moments in the Circle of Friends, the house that pastor Wang Yi rented on Taisheng North Road in Chengdu was surrounded by dozens of police. Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong, were arrested at the same time on charges of “inciting subversion of the state power.” At about six o'clock that night, almost all police forces were deployed in Chengdu to arrest the members of the Early Rain Covenant Church. The police repeatedly raided the families of church co-workers and members. The homes of church elders and deacons were raided, and more than 100 Christians were arrested one after another. Also put under the control of the State Security were the Gospel-seeking citizens living in Chengdu. Their own WeChat groups, including the WeChat groups they belonged to, have all been banned. The student dormitories of the Theology College and the College of Humanities [Editor’s note: Both are associated with Early Rain Covenant Church] were searched, and all the students were taken away. Late into the night, the police were still frantically knocking on doors, attempting to break in.

At 9:36 that night, the church sent the first letter of intercession: “It's time. Oh, Lord, is it that you set up this church for this very moment? May you show your glory, and let us be taken away on the day of your resurrection, interrogated at the night of your interrogation, and fill us with the power of your resurrection. We wait for you as we wait for the dawn of the night!”

The Dec. 9 arrest has become a rare religious tragedy in recent years, and the risk index for China's Christians has risen sharply.

Wang Yi, 46, a pastor of the Early Rain Covenant Church, a family church in Chengdu, China, is a poet, university teacher, an influential public intellectual and constitutional scholar. One day in 2005, while standing on a high stool to take a book from the bookshelf, he suddenly fell down from the stool and lay on the ground, bleeding all over. Suddenly, he began to pray, full of inexplicable awe. This experience is not only the key to his faith, but also the prophecy of his future life: an invisible force leads him to descend from the high place of knowledge to the low place of dust, to prepare himself and wash the feet for those lost souls in the city. In the same year, he established a fellowship at home and was baptized. He also wanted to be a Christian scholar or Christian writer. But he found that in today's church the most serious shortage is preachers who are willing to leave behind their fishing boats and go down the road of preaching. In 2008, Wang Yi was called upon to resign from teaching and other secular positions and became a full-time preacher. On June 21, 2009, the Early Rain Covenant Church was banned by SARA and the police. That afternoon, Wang Yi and his colleagues prayed together to discuss measures to cope with this. He knelt on the ground and said, “Lord, I had some reservations with your call [Editor’s note: Many Christians believe that all lives have a specific calling that comes from God], intending to serve in your church for 20 years. But now I say to you, I am determined to serve you in this church until you take me to see you, and may you help me, Lord!”

In 2011, he was officially ordained as a pastor by members of the congregation. When resigning from Chengdu University, he did something that many would do differently. Without the university’s asking, he voluntarily returned a residential apartment given to him by the university, and the whole family started to live in a small rented house ever since. His way of breaking away from worldly customs is puzzling to his friends. For many years, he insisted on living in poverty like a Puritan, and his transport was a low-end electric bicycle. His faith in God increases with the decrease of his material desire. People often see him busy with preaching on the simple electric bike in what he calls “the city of desire.” His gentle and peaceful face, full of grace, forms a stark contrast with those anxious and indifferent faces around him. However, what he said stirred people's hearts. He said, “God has given me three treasures: move at any time, go to jail, and return to heaven at any time” [Editor’s note: The Bible urges Christians to consider it an honor to be persecuted for their faith, since Jesus was killed for his teachings. While Christians do not seek persecution, this is why Pastor Wang Yi calls going to jail his “treasure”].

Wang Yi was originally an independent intellectual, having little interaction with others. Like others, he established some illusory links with such concepts as big communities, countries and ethnic groups, and established abstract group relations with thousands of readers through writing. But in the service of the church, these relationships were broken one by one. He found that it was not as easy as he thought to establish a real, personal life relationship with dozens of people in the church. It is hard for some intellectuals to accept this after they believe in the Lord. After being cheated by the false collectivism ideology for a long time, people lack the power to enter a real group again. [In Christianity], people who are not related by blood are called “brothers and sisters,” which challenges the Chinese culture that pays attention to blood and geographical relationships. Wang Yi deeply felt that in contemporary China, the house church is almost the only social community with a rich life experience outside the national system, which has never been before. Once, Wang Yi was talking to a brother in the church, who was a worker. During the conversation, he suddenly had a deep self-examination: “If I were still a public intellectual, I would talk about state affairs, discuss the problems of laid-off workers, but I might not in my whole life share with a worker his personal hardship and sins and try to accompany him to experience these problems.” “In the past few years, I have been walking on the heavenly path with my brothers and sisters, feeling that what I can give them is far less than what they have given me.” “My experience in ministry and the tolerance and eventual harmony with co-workers despite initial difficulties, are all part of a painful and happy process. At first, I was more like a teacher, simply assuming the role of teaching. I was rigid and harsh. I lacked consideration and gentleness when serving some weak limbs. Now, I am still full of these shortcomings, and I am still in the process of constant reflection, adjustment, fragmentation, and repentance.”

Wang Yi's language training background enables him to infuse his sermons with poetry and passion. His theology, constitutionalism, and humanities background imbues his sermons with deep, realistic concern and a cultural mission. Because of the long-term government control and the burden of traditional culture, many Christians lack the ability to use the Bible to compare, analyse, and critique the complex reality, history, and culture. Wang Yi's testimony and articles have helped them improve in this regard. As an ancient, sustained civilization, the long-term self-sufficiency makes Chinese culture endogenous and exclusive, and it has a chauvinistic complex towards foreign cultures, especially foreign religions. 2,000 years of pantheism and polytheism have rendered the society into a state of disorganized individualism. In the past 70 years, exuberant atheism has given society the characteristics of collectivism and nationalism. The prophetic culture of Israel poses a great challenge to these traditions and realities. Because everyone is a prophet, Christians should criticize the king and the people at any time, and at the same time, they should give them hope. Therefore, they have attracted a lot of attacks. The radicals say they are weak, the liberals say they are arbitrary, the rationalists say they are pedantic and obsolete, the cultural conservatives say they have forgotten the ancestors, and the communists say they are subversive [Editor’s note: The author is writing about China’s own political context. In other countries, partisan and individual reactions to Christian ideas may be different]. In order for Christians to enter the narrow gate, Wang Yi must fight against various ideas on multiple fronts. He may defend truth as a lion, but he is silent as a lamb when facing a personal attack on himself. He said that if you haven't smiled at a person or prayed for him, then don't argue with him, because such argument is not out of love. He said that he would rather walk away from others' laughter when being taunted as a loser, or being portrayed as a clumsy speaker.

Compared with most Christians who avoid the topic of politics and religion, his concern for justice and his outspokenness are very striking. Because of his criticism, he has repeatedly touched the government's red line. His remarks have long been censored, his public number has been repeatedly blocked, and WeChat's Circle of Friends became his only ground to hold onto, though blogs on it are often deleted. But he said, “It's worth it to have my public number blocked. It's also worth it to be imprisoned. Because the value of the soul is higher than the sky.” His use of personal media to spread the Gospel has attracted a lot of criticism and support alike. He firmly cherishes the extremely scarce cyberspace where the right of speech exists, and his church has attracted some intellectuals and conscientious people who are concerned about justice, such as Li Yingqiang, who was engaged in folk education, Ran Yunfei, a writer, and so on. Many people have never met Wang Yi. They know him by listening to his audio sermons or reading his articles. They call him their “pastor on paper.” His rational, sacred, and religious sermons and prophetic vision have attracted them deeply, and some families even moved to Chengdu because of him. The Early Rain Covenant Church has grown rapidly from dozens to hundreds [of attendees] in recent years. He has won the respect of Christians not only because of his talent, but because his preaching is powerful, for he has been using his life to testify. A good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. He and his wife would often go to accompany those whose families have suffered from illness and setbacks. If someone was missing because of conscience crime [Editor’s note: This means a crime that the person was framed for due to what they believed], he would go to the police station to ask for the missing person and raise a sign outside the prison to show his support. He would demand of himself the same things he has taught the congregation. When talking about every sin, he never excludes himself. He calls upon everyone who has heard the words to repent, as he would often confess publicly.

The attraction of the Early Rain Covenant Church does not only come from Wang Yi's personal charm, but also because of their mature organizational system, a firm long-term team of elders and deacons and a group of members willing to abide by the sacred covenant. The Early Rain Covenant Church is a church of the Huaxi District Federation of Chengdu. It adopts the governance mode of the reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States, which is a Republican governance mode. From the pastor to elders and deacons, and to members, everyone’s deeds are under supervision. The constitution of the church is a thick volume. Before becoming a member, you need to undergo strict training, accept and recognize the constitution. The pastor, elders, and deacons are jointly voted on by the members. Before the Early Rain Covenant Church began to implement the membership system through the first vote, Wang Yi joked that if he lost the election, he would go out to find another church. There are many rules governing the conduct of ministers, including rule that talks on the Internet should be for the sole purpose of spreading the Gospel. How to protect, restrain, and reasonably supervise the pastor, and to enable him to give full play to his talents and promote him without inhibiting him—there are many requirements in the constitution. Wang Yi once said that he would not let his church become an independent church that lacks supervision. In that case, if the pastor commits a crime, the fellow members would be put in a miserable condition. Therefore, the accusations of Wang Yi's autocracy are groundless. Wang Yi attaches great importance to the concept of state, and has always stressed that the Early Rain Covenant Church should be a church that is always giving, generous, and living for the country.

Wang Yi often stressed the unique cultural concept of the prophet in the Hebrew culture: “To know before the world knows; to suffer before the world suffers.” The prophet must be weeping and suffering. In line with the principle of “doing justice, being compassionate, walking humbly with the Lord,” the church established the “petitioner fellowship” and set May 12-June 4 every year as the “month of praying for the country.” All of these are factors that increase the popularity of the church. Since Wang Yi became a full-time preacher, he and his church have drawn the close attention of the Chinese government, especially at some specific points of time, such as the two congresses in the spring [Editor’s note: These are annual meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference], the anniversary of the May 5 Wenchuan earthquake, June 4 [the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre] and the autumnal National Congress. In these days, the church's public prayer meetings were often affected. The police would send a large number of police forces to the church gate to prevent believers from entering the church. The police forces were deployed in advance around the key co-workers' homes, who were not allowed to go out. Wang Yi's personal freedom was restricted. He was even detained in advance until the end of the sensitive days. Wang Yi saw it as a rare opportunity to evangelize to the police. Once, on the eve of the May 12 prayer meeting, Wang Yi was taken to the police station as usual. The police asked him, “Why do you say God will judge the People's Republic of China?” He replied that it is written in the Bible. When the police asked where in the Bible such a thing was written, Wang Yi said the books of Isaiah and Revelation, and then told the police about two chapters. The police noted, “Isaiah and Revelation in the Bible say that God will judge all countries in the world, including the People's Republic of China,” and asked Wang Yi to sign the written record. The police officer said, “Although we know that the world's political powers will disappear and only your church will always exist. Is it a problem to say these things are going to die before death occurs?” Wang Yi replied, “Yes, so you brought me here.” In the face of constant surveillance, subpoenas, and border control, Wang Yi was once asked if he was worried about going to jail. Wang Yi expressed he had no concern. What he was concerned about was what groups, how many of such groups, and how many missionaries God will raise in the churches in China through persecution? Were there going to be any members from Early Rain Covenant Church?

Although the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the supreme law of China, clearly stipulates that citizens have religious freedom, such freedom has been repeatedly undermined by various provisions of the administrative department. In 2017, SARA issued the Regulations on Religious Affairs, Article 4 of which stipulates that the state protects normal religious activities according to the law and actively guides religions to adapt to the socialist society. Article 20 requires the establishment of places for religious activities not violate the provisions of Articles 4 and 5. From Feb. 1, 2018, SARA has worked in conjunction with the Public Security Bureau to forcibly enforce the Regulations on Religious Affairs and since interviewed house churches one by one, asking them to register with SARA. The conditions of registration are to recognize the socialist core values and accept the guidance of SARA. The purpose of the new Regulations on Religious Affairs is to push all the house churches that do not belong to the state church into becoming [state-run and censored] Three-self Churches.

Since ancient times, China has never had a religion independent from the government regime, and all religions had always been servants of the imperial power. Because of the Chinese ruling party's complete atheist position and its totalitarian strategy of advocating violent governance, the government has always been committed to controlling the Christian mind by controlling religion. The Three-Self Churches came into being in this context. They set up their own theological institutions, trained the priests who conform to socialist ideology to stand on the podium, explain nationalism and the specious relationship between church and state to the congregation, and raise the national flag and sing the National Anthem in the church. The traditional worship of imperial power and the contemporary worship of Caesar [Editor’s note: In this case “Caesar” refers to the governing power rather than the historical figure] are projected in the church, which results in the weakness of the church. Public sins or beliefs are gradually eroded, and many churches choose to remain silent or even opt to cooperate. Wang Yi chose to speak out. He openly criticized the Three-Self Churches, appealed to Xi Jinping to repent and called on the house churches to boycott the Regulations on Religious Affairs. He wrote many articles about the history of the Chinese house church, so that more people could know the origin and development of the Three-Self Church. He said, “The Three-Self Churches are temple fairs, not churches. This is because the essence of the Three-Self Movement is part of the government's transformation of the church into part of a pharaoh-like state.” Under his influence, some Christians chose to leave the Three-Self Church bravely and join a house church, as they would rather be persecuted for this [than stay in the Three-Self Church].

In recent years, Wang Yi and his colleagues have been making all sorts of preparations for possible persecution, from theological equipment and gaining secular knowledge to practicing their faith. In the autumn of 2017, the church invited lawyer Zhang Peihong to do legal training so the Christians would know how to use the existing laws to deal with the violation of public power. Two months before the danger approached, the key co-workers of the church had a number of thematic discussions on how to deal with persecution. The elders, deacons, co-workers, and ordinary believers of the church shared their own feelings, including their struggles, weaknesses, firmness, and inspirations. Elder Li Yingqiang said that their family had been ready for a long time. Wang Yi's wife, Jiang Rong, said she and her 11-year-old son, Shuya, were preparing [for persecution]. When Shuya was six or seven years old, he saw a police officer threaten his father, saying, “Sooner or later, I will kill you.” At that time, he was very frightened, and now he has gradually learned to wait for his father to come home peacefully by prayer. Wang Yi also wrote an article entitled, What I Can Do In the Face of Persecution. “I fully know and acknowledge that I am a sinner who cannot be put to great use. I only hope that the sovereign grace of Christ will not abandon me in persecution and that the spirit of the Lord will always be with me, so that I can hold these positions with great patience and hope while in isolation after enforcement measures are imposed upon me, either until I see the Lord gloriously, or until the Lord's victory, or until I return to the church podium.”

As can be seen from Wang Yi's personal media—the WeChat Circle of Friends—2018 was a very unforgettable year for him and his church. This year, they experienced enormous persecution and great grace. During the year, he was not only sad for the revocation of the lawyer’s license of Sui Muqing, a human rights lawyer, but also sad for Li Baiguang's sudden death. He prayed for the remembrance of the four gentlemen of “June 4, 1989” and also for the butcher and the ink-splashing girl. He wept for Liu Xiaobo's widow, Liu Xia, who regained freedom, and he was happy for all the churches standing firm in persecution. He insisted on leading the morning prayer at the church and carefully preparing for every sermon. He presided over funerals as well as wedding ceremonies. He took a train to visit a priest who was a prisoner of faith and just released from prison, and also went to the Wenchuan earthquake-stricken area with his colleagues to preach. He was arrested, beaten, and released by the police and was arrested again at the end of the year. As he said, “In terms of physical rights: one must suffer through endurance. In freedom of conscience: one must suffer through intolerance. Believers live in this world, suffering either physically or conscientiously. The secret of the Gospel is that suffering is freedom.”

After church members were once detained by police for giving a street sermon, Wang Yi went to the police station to wait for them. A cadre of SARA came out and told him to study the Regulations on Religious Affairs well. Wang Yi replied that they had learned and decided to disobey the law from the beginning to the end and were willing to face the consequences.

As early as the six months before Dec. 9, Early Rain Covenant Church had experienced a big arrest. They planned to hold a prayer meeting for the 10th anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2018. However, the Chengdu municipal government behaved like facing a great enemy. On May 10, Wang Yi was asked to cancel the prayer meeting by the police and state security. On May 11, fellow workers were threatened by the police not to attend the 10th anniversary special meeting of the May 12 earthquake. On the very day of May 12, Pastor Wang Yi and Elder Li Yingqiang, the relevant departments of Chengdu, together with the police, mobilized about 3,000 people to stop the prayer of Early Rain Covenant Church, seized more than 10,000 Bibles and other books and nearly 1,000 CDs. Nearly 300 Christians were illegally detained on their way to the church and taken to the police station and had their interview notes kept on file. Christians were humiliated and assaulted in the police stations. However, they sang hymns and prayed at the police stations and preached the Gospel to the police. Christians who were not arrested rushed to the police station, singing hymns outside and waiting for their brothers and sisters. The beautiful and holy singing makes the city stately, where people tend to indulge in drinking and feasting. Wang Yi was taken to the police station on the night of the 11th and didn't go home until late the next night. He was stripped naked at the police station, and even his wedding ring was taken off. At that time, he realized that he had to face God alone, and even marriage had to be left outside of the sanctuary. At the police station, he prepared the completed draft for his Sunday sermon the next day, entitled The Path of the Cross, the Life of a Christian. “The religious case of Early Rain Covenant Church has begun,” he said. “I praise the Lord for two things. One is to choose the 10th anniversary of the May 12 earthquake, which is the sign of the Lord's special grace. Second, I am grateful for you, because we embrace the coming of this day not in retreat, not in hiding and escape, but in excitement and praise, racing to usher in this day. "

The national tragedy prayer meeting on June 4 was once again set upon [by the government]. Li Yingqiang, the elder, was beaten by the police. Wang Yi was trampled by the police. Jiang Rong was taken to the police station for the first time, together with Wang Yi and Li Yingqiang. Wang Yi said humorously that both the husband and wife had walked the red carpet together once. At the police station, the police asked, “Why do you have to pray on this day?” Wang Yi replied, "In today's China, apart from the church, who will pray for peace, repentance, and forgiveness for this country on this day?" “Everyone pretends that this day doesn't exist, pretends that sin doesn't exist, lies don't exist, sufferings and humiliation don't exist, wishing they could take this day out of the calendar.”

At the end of August 2018, in response to the Chinese government's persecution of the family church, he launched a Joint Signature of Pastors at home and abroad, which called on pastors to stand up and fight for God in the fight for souls launched by Caesar [Editor’s note: Caesar, here, is a metaphor for the government]. By Nov. 29, Early Rain Covenant Church announced that 458 pastors had signed. The final Christmas edition would have been released by Dec. 10. But this final version was not seen.

Wang Yi had learned in advance that he would be arrested. His friends advised him to flee, but he refused. He said, “I will live or die with my church.” In the months before Dec. 9, he and his elders and deacons would take a small bag with them every day when they went out, which contained toiletries. They were prepared for not being able to return home every day when they went out. He had arranged his defense lawyer, Zhang Peihong, ahead of time, and wrote What I Can Do in the Face of Persecution. "I fully know and acknowledge that I am a sinner who cannot be put to great use. I only hope that the sovereign grace of Christ will not abandon me in persecution, that the spirit of the Lord will always be with me, so that I can hold these positions with great patience and hope while in isolation after enforcement measures are imposed upon me, either until I see the Lord gloriously, or until the Lord's victory, or until I return to the church podium.”

Wang Yi's faith is reminiscent of Abraham's offering of Isaac, and he is offering himself and his family as sacrifices to God [Editor’s note: The author is referring to the biblical story of Abraham, who is a prominent religious figure in Christianity. According to the story, God commanded Abraham to go up on a mountain and sacrifice his only son, Isaac, on an altar. Abraham obeyed, but God, pleased with Abraham’s devotion, intervened, sending a ram for the sacrifice instead. Christians view the story as an example of the devotion with which one should follow God as well as a foreshadowing of the death of Jesus]. Many Christians are still receiving the recordings and words he left behind. In 2018, he had served in the church for seven years. Originally, he had planned to take a sabbatical in 2019, but God let him continue to work in this way. Christians believe that no matter what darkness he is in, he will not stop preaching the Gospel. For darkness cannot prevail over light.

So far, Pastor Wang Yi has been arrested for one year. Except for the early morning of Dec. 10, 2018, when a fellow church worker was being taken for interrogation and saw the pastor from a distance, also being interrogated in another room, no one else in the church has seen him. He was dressed in a yellow vest, and looked as if he were praying. His wife, Jiang Rong, was released on bail in June. Together with their child, Shuya, she was closely monitored for 24 hours, with all contacts with the outside world being cut off. His parents are also under surveillance by many state security officers. He was unable to meet with his defense lawyer, Zhang Peihong, who was also repeatedly threatened, and “invited” for tea. The procuratorate forcibly cancelled Zhang Peihong's defense qualification and arranged another two official lawyers for Wang Yi.

Wang Yi wrote in advance the article My Faith Struggle, which he handed to Early Rain Covenant Church to release 48 hours after his arrest. He wrote:

"As a pastor of the Christian Church, with the Bible being the departure point, I have my own understanding and views on social, political, and legal fields, as to what is just order and good governance. At the same time, I am full of disgust and hatred for the evils of the Chinese communist regime's persecution of the church and deprivation of human freedom of belief and conscience. However, all changes in social and political systems are not the mission to which I was called, nor the purpose for which the Gospel is given to God’s people. For all the ugliness of reality, the injustice of politics and the arbitrariness of law show that the cross of Jesus Christ is the only salvation that every Chinese person must have.”

"Those who hold me will eventually be held by angels. My judges will be judged by Christ. With this in mind, the Lord makes me full of sympathy and sorrow for those who attempt to hold and are holding me. May the Lord use me, and give me patience and wisdom, that I may bring the Gospel to them. "

"Separating me from my wife and children, destroying my reputation, destroying my family, these people in power can do all of these things. But no one in the world can make me give up my faith, change my life, and raise me from the dead [Editor’s note: The resurrection from the dead is a common feature in Christianity. Christians believe that on the day of judgment, their bodies will be raised from the dead, and they will live in heaven forever with God. Most also believe that they will be with God immediately after they die, but resurrection still plays a key part in allowing this to happen, as they rely on the resurrection of Christ’s body as the defeat of death. Wang Yi is saying that no one except for God can resurrect his body, and, by extension, that no one can deny him eternal life].”

At 10:51 on the night of Dec. 8, Wang Yi sent an inspirational poem entitled Days in 14 Lines in his Circle of Friends group: "Before bed, pray, Lord, let me remember every day."

Days in 14 Lines

After the Spring Festival, March 14

Comes

The peach trees have just burst into blossoms, and

May 12 follows

Misfortune never comes alone, when June 4 arrives

It is hard to breathe

July 5 is a scorching day

Temperatures across the whole of China soar

A week later will be July 12

People with beards sweat in stress

Finally Dec. 8 comes

But who remembers Karamay

Other days are still in a queue

Waiting to weep, and be chosen by fate

On the night of Dec. 8, 2018.

Did the poet pastor know that the next day, he and his co-workers would add Dec. 9 to these special days, which held the same suffering as other days but carried the sign of grace?

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