Elder of Early Rain Covenant Church arrested on Christmas Eve



Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Elder Li Yingqiang and his family
(Photo: ChinaAid source)


(Deyang, Sichuan Province—December 29, 2021) On Christmas Eve at about 6:30 pm, police officers took Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church’s elder Li Yingqiang for “disturbing social order”. Early Rain scheduled a Christmas Eve online evangelical seminar on Zoom for 7:30 pm. Elder Li Yingqiang was planning to preach in the seminar. The church had to ask another preacher to replace him.

 

On November 25, Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church held a Thanksgiving evangelical seminar on Zoom. Shortly after the seminar began, believers heard police sirens and then elder Li Yingqiang disappeared from the video. Elder Li’s wife Zhang Xinyue told fellow Christians that police officers summoned elder Li on charges of “disturbing social order”. Fortunately, it didn’t last for long. Elder Li returned home before the seminar ended. He told everyone that they asked him some questions in the police station, took notes, and then sent him home.

  

During the massive crackdown against Early Rain Covenant Church in December 2018, elder Li Yingqiang was imprisoned for 8 months. Authorities released him on bail and forced back to move to his hometown. His bail period ended in August 2020. He and his family moved back to Chengdu in September 2020. Very soon, Chengdu police learned of their whereabouts and immediately started to harass his family. National security agents even assembled a temporary room in the hallway of his apartment in order to monitor his family any time. They knocked at his door every Sunday morning to summon him to the police station to prevent him from attending Sunday services. They also threatened his wife and children.

 

Elder Li Yingqiang hosted “Gospel During the Pandemic,” a public, evangelical seminar online while actively serving Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials announced on December 20, 2021 that the “Measures on the Administration of Internet Religious Information Services” will take effect on March 1, 2022. According to the measures, without obtaining the “Internet Religious Information Services Permits”, it’s illegal for any individual or organization to preach online. This will significantly shrink the already very narrow space for preaching the Gospel.

 

The CCP, unsurprisingly, prohibited any celebration of Christmas this year. Governments of Shandong Province, Anhui Province, Guangdong Province, and many others banned any celebration, citing COVID-19 and Christmas being a “foreign holiday.” Bob Fu, president and founder of ChinaAid, responded to the crackdown on Christmas with Radio Free Asia (translated from Chinese):

 

Government control destroys Chinese citizens’ freedom to religion in a "lawful" way. Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of State Security intervene with normal religious events which are held online, which demonstrates that the CCP has escalated its crackdown on freedom of religion.

 

 

Despite constant persecution, elder Li’s family matured immensely since the crackdown in December 2018. When Li was taken away from his home, his 6-year-old son said to him: ”See you tonight, tomorrow, or 1 year later!”

 

Elder Li’s 10-year-old daughter wrote a poem after he was taken away:

 

In the deep dark night

Waiting for the dawn to break

God is always present

No matter day or night

In the deep dark night

Look upon the starry night

Bright start blinks

God is guiding us the way

In the deep dark night

Even among tribulation and despair

God sustains us unfailingly

He brings us comfort and hope

In the light of dawn

Emmanuel




Edler Li's 11-year-old daughter wrote a poem after his arrest
(Photo: ChinaAid source)


Elder Li’s wife Zhang Xinyue wrote on her WeChat Moments:

 

“My daughter is 10 years old. When she was 8 years old, she cried hard when her father was taken away. At the age of 10, she sat down quietly and wrote a poem. Is this part of her growing up? 


I thank you, God, for bringing real peace to my children’s hearts. Do you have peace in your heart tonight? If not, seek it now. God brings us peace, which cannot be taken away by anyone in the world.”    

 

Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church’s Christmas Eve online evangelical seminar happened as scheduled. More than 300 Christians and faith seekers attended the online seminar. At the moment, there is still no news about elder Li’s situation.

 

~ Yu Bing, China Aid Special Reporter





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