Fifteen days before Christmas, one of China’s largest house churches was raided by Chinese police on Dec. 10. The raid has continued over the last few days, resulting in arrests of more than 100 Christians, including church leader Wang Yi. He is one of China’s most well-known pastors.
The Early Rain Covenant Church is an unregistered house church in Chengdu, the capital city of China’s western Sichuan province. Reportedly, church members were taken from their homes and the streets. The South China Morning Post also reported that church members said they were abused while in police custody.
The church’s Facebook page is filled with detailed accounts of what happened and is happening, as well as powerful prayers from church members. A couple entries report:
“The big arrest of the church on December 9th (main day) is still going on …they use various means to bring their brothers and sisters away, even smash doors, use searchlights, threats, etc. There are members who have been taken or lost. Some … are under control in the church, and there are many more controlled at home … There are now more than 100 brothers and sisters who have been taken away, and many children are forced to separate from their parents and take care of other members.
“After darkness is light. Lord, please open our eyes and let us see the sky open and the people sit on the right side of the father. Ask the Lord to give the angel of the angels to guard the people of the people, and let us take the heart of suffering as a weapon to greet a great revival of the Spirit.”
The prominent house church has about 500 followers, but its weekly gatherings spread across more than a dozen meeting points around Chengdu, drawing more than 800 congregants each week, according to church leaders. It also has about 100 seminary students and a primary school catering to about 40 children.
While most of China’s Protestant house churches operate underground, the Early Rain congregation openly practices their faith, posting sermons online and evangelizing on the streets.