Christian Prisoners of Conscience: Pastor Wang Yi
Pray for Pastor Wang Yi
Pastor Wang Yi was arrested in December 2018 along with his wife, Jiang Rong, and about 100 other Chinese Christians from the Early Rain Covenant Church in the city of Chengdu in south-west China. Jiang Rong was released from prison on bail, and under surveillance, on 10 June 2019 after six months in jail, and finally reunited with their young son, Shuya.
The couple were held on charges of "inciting to subvert state power" and the pastor remains in "secret detention". Four other members of the church are also still being detained.
The pastor’s lawyer was denied access to see him at Chengdu Jail, Sichuan province, on 17 July and was told by public prosecutors that Wang Yi is to face a second criminal charge, of running “illegal business operations”. The prosecutors said the pastor had lost a lot of weight “but that his mental state is healthy”.
Almost a month later, on 10 August, it was revealed the Chinese authorities had decided to “disregard” the two lawyers appointed by the pastor to defend him and appoint their own “Christian” lawyers to represent him – a move “strongly opposed” by Early Rain members.
Pastor Wang Yi has released a “Letter from a Chengdu jail”. In the letter he makes a powerful statement of Christian resistance to unjust laws. He writes that he and other Christians do not seek to overthrow the state but they wish to worship freely.
Three hundred members of the Early Rain Covenant Church have been arrested or detained since the wave of persecution against the church began in December 2018. About 100 others were ordered by police to leave Chengdu and return to their hometowns.
On 24 February 2019, police made 44 arrests, which included ten children and a two-month-old baby.
Also on 24 February, Pastor Wang Yi’s mother was savagely beaten by a police officer. Local reports describe how one officer grabbed her hair and kicked her, while another held her down, after she refused to reveal her PIN number to him at an ATM.
Journalist and church deacon Zhang Guoqing was missing for several days in early March, before it was discovered he was being held in police custody for “provoking trouble”. Zhang had published an article on the police assault of Pastor Wang Yi’s mother. He was released on 28 March 2019, pending trial.
“Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family – the authorities are capable of doing all of these things. However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith,” he writes.
Barnabas Fund, an aid agency which supports persecuted Christians has launched a global initiative to pray for Pastor Wang Yi. Please say the following prayer in private and public worship to remember Pastor Wang Yi.
We praise you, heavenly Father, for the faith and boldness of Pastor Wang Yi and his willingness to suffer for the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Please send your Holy Spirit to strengthen him, and other members of his church still in detention. Give them the peace that Your Son promised to His followers, the peace that the world cannot give. Please use Pastor Wang Yi during his time in prison to be a wonderful witness for the Lord Jesus to other prisoners and to the guards. We ask that you will strengthen and heal Pastor Wang Yi’s mother, after her beating by the police in February, and we lift to you Deacon Zhang Guoqing, persecuted for publicising what had happened to Wang Yi’s mother and pray that he will be justly acquitted. We ask, too, that all those still detained will be released in Your perfect timing and we thank you for answered prayer for the release of Pastor Wang Yi's wife, Jiang Rong, and the others who have already been released. We pray also that You, the living God, will touch the hearts of the Chinese authorities, causing them to realise that Christians bring harmony, compassion and love to a society. Lead them to respond positively to Pastor Wang’s letter appealing for freedom of religion in China. We ask this in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.