Early Rain Covenant in Chengdu, China has had its fair share of raids over the past year as have other house churches in the area as the Chinese Communist Party increases its tight grip over the manner in which its citizens may practice their faith.
The CCP boasts religious freedom to its liberal western counterparts, yet this is exercised only under specific guidelines issued by the party as to how churches and other religious groups may gather, teach, and worship.
The Early Rain Covenant Church is dissident in this regard and has been the target of official scrutiny over its gatherings and operations.
Authorities have raided both live Zoom services and homeschools hosted by members of the church, and pastors and members are sometimes held in temporary custody or forced to serve administrative detention in jail.
This month, authorities arrested a shocking 28 people, including 10 children, after raiding a small group of church members after they say they received a call about illegal gathering, International Christian Concern reports.
According to a Facebook post issued by the ERCC’s Facebook page, Preacher Dai Zhichao led a Sunday service at a member’s home in the morning on Sunday, August 22 when police knocked on the door.
Police said they’d had a report of an illegal gathering and demanded personal information from those within. Preacher Dai says he asked to see the officers’ own credentials but he was ignored, forcibly entering the dwelling and injuring Dai and other men who intervened in the process.
Police registered everyone’s information and Dai’s cell phone was confiscated. The authorities then went outside and the church members shared a meal as they always do.
However, officers from the Chenghua District Mengzhuiwang arrived in the early afternoon and detained nearly everyone at the gathering; 18 adults and 10 children in total, including an infant younger than 1 year, ICC noted.
According to one member of the church who spoke with ICC, many people were beaten by police while in custody, who also threatened to hit the children in the head if they were “rowdy.”
Pastor Dai, along with the brother at whose house the gathering was held, He Shan, were ultimately placed in administrative detention for 14 days. Brother He was fined 1,000 RMB ($154). The ERCC has been routinely harassed by authorities since a December 2018 raid which resulted in Dai’s three-month detainment for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
ICC lists the names of those taken by police as: “Xiao Donghong, Jin Wen, Liu Xingfeng, Huang Wei, Zhang Haiyan, Xuan Bin, He Shan, Hao Guiru, Dai Zhi Chao and his wife Lu Lingzhi, Sang Ensui and his wife Lan Fali, Shu Qiong and her husband Wang Song, Tang Peng and his wife Huang Yizhen, and Niu Chuang and his wife He Ye.”
We lift these names up to the Lord; please remember to keep them and Pastor Dai in your prayers.
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