Over the past week, China Partnership has been following the events taking place in Chengdu as Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church and his congregation have been persecuted. As the mass detention of church leaders and congregants, the separation of their families, and the destruction of both church and personal property has unfolded, we have helped to translate and publish multiple documents posted online by Early Rain. Similar to another article by Wang Yi we recently published, this article was originally posted on Wang Yi’s personal blog in October 2018 and shared elsewhere online. It is important for understanding the events of the weekend. Please earnestly pray for your brothers and sisters in Chengdu, especially those who have not yet been located.
Letter for All Christian Churches to Pray for Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, by Western China Presbytery
LIVE POST – Early Rain Covenant Church Urgent Prayer Updates, by Early Rain Covenant Church
China Partnership’s Early Rain Prayer Guide, by Ryan Zhang
My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience, by Wang Yi
How the Church Should Face Persecution, by Li Yingqiang
The Church-State Conflict: 20 Ways Persecution Is God’s Way to Shepherd Us, by Wang Yi
A Statement from CP on Requests for Permission to Repost Early Rain Material, by Hannah Nation
I prayed before Christ and after careful consideration, I have determined to resist by peaceful means when the government oversteps the boundary of the secular power God has given – attacking and usurping the spiritual affairs that belong to God and his church.
Below are the details of my plan. As a house church pastor and Presbyterian minister, all of these are based on my conservative evangelical position and Calvinist theology. This does not mean that every faithful, Reformed pastor or believer must do so in like manner. Due to each of our unique contexts and responsibilities, God will grant his faithful children particular duties and practices in this spiritual battle. This does not mean that my confidence has been strengthened to the point where I can fully adhere to these positions and practices in the face of threats, false charges and violence.
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I pray that the death of Christ will always be on me so that the power of Christ’s resurrection will cover me at all times. I know fully and acknowledge that I am an unworthy sinner, but I hope that Christ’s sovereignty and grace will not forsake me in persecution. Let the Lord’s Spirit always accompany me, so that even in forced isolation I can hold onto these positions with great perseverance and hope until I see the glory of the Lord or return to the pulpit by the Lord’s victory.
My positions and resolutions have been recognized by my fellow ministry partners—the elders of the Early Rain Covenant Church. This could also be provided as a case for reference and adoption for the members of the body who share my positions and responsibilities.
1. Do not stop gathering together
Under no circumstances will we stop or give up on gathering publicly, especially the corporate worship of believers on Sunday. God’s sovereignty is higher than any secular authority and the church’s mission and the Bible’s teaching on not neglecting to gather together is higher than any secular law. Regardless of whether the Religious Affairs Bureau and the police take administrative and forceful measures toward Sunday worship, whether or not their enforcement follows due process, I will resist by peaceful means. I will not cooperate with the police banning, shutting down, dissolving, or sealing up the church and its gathering. I will not stop convening, hosting and participating in the church’s public worship, until the police seizes my personal freedom by force.
2. No cooperation
Even if the police resorts to violence, I will continue to resist in a peaceful manner. I will not use the slightest power God has given me to cooperate with the police’s attack on the church and worship.On days other than Sundays, when the police administer its duties with due process, I will physically submit and cooperate, in honor of their God-given authority. When the police do not follow due process and illegally enforce the law, I will still resist physically in a non-violent manner until the police seize my personal freedom by force. I will not use the slightest strength God has given me to cooperate with the police in their illegal behavior.
I will not accept or obey the government agency’s decision to ban, seal up, and dissolve the church and its gatherings; I will not obey any of the police’s command when it comes to persecuting and banning the church, as God has not granted the government authority to do so. In places where the church or family retains their property rights, I will tear off the government’s seals and break its chains; unless the police seize my personal freedom by force, I will not stop calling for, hosting and participating in the church’s corporate worship by peaceful means.
4. Not signing
I will not sign any document of administrative decision sent by the Religious Affairs Bureau, nor will I sign any documents by any other government agencies partnering to persecute the church. Similarly, I will not sign any police transcripts or any other document when I am interrogated on matters related to faith and church.
5. No confession
With the exception of sharing the gospel, I will not accept or answer any question related to the church and faith from the administrative investigation by theReligious Affairs Bureau.
Except for providing my personal information and sharing the gospel, I will not answer any questions the police ask or interrogate me with regarding my faith and the church, and I will not provide any documentary evidence that the administration and law enforcement could use to convict my faith and the church, unless the police torture me brutally to the point of crushing my health and spirit.
6. Request to read the Bible
From the day the coercive measures are taken, I will request the freedom to obtain and read the Bible during my break from inquiry and interrogation. If I cannot acquire or am forbidden to read the Bible, I will disobey in a peaceful manner and will not cooperate with the police’s inquiry and questioning, either until I acquire the Bible or until the police torture me brutally to the point of crushing my health and spirit.
7. Not plead guilty
Whether in interrogation, questioning or court trial, I will not admit to any crimes imposed against me on matters of faith and church, whether it is the accusation of inciting subversion of state power, creating disturbance, illegal business operations, disturbing social order, sabotaging law enforcement by cult organizations – these common charges to persecute and frame the church, or any other charges. I will not plead guilty, will not repent, and will not seek or agree to any form of release based on my admission of guilt, such as immunity from prosecution, probation, service of sentences outside prison, release on parole, release on bail, or residential surveillance at a designated location. If I am under criminal detention, either I will be sentenced and serve out my prison term or I will be acquitted, with no room for compromise or negotiation for a third option, unless the police torture me brutally to the point of crushing my health and spirit.
8. Disobeying ideological reform
The so-called reform through labor is a form of ideological reform for prisoners through forced labor and political education that was adopted in communist countries, such as the Soviet Union, North Korea, and China. As a Christian, I will physically obey any unjust sentences and submit to the prison’s discipline. But even though I serve this term, I will not be reformed ideologically. I will neither plead guilty nor repent; my conscience forbids me from submitting to any reform measures based on my admission of guilt, such as compulsory political education or watching related TV programs, compulsory participation in flag ceremony, compulsory writing of ideological report, and compulsory singing of the red songs or shouting slogans. I will disobey such reform measures by peaceful means and will be ready to bear any cost for my response, unless the prison authority tortures me brutally to the point of crushing my health and spirit.
9. Refusal to pay penalties or fines
Whether I am under administrative penalty or by judicial measures, I will not, for the sake of faith and the church, pay one penny of penalty, fine or bail, as the government has no authority to impose a fine on the church for the sake of faith.
10. Refusal to accept the additional penalty of deprivation of political rights
The so-called political rights mainly consist of voting rights, the right to be elected, and the right to hold public office. As a Chinese citizen, I have no such false rights; as a servant of God, neither do I care about my ownership of them. However, the so-called political rights also include freedom of speech, assembly and publishing which involves faith, conscience and the church, just as the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 20 Section 2 says, “God alone is Lord of the conscience.” The government has no right to deprive the God-given human conscience and freedom to express faith; therefore, I will not accept additional penalty of the so-called deprivation of political rights; as soon as my personal freedom is restored, I will do my utmost to preach the gospel, shepherd or plant churches, write and publish articles, and live out the Great Commission given by the Lord Jesus Christ, until I lose my freedom again.
11. Persist in sharing the gospel
Whether in the police station, detention center, prison, or any other detention facility, I will share the gospel once I am in contact with any person. Secular government and laws have no right to deprive anyone of the opportunity to listen to the gospel, nor do they have the right to deprive a pastor the freedom to preach the gospel to others. Only the gospel of Christ can truly reform a sinner. I will do my utmost in my detention to practice the gospel commission, unless the police torture me brutally to the point of crushing my health and spirit.
12. Refusal to accept government designated defense lawyer
Only the lawyer appointed by me or my wife can represent me in my administrative or criminal case. Under no circumstances, will I accept a defense lawyer designated by the government.
13. Refusal to appear on TV or contact official media
As long as my personal freedom is not restored and I have not met my family and my brothers and sisters, I will not accept interviews and filming arranged by the prison authorities, official media, or any other domestic media; I will not record any video either under police control or anywhere outside the interrogation room to avoid being distorted and edited as my guilty plea on TV, unless the police torture me brutally to the point of crushing my health and spirit.
14. Demand of public trial
If I am prosecuted for matters of faith and the church, I will demand the court for a public trial of my case. If the court does not follow due process and does not hold a public hearing, and does not allow my wife, my family, brothers and sisters, friends, and the media to be present and observe the trial, I will physically disobey such a court hearing. Because a court that has a secret trial is no longer one that the Bible commands me to obey. I will refuse to appear in court and to submit to any command of the judge; I will respond with no speech and no defense to all unlawful trials of the church and faith except for when I share the gospel.
May the Lord bless me with so much reverent fear for him to the point where I am not afraid of any power that does not fear him.
May the Lord grant me peaceful resistance, positive perseverance and joyful disobedience in all matters of conscience, faith and the church, and in everything that relates to the flesh, and damage to external rights, may he grant me the power of patience and silence.
May the Lord remove the potential in this process to lash out in hate and resentment. May he have mercy on me and support me in my weakness when I am in isolation.
May the Lord help me so that from the day of my detention I will pray every day for all those in power related to my case, as well as officials in the police force, national security, the prosecutor’s office, the court and other government agencies.
May the Lord choose among them repentant and believing children and have mercy on their lowly souls.
May the Lord lead at least one of them to faith through this process, and give my heart great joy and comfort.
I also ask the Lord Jesus to remove the burden and concerns for my wife, family, the church, and everything else during my detention, so that I will entrust everything to the Lord, be faithful only to the Lord, and focus on practicing these fourteen resolutions as my longings for and service to my family, as shepherding and teaching my congregation, and as fulfilling my responsibility to the kingdom of God.
English translation provided by Jason and the China Partnership translation team.