China Partnership’s Early Rain Prayer Guide

China Partnership offers this guide as a supplement to understand the prayer requests released by Early Rain Covenant Church and the Western China Presbytery. We hope this additional information will help those unfamiliar with China, Early Rain, Wang Yi, and the other people and institutions mentioned by Early Rain.

Additional materials:

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
My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience, by Wang Yi
Wang Yi’s 14 Decisions: In the Face of Persecution, What Will I Do?, 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

  

Chengdu


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Chengdu serves as the capital of Sichuan province in the center of People’s Republic of China. It is one of the three most populous cities in Western China. As of 2014, the administrative area houses 14.5 million inhabitants, with an urban population of over 10 million. It is the 5th-most populous city in China according to the 2010 census. It is now one of the most important economic, financial, commercial, cultural, transportation, and communication centers in Western China. Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is one of the 30 busiest airports in the world, and Chengdu Railway Station is one of the six biggest in China. Chengdu also hosts many international companies and more than 12 consulates. More than 260 Fortune 500 companies have established branches in Chengdu. 

Early Rain Covenant Church

Early Rain first began meeting as several small groups in 2006 and became an independent church in 2008 with 63 members. In July 2009, the church elected and installed Pastor Wang Yi as its pastor. The church now consists of 500 members and regular attendees from a wide range of people: blue and white collar workers, children, college students, young professionals, and young families. Attendees and members range from infants to 80-year-old seniors. The church has been meeting in an office building at the heart of Chengdu. Since its founding, Early Rain has planted six other churches in Chengdu and a nearby city.  

Pastor Wang Yi and wife Jiang Rong

Pastor Wang Yi is a former attorney who represented persecuted churches in China, advocating for religious freedom and freedom of conscience. He started a Bible study in his home in 2004, which later became the Early Rain Fellowship. He was baptized in 2005 and became the leader of the fellowship.  He was part of a delegation that represented the persecuted church to meet with President George W. Bush in the White House in 2006. He received a call into full-time ministry in 2008, and was elected and installed as the pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church in July 2009. He was the leading author of the 95 Theses: The Reaffirmation of Our Stance on the House Churchwhich Early Rain published in 2015. On December 10, 2018, Pastor Wang Yi and his wife were detained by the police. On December 12, Early Rain published his Declaration of Faithful Disobedience, which he had prepared in October 2018 for publication if he were detained for more than 48 hours.  

Wang Yi and Jiang Rong have two children, aged 17 and 12. Many of those who have been detained, particularly church leaders, have young children they have been separated from. In situations where both parents have been detained, families from the church are providing care for the children left behind.

Elders

Early Rain Covenant Church follows the Presbyterian Church tradition and is governed by a group of elders. The church elects and ordains both teaching and ruling elders to provide spiritual guidance and make major decisions for the church. As of December 13, all of the Early Rain elders have been detained by the police. Two of them have since then been released and are under house-arrest. Elder Li Yingqiang was detained at 2 am on December 11 while he was evading the police. Before he was detained, he published this handwritten letter to the church to encourage the church to hold firm to their faith and continue public worship.  

Deacons

Deacons in the Presbyterian Church tradition are elected and ordained by the church to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress. They also care for the physical needs of the church. Several of Early Rain’s deacons and assistant deacons have been detained. Some were detained in the process of checking on other church members.

Members and Regular Attendees at Early Rain

There are over 500 members and regular attendees at Early Rain Covenant Church, over 100 of them have been detained by the police since Sunday, December 9. Many children have been separated from their parents and are currently under the care of other church members. While some members have been released, over 80 members are still missing. Different levels and departments of the state have been enlisted in this massive raid. Depending on who has been tasked to make the arrest, members are treated differently, some handled very mildly while others have been brutally treated. Police continue to search and pressure believers, making them sign agreements to stop attending church. Some Sichuan Police even traveled to the northeast part of China to track down one of the members. Harassments, threats, and arrests are continuing to be made against brothers and sisters.

Seminary

The seminary was founded in 2012 to train lay leaders and pastoral candidates for service in Chinese house churches. It meets in the same building with Early Rain Covenant Church, and it offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The school has grown from 40 students to almost 180, most of them are already serving at various churches throughout the nation. Most of the seminary students have been either detained or monitored at home, while two of the dorms have been raided. Some students have been deported to their hometowns and were contacted by the local police immediately upon arrival at home.

Liberal Art College

Recognizing the need to provide alternative higher education to students who did not enter the mainstream education system, and to prepare candidates for graduate studies in the seminary, the college was founded in 2012 to offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees to students from all over China. These degrees include general bachelor degrees in liberal arts education as well as master’s in Christian education. At 9 pm on December 10, police asked firefighters to break down the doors of a female dormitory and twelve female students were arrested. As of now, nearly all the dormitories of the college and seminary have been searched and sealed, and many students have been detained or sent home.

K-12 School

A K-12 school founded by Early Rain Covenant Church in 2013 to offer Christian families in Chengdu an alternative education system outside of the state’s education model. It is the first K-12 school in China that advocates for a classical education. Once a student has left the mainstream education system, he or she cannot attend universities in China. Chengdu is the only Chinese city that offers a complete Christian education system from kindergarten to graduate degrees, but all of this is considered illegal because it is a violation of the state’s compulsory education laws to remove a student from the mainstream education system. Some church members have been pressured by the education department to send their kids to state schools or risk being detained. 

WeChat

A multi-purpose messaging, social media, and online payment app, WeChat claims over 1 billion active users in China and abroad. Due to its popularity, it has also been closely monitored and censored by the Chinese government. Starting on December 9, Early Rain’s WeChat page and chat groups have been blocked and shutdown, along with the church’s other social media and email accounts. 

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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Nanjing: A Welcoming City of Newcomers
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Nanjing: A Relational Gospel
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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Stories from Shenyang

About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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Stories from Xiamen

About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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Stories from Nanjing

About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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Stories from Changchun

About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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Stories from Chengdu

About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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