Editor’s note: Pastor Jin Tianming is the former senior pastor of Shouwang Church, a prominent 1,000 member Beijing house church that came under crackdown from the authorities in early April, 2011 as part of a wide government campaign to try to force house church member into state-run congregations. Since 2009, due to several evictions by the government, the church was forced to hold outdoor services. Pastor Tianming has been under house arrest since 2011, and as of April 27, 2018, stepped down as senior pastor of Shouwang Church to focus on his calling to be involved in missions. This statement of solidarity was written from his house arrest in Beijing in response to the crackdown on Early Rain Covenant Church.
On the night of December 9, I learned that Pastor Wang Yi has been out of contact and over a hundred members of Early Rain Covenant Church, including elders, deacons, ministry staff, and brothers and sisters were taken away by Chengdu police. Many of them are still in custody, and others remain out of contact. Chengdu police continue to suppress and persecute Early Rain Covenant Church; even until today it has not stopped. According to the Early Rain Covenant Church’s Urgent Prayer Request issued on the evening of December 12, pastor Wang Yi has been placed in criminal detention under the charge of “inciting to subvert state power.”
Early Rain Covenant Church released Pastor Wang Yi’s “Declaration of Faithful Disobedience,” which he wrote prior to being arrested and instructed the church to publish it should he been detained for more than 48 hours. As I was reading this declaration of faith, my heart was deeply moved. Honestly, before the Lord, what pastor Wang Yi declared as his stance on the relationship between the church and the state is also where I stand. As for our obedience to God which expresses itself in faithful disobedience, each pastor and church will respond differently according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, particularly in the approach, the extent, and the areas of involvement. Each Christian may have different expressions because of their freedom of conscience. But the one thing to which we must all share and hold fast to is to obey God and witness to Christ.
Pastor Wang Yi is our dear brother, a servant whom God has been using for his special purpose within the Chinese church for the last ten years. During his current criminal detention under the charge of “inciting to subvert state power,” many dear brothers and sisters of Early Rain Covenant Church are being persecuted. As a pastor who has received the same call of the Lord and called to serve in the same land, I declare: What pastor Wang Yi declared as his stance on the relationship between the church and the state is also where I stand!
“On the basis of the teachings of the Bible and the mission of the gospel, I respect the authorities God has established in China. For God deposes kings and raises up kings. This is why I submit to the historical and institutional arrangements of God in China.”
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“Changing social and political institutions is not the mission I have been called to, and it is not the goal for which God has given his people the gospel.”
“At the same time, I believe that this Communist regime’s persecution against the church is a greatly wicked, unlawful action. As a pastor of a Christian church, I must denounce this wickedness openly and severely.”
“But this does not mean that my personal disobedience and the disobedience of the church is in any sense ‘fighting for rights’ or political activism in the form of civil disobedience.”
Let us all raise our hands for pastor Wang Yi, in remembrance of Early Rain Covenant Church.
December 13, 2018, from Beijing
English translation provided by Jason and the China Partnership translation team.