In what is believed to be the longest sentence against a house church leader in more than a decade, Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Covenant Church was sentenced to nine years in prison for "inciting to subvert state power" and "illegal business operations." The charges for business operations relate to the printing and distribution of Christian books by the church.
Pastor Wang's trial was secretly held on December 26th and the verdict was announced on December 30th. Along with the lengthy prison sentence, he was also fined over $9,000 CAD and denied all political rights for three years. "This is a pure case of unjust religious persecution against a peaceful preacher of a Chinese reformed church," reports Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid.
As for many of the remaining members of the Early Rain Covenant Church (those who have not been imprisoned), governing authorities recently mandated that these congregants meet with security officials five times a day. Despite the stringent stipulations and heavy oppression, members of the church continue to faithfully meet together, seeking to serve God any way they can. For previous reports outlining the situation of the church, as well as other cases of persecution in China, go to our online country report.
Please prayerfully uphold Pastor Wang, his wife and family as they now must contend with the implications of this verdict. Pray that justice will still prevail and that this sentence will be overturned. Remember the members of the Early Rain Covenant Church as they seek ways to continue reaching out with the Gospel message in their community.