The Donghu Church in Xining has stood firm in the face of opposition for years. Even though it was officially approved by the Chinese authorities in 2003, this church of more than 300 members has faced problems for years.
In December 2017, the fire department closed the building, citing an unspecified "hidden danger." Following this, the congregation purchased a new building but it was not approved. So the members began meeting in the Donghu Hotel instead. This was also opposed and, in December 2019, the fire department sealed the door. This did not stop the members, who climbed through a window of the church building to resume meeting together. On Christmas Day, however, the electrical power was cut off in the middle of the service and authorities told them the building would be demolished. For more details, see this report.
On Easter Sunday morning, officials carried through on their threats. The building was completely torn down by construction crews. In response, some of these Christians encouraged one another by saying that even though the government could destroy the building, it could never destroy the faith within their hearts.
Easter Sunday was a time of trouble for another church. For the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, worship has taken on many forms since being raided by governing officials in December 2018. As a result of the coordinated attacks, dozens of congregants were arrested and several are now serving prison sentences -- including Pastor Wang Yi, who was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment.
The church members have sought other ways to meet for worship, including outdoor services and online options. On Easter Sunday, however, a group of believers were meeting online through Zoom when some of the participants suddenly heard nothing, followed by sounds of a disagreement. At least eight people were taken into custody from various homes as a result of a coordinated raid. While most were released after giving statements, others remain under investigation.
For more details on the challenges being experienced by the Donghu Church, the Early Rain Church and others in China, go to our country report.
As the members of these affected churches face uncertain times in the days to come, please pray that they will experience the blessed assurance and peace that comes with knowing their lives are in the hands of the "Living God." While worshipping freely in the privacy of our own homes during this time of social isolation, may we become even more mindful of those who have been trying to do likewise for so much longer. May these Chinese believers also find safe and secure ways of meeting together for needed worship and fellowship. Pray that the opposing Chinese officials will personally realize the truth of the Gospel they are opposing so that they too will come to faith in Christ and share the "Good News" of His salvation.