Attracted to the Church’s Faithful Witness in the Face of Persecution

30 May 2024

Hao Guiru’s fiancée is a Christian from Guangdong province in China. She was so attracted to Hao Guiru’s devotion to his Christian faith that she moved 1,500 kilometres to Chengdu in Sichuan Province to be with him.

Hao Guiru is a member of Early Rain Covenant Church, a group legally banned by the Chinese government and the constant target of some of the most severe persecution in the world since its pastor, Wang Yi, was arrested along with more than 100 church members on 9 December 2018.

So, it was not surprising for Hao Guiru’s fiancée to be waiting for him outside a police station on a recent Sunday morning.

One day before, on Saturday 28 October 2023 at 10am, more than thirty Early Rain Covenant Church believers held a graduation ceremony for the church’s ‘servant college’ in a hotel conference room. Suddenly, over twenty national security agents, police, staff of the government Religious Affairs Bureau, and community workers broke into the room. They interrupted the ceremony and claimed the gathering was illegal. Everyone attending was required to register their personal information.

The police transported nine of the Early Rain Covenant Church leaders—Elder Li Yingqiang, preacher Ding Shuqi, deacon Jia Xuewei, and six other co-workers, including Hao Guiru—to area police stations. At around 2am, police came out and told the family members and friends that Ding Shuqi, Jia Xuewei, and Hao Guiru would not be released that night.

In the morning, Hao Guiru’s fiancée returned to the police station to wait for Hao’s release. At around 10am, the three Early Rain Covenant Church leaders were released. Hao Guiru met his fiancée outside of the police station, and they hugged each other and burst into tears as onlookers greeted them with applause.

The couple and the other released leaders did what they always do on Sunday mornings: They went to church. All nine of the Early Rain Covenant Church believers who had been arrested shared their difficult experiences in the police station with the Early Rain Covenant Church congregation, but they also shared how they witnessed God’s grace. Deacon Jia Xuewei had been taken into the police station bathroom and violently assaulted by an officer there. The officer kept beating Deacon Jia up until other police eventually stopped him. Preacher Ding Shuqi was also dragged and beaten up when police took him away.

Below is a prayer that was shared by the church during the latest encounter with authorities:

“The Lord’s love is in China, the Lord’s love is in Chengdu, the Lord’s love is in the fall rain, and the Lord’s love is among us. During these five years of great persecution, although the synagogue was blocked and the pastor was imprisoned, brothers and sisters were fruitful in patience and gladly equipped themselves to serve the church. Pray that the Lord would watch over each of the brothers and sisters who were taken to the police station, and give them courageous hearts, which You have given them for their graduation, to see the Eternal Saviour in the midst of persecution and fire. Pray also for mercy on our nation and government officials, who continue to persecute the Lord Christ and His Church, not realising that this is the only way of life that can save them from death.”

To this day, the persecution has not ceased against Early Rain, but neither has the church’s public worship. The church members continue to evangelise and host worker training, leading to events like the servant college graduation that was recently disrupted. Many other Christians, like Hao Guiru’s now-fiancée, have even been attracted to the church’s faithful witness in the face of persecution and have moved to Chengdu to join them.

Hao Guiru’s fiancée appears to have found exactly what she was looking for; a man and a church prepared to pay the price for their devotion to Jesus.

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