Church leaders arrested in China
Elder Li Yingqiang, the leader of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, was visiting a new church that had been built in Dazhou, when police raided the building on the 9th of November.
The church service was abruptly cut short when Elder Li, a few other leaders and members of the congregation were taken into custody. The police released 11 people out of the arrested 13.
Elder Li and Hou Duoshu, the leader of the Good Soil church, remained in prison overnight. Authorities sentenced Li to ten days of detention. He also received a hefty fine. Even though Hou was sentenced to five days’ confinement, it was not enforced because of his poor physical health.
There are about 100 million Christians in China, but only 30 million are aligned with the government-authorized Three-Self Patriotic Movement – this is the state church controlled by the Communist government—the other 70 million pray in unapproved house churches.
The government imposed new restrictions on internet and social media, including the 2018 regulations on religion, which bans anyone under 18 from attending church. Previously, unregistered house churches had been accepted by authorities to some extent, but the new legislation is severely limiting Christian freedom. If church leaders reject government-controlled churches, false allegations are recorded against them, and they are arrested.
Despite all the hostility and oppression, house church leaders are willing to accept high risks. Only a small percentage of house church leaders have access to Bible study materials or have proper theological training.