Several members of the heavily persecuted Early Rain Covenant Church(ERCC) were taken away from their homes while they were participating in the virtual Easter service on April 12, according to International Christian Concern(ICC).
ICC reported that the 5000-member Sichuan house church, led by pastor Wang Yi has not been able to gather since the government clamped down the church in September 2018 and arrested their pastor and other leaders. And they were gathering for online Worship service on Easter on Zoom when the Public Security Bureau detained six leaders of the church.
In addition to Wang, other key church leaders including Guo Haigang, Wu Wuqing, Jia Xuewei, Zhang Jianqing and Zhang Xudong were also taken away. "One member's home had its electricity cut off, while others received phone calls that police were coming to visit them soon," One member of ERCC told ICC.
"Since 8:30 a.m., some security officials have entered these Christian families' homes and pretended to be chatting with them casually. At 9:30 a.m., the worship began, and they were also invited to participate. Once they realized that the sermon was from ERCC's imprisoned pastor Wang Yi, they immediately shut it down." A supporter of ERCC also shared on Twitter.
Zhang Jiangqing, also echoed and shared that she was wanted by the police at his house, "Don't participate in already banned [religious] activities anymore! Don't listen to Pastor [Wang]'s sermons anymore! If you do this again, we will deal with it seriously and take you away!"
Early Rain Covenant Church was first raided during a Sunday evening service in December 2018 after authorities claimed it violated religious regulations because it was not registered with the government. Wang was detained along with his wife, Jiang Rong, and more than 100 members of his congregation, The Christian Post reported.
The six briefly detained Christians have since been released, and their electricity was restored in the afternoon, ICC noted.
Gina Goh, ICC's Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, "It is such a shame that the Chinese government has not once stopped its persecution of ERCC. Ever since the 1209 crackdown in 2018, local authorities have continued to monitor and harass ERCC members, with the hope that the church will disperse itself. In a time when the Chinese people are suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the heartless regime chose to inflict more trouble on its citizens. The UN should immediately suspend China's appointment to the Human Rights Council for its lack of respect for human rights."
China is ranked on Open Doors USA's World Watch List as one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians. It also has been labeled as a "country of particular concern" for "continuing to engage in particularly severe violations of religious freedom." by the U.S. State Department