Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) in Chengdu, China has lost another preacher to an unwarranted arrest. Preacher Wu Wuqing was taken by Chinese police at 9 a.m. on April 1 without presenting a warrant of arrest or providing any reason for his capture. His most recent arrest is the third time he was detained by the Chinese police just this week.

According to International Christian Concern, the ERCC is a heavily persecuted house church in Chengdu. Wu and his wife were first taken by the Chinese police on March 26. The following day, Wu was detained for the entire night and was released the following day. On March 1, the pastor from the severely persecuted church was once again taken by the police without presenting a warrant of arrest.

Wu is no stranger to the Chinese authorities, as he had been repeatedly detained by police in the recent months. Chinese authorities have also cut off his utilities at home. The pastor from the church in Chengdu had also been threatened by Chinese officials, warning him that if he continued to serve at ERCC, they would pursue a more intensified crackdown on his actions.

The crackdown on several ERCC pastors and preachers began when the organization founder, Pastor Wang Yi was imprisoned in January for "subversion of state power." According to The New York Times, Wang was detained in December with over 100 members of the church when Chinese police cracked down on church organizations that were not registered or approved by the communist state.

His wife, who was also captured, was later released but Pastor Wang remained in detention and was later sentenced. Chinese authorities ordered the seizure of about $7,200 worth of his assets and the removal of his political rights for three years.

Pastor Wang is a former lawyer and blogger who converted to Christianity in 2005 and later began criticizing communist China's leader, Xi Jinping. Under Pastor Wang's leadership, the ERCC that began in 2001 had reached up to 500 members in 2018. This concerned the Chinese government because such unregistered churches across the communist nation were "no longer just small, underground gatherings of believers in people's homes, but are large, sophisticated organizations," NYT reported.

In 2018 right before his arrest, Pastor Wang wrote a letter condemning the Communist Party of China and its campaign to persecute Christians across the country, Asia News reported. The pastor from the heavily persecuted church in Chengdu wrote that he was "filled with anger and disgust at the persecution of the church by this Communist regime, at the wickedness of their depriving people of the freedoms of religion and of conscience."

A statement posted to a Facebook page run by ERCC read, "Pastor Wang Yi was just sentenced to 9 years in prison for proclaiming the gospel. May the Lord use Pastor Wang Yi's imprisonment to draw many to himself and to bring glory to his name."

Steady growth

ERCC is not the only Christian church in China to have grown in recent years. Reports indicate that there has been a steady increase in the number of Chinese people turning to Christ - to the point that the CCP has considered Christianity in the country a "threat."

Open Doors' Director for Strategic Research Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan indicated that the CCP and its leader Xi is "threatened" by the growth of Christianity in China, such that it has launched a steady crackdown on Christians in the country.

"We think the evidence as to why the Chinese Church is so targeted, is that the leaders are scared of the size of the Church, and the growth of the Church," Boyd-Macmillan said. "And if it grows, at the rate that it has done, since 1980 and that's about between seven and 8 percent a year, then you're looking at a group of people that will be 300 million strong, nearly by 2030."

"And, you know, the Chinese leadership, they really do long term planning, I mean, their economic plan goes to 2049, so this bothers them," Dr. Boyd-Macmillan continued, adding "Because I think if the Church continues to grow like that, then they'll have to share power."