Early Rain preacher, family endure persecution, harassment at home

Early Rain Covenant Church in China
Early Rain Covenant Church in China | Facebook/Early Rain Covenant Church

A preacher and his family from Early Rain Covenant Church, a heavily-persecuted house church in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, who continue to endure persecution by communist authorities, are now being harassed in their home, according to a report.

Dai Zhichao, the leader of “Tashui,” a small group of ERCC in Chengdu city, and his family woke up to the sound of someone banging on the door of their house last Sunday, only to find the door graffitied with the message “Pay your debt,” the U.S.-based group China Aid reported.

The keyhole on the door had been filled with glue, the group said.

At 10 a.m., someone cut off their power. Dai called the community management office, which allegedly lied to him, saying there was a circuit problem. The electricity resumed seven hours later.
In the previous week, police had detained Dai and his entire family for more than 10 hours, according to China aid.

Dai relayed his account of the ongoing harassment during a church gathering, saying, “We were scared. We were just able to open the door. When we watched outside through the peephole in the morning, we noticed those people seemed to live next door …”

“Thank you, God. We were really nervous. Now we can better understand the feeling of those who were bullied but unable to appeal for help. Thankfully we have God, or else we would be really angry. Thank you for your prayers and love. It’s back in peace for now. Please pray for God to bring us peace and protection. When they hear us worship God during Sunday services, they get angry and come attack us. Actually, they are not attacking us, but attacking Christ. God, please help us better understand the sweetness of the cross, and that the most powerful force is the Gospel.”

Over two years ago, authorities ordered the 5,000-member house church to be shut down, broke down the doors of church members’ and leaders’ homes, and arrested more than 100 people. Police continue to harass and track ERCC members today, China Aid said in a previous report.

“House churches across China are seeing an increased harassment from church raid, crackdown on their activities, to the detention of their leaders,” Gina Goh, the U.S.-based International Christian Concern’s regional manager for Southeast Asia, said earlier. “Beijing seeks to intimidate the leaders in hopes that the churches will dissolve due to fear. Their plot will not succeed, thanks to the resiliency of the Chinese house church. They survived the Cultural Revolution, and they will survive Xi’s era as well.”

China ranks as the 17th-worst country globally when it comes to Christian persecution on Open Doors USA's 2021 World Watch List.

Open Doors, which covers persecution in over 60 countries, reports that Chinese Christians face increasing pressure from the government. From 2020 to 2021, China jumped six places on the World Watch List. Over the last three years, China has risen 26 spots on the World Watch List rankings amid a "rapidly deteriorating situation for Christians."

In recent years, there has been an increase in raids and harassment of Christians while thousands of churches have been damaged, confiscated or destroyed. Open Doors warns that laws regulating religion passed in 2018 continue to be rolled out in provinces nationwide. 

The country has also been labeled by the U.S. State Department as a “country of particular concern” for engaging in severe violations of religious freedom.

Open Doors estimates that China has more than 97 million Christians, many of whom worship in unregistered or “illegal” underground churches, such as ERCC. 

ICC documented more than 100 incidents of Christian persecution in China between July 2020 and June 2021 as the country’s communist regime seeks to forcefully convert independent religious groups into mechanisms of the Chinese Communist Party.

Earlier this year, authorities in China removed Bible apps and Christian WeChat public accounts as restrictive administrative measures on religious staff went into effect this year.

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