A member of Early Rain Covenant Church in China has been released after serving eight months in prison, but the location of the church’s pastor remains unknown.
A Facebook group that provides updates about the church reports that Li Yingqiang, who was among over 160 Early Rain members arrested during communist government raids on the unrecognized house church last year, was let out on bail Sunday.
“Yesterday, elder Li Yingqiang was released from jail after eight months in criminal detention,” the post reads. “He was sent back to his hometown, where he was reunited with his wife and children.”
Li was arrested on Dec. 11, 2018, just days after the arrest of Pastor Wang Yi and his wife, Jiang Rong.
The government tried to shut down the church as part of a crackdown on worship not sanctioned by the state as stricter regulations on religious affairs were passed in early 2018.
According to BBC, Early Rain members worship openly and are very public with their faith, something that has drawn the ire of a Chinese government that has consistently cracked down on religious freedom for many faiths. Additionally, Pastor Wang has been very critical of the control exerted by the state over religion in public life.
Before his arrest last December, Li told the South China Morning Post that the church’s worship gatherings will continue to go on no matter how many people are arrested.
“Even if we are down to our last five, worship and gatherings will still go on because our faith is real,” Li was quoted as saying last December. “Persecution is a price worth paying for the Lord. We would rather live through it than to hide our faith and we hope more Chinese churches will speak up and stand with us.”
Li also told the press that the crackdown the church faced in December was unprecedented and a sign that the communist authorities wanted to close down Early Rain “for good.”
“The scale was unprecedented,” Li said at the time.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith