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Pastor Wang Yi, who was arrested in December, is facing a new charge of ‘illegal business activity.’
The leader of Early Rain Church in Sichuan province in China has been detained since 9th December 2018, when he was taken with his wife Jiang Rong, who has since been released.
He predicted his imprisonment, writing in a letter in September 2018 about his willingness to die for the gospel.
Pastor Wang Yi’s lawyer hasn't been allowed to see him since his detention.
A message issued by the lawyer confirmed that Pastor Wang had been charged with ‘inciting subversion’ and the new charge of ‘illegal business activity.’
He was detained along with over 100 other members of Early Rain Covenant Church, many of whom have since been released on bail but the pastor and several others remain in detention for now more than seven months.
Religious freedom charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide report that those who have been released continue to report their ongoing harassment from police and landlords who are under pressure from authorities.
On a Facebook page following the church's story, a post was written including a prayer: "Lord, this heavy burden has been weighing on us for more than seven months. May you protect and bless the pastor and elders who are still behind bars.
"Continue to guide your servants as they fight the good fight for the sake of the Faith. Thank you, too, for leading a few dozen brothers and sisters to take turns fasting and praying for them these past two months. Listen to our prayers. May they be acceptable to you, and may you answer us."
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW condemns the continued detention of Pastor Wang Yi, who has now spent over seven month deprived of his liberty simply for standing up for his beliefs. The fact that his lawyer has been unable to meet with him is a grave violation of his rights, and we believe the charges against him are completely unfounded. We call on the Chinese authorities to release Pastor Wang and all remaining members of Early Rain Church from detention immediately and without condition, and to cease the harassment of all attendees.”
This development follows a report from China Aid of the suicide of another pastor in China earlier this week. On Wednesday, Reverend Song Yongsheng, a pastor at a state-sanctioned church in Henan province, took his own life after becoming increasingly distressed by the Chinese Communist Party’s policies towards religious groups.
In addition to targeting unregistered churches, authorities across China have applied increasing pressure on registered churches such as that of Reverend Song, forcing them to remove religious symbols and prohibiting them from allowing children to engage in religious activities.
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