For background on Orthodox Christianity in China, see here.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.

“Early Rain Church: Family Blocked at Home and Forbidden to Attend ‘Illegal’ Sunday Service,” by Qi Junzao, Bitter Winter, March 3, 2023:

Readers of Bitter Winter and friends of religious liberty are familiar with the saga of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, whose Pastor Wang Yi (not a relative of the chief of Chinese Foreign Affairs with the same name) was sentenced to nine years in jail in 2019.

Officially, Early Rain has been shut down in 2018 but unofficially members have continued to play a cat and mouse game with the authorities and meet for Sunday services outdoor or in private homes.

According to a message sent this week to Bitter Winter and other human rights media, and circulated among house churches, the police is continuously inventing new ways to prevent those gatherings.

Brother Xiao Luobiao, Deputy Deacon of Early Rain, explained himself what happened last Sunday, February 26: “When we were about to go out of the home in the morning, we just opened the door. About six people, two police officers (a man and a woman), two auxiliary police officers, and community and property personnel blocked us at the door and did not allow us to go out. The officers told us: ‘The Sunday meeting of the Early Rain Church is an illegal meeting, you are not allowed to go!’

At the same time, [my wife] Chen Yan’s mobile phone was snatched by a police officer, causing her to lose control of her emotions. Later, I eased the atmosphere and asked the policeman to give me back the mobile phone, and he gave it to me.

The police threatened to summon me to the police station to investigate the situation of last Sunday’s gathering. I said that last time all five of my family went, and if I were allowed to go, the whole family would go with me. Unexpectedly, the police softened up and said that we will meet again another time.

Then I said I was going to buy breakfast, but I was not allowed, so the police arranged for people from the community to buy it for us. We chatted with them until about 9 a.m., and then we had no choice but to attend Sunday worship at home.

At around 12:00 noon, all the officers left, leaving only a smell of cigarettes behind them.”

However, the next day, February 27, when they returned home Brother Liu’s family found the door lock broken so that they could not enter. Earlier in the month, somebody had already blocked the door lock with glue and chewing gum.

This time, they did not manage to open the door and Sister Chen Yan went to the police station, where nobody would intervene. Finally, they called the lock company, which picked the lock. The story, however, did not end there. Once inside the home, they discovered that water and electricity had been cut off. The landlord company would not help. Clearly, all had been orchestrated by the authorities….