Our technology has allowed us to expand our awareness to the entire world, making requests for prayer seemingly boundless. I hesitate to say this is the biggest prayer request of the month, but the persecution of Early Rain Covenant in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in southwest China, is something important to pray and praise the Lord over. I copied their Christmas Eve update below. Here’s a letter from earlier this month for more context on the government’s unlawful routing of their congregation.
“Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” (Matt. 2:13-15)
Like the “White Terror” during the first Christmas, brothers and sisters of Early Rain Covenant Church, as members of the Lord Jesus, are currently walking the path that the Church’s Head once walked. Authorities are continuing to suppress Early Rain Covenant Church through everything from criminal detention, administrative detention, enforced disappearances, stalking, and financial pressure to the seizing of church property.
On Christmas Eve, the 23rd-floor sanctuary of Early Rain Covenant Church was taken over by the Chengdu Qingyang District Shuangyanjing Community Police and converted to a community police office space. Linxishu Church, a church plant of Early Rain Covenant Church, was seized by the Pidu District authorities and community police. The church property at Enyue Church, another church plant of Early Rain, was cleared out by New Tianfu District authorities. The current church spaces were privately purchased or rented. As long as the civil contract has not expired, no one is allowed to alter or cancel it without the permission of both parties. Officials and local governments have violated both the law and morality. They have stolen nearly 1000-square-feet of real estate without paying one penny.
And yet, Lord, we still praise you. Lord’s Day worship at Early Rain Covenant Church was observed in the homes of families and small groups called and set apart by the Lord, as well as other locations. Some brothers and sisters were confined to their own homes. One small-group’s worship was interrupted by police. A total of 20 people (including 8 children) were all taken to the police station. They returned peacefully to their homes the same day. Another small group was forced to change locations. Yet another was spoken to by police after the meeting ended. In these difficult circumstances, the Spirit of the Lord has been feeding, strengthening, and challenging everyone through Chapter 2 of Matthew’s Gospel and through His servants who are in the middle of these trials and tribulations.
Lord, I thank you because we have been praying about a prison ministry for a long time. We have seen your hand. One brother who has not been baptized gave the following testimony after being detained for five days:
[Even though] there were only 11 beds and 31 people living there, everyone there eagerly wanted to hear the gospel. Everyone asked me to give them my phone number. Some of them were drug dealers. They said they would contact me as soon as they got out and that they would take their wives to church. They all called me Professor and loved listening to me talk about the gospel…As long as someone was willing to speak, everyone else loved to listen. When it came time for me to leave, they didn’t want me to leave. They bought a kettle, put hot water inside of it, and wrapped it in a blanket until the evening. When evening came, they said, ‘Professor, you’re leaving and we don’t want you to leave. Let us wash your feet.’ This was such an uncommon occurrence there. Having my feet washed with warm water moved me so much.” When the sisters from the church heard this testimony, they were also deeply moved. They thought of their husbands, who are all good speakers, and realized that there are many people eager to listen to them. They knew that God had clearly sent them to the people in that place. Mrs. Su said, ‘I think we can describe this as hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Each person is longing to hear someone tell them about the gospel, to tell them about the Truth.’ Amen! You have opened the prison doors and allowed us to see your good, acceptable, and perfect will. (Rom. 12:2)
Lord, we confess our weaknesses and inabilities, our little faith, and our nervousness and anxiety while facing persecution. Forgives us in Christ and grant us more of your power, wisdom, and endurance. Let us see the wondrous, steadfast love you have shown to [us] in a besieged city. (Ps. 31:21)
Lord, even though the shepherds have been stricken and the sheep scattered, this Christmas Eve the saints of Early Rain Covenant Church heard the praises of the heavenly hosts who appeared in the sky when the Lord was born. We see the ancient cross. We have been raised from the dead and hidden in Christ. In the midst of this spiritual war, we hear Chinese churches all around the world today singing “God’s Love is in China” and “For the Cause.” Through faith we see from afar the great jubilation of the Lord’s second coming. We long for that day to come quickly! Lord, on Christmas we hear the sound of the prayers of churches everywhere, like the sound of many waters. We hear them worshipping together with all the saints in Heaven and the twenty-four elders and every creature saying loudly together, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13)
Lord, thank you. God, Immanuel, you are with your children today through your Holy Spirit. You are our God, and we are your people. Thank you for sending us to be ambassadors of the gospel for your Kingdom, for giving us the whole armor of God to wage war on this evil day against our enemies—namely, sin, the corrupt world, and demonic forces. Thank you for raising up prayer warriors from all over the world to pray for Early Rain Covenant Church and to pray for the thousands of Chinese churches being persecuted for the sake of the Lord’s name. We see what Elisha saw and cry, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” (2 Kg. 2:12)
Pray for the brothers and sisters who are locked up. Ask that the Lord would protect, strengthen and use them mightily, that they may become unique ambassadors of the Kingdom of God.
Pray for the family members and children of those who are locked up. Ask the Lord to comfort, protect, and provide for them, to be for them a husband and a father.
Pray that God would provide for the brothers and sisters in the midst of their hardships, that they would be led and comforted by the Word of God, that they would have wisdom and creativity in meeting together informally as they are prevented from meeting in the way they used to, and that they would strengthen and support each other.
Pray for the police officers, guards, and grid monitors that the brothers and sisters are encountering. Ask the Lord to awaken their consciences, to bring them out of deception, and to cause them to be drawn to and persuaded by the gospel to which the brothers and sisters are testifying.
Pray for the hearts of the authorities, officials, and executives. Ask Jehovah to manifest his righteousness to them and to forgive their ignorance. Ask God to spare them of his wrath, for in this day and age, they do not know what they are doing. Ask the Lord Christ to give them a spirit of repentance!