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Early Rain Covenant Church Elder Released by Chinese Govt, Still No Word on Pastor Wang Yi

Elder Li Yingqiang of the Early Rain Covenant Church and his family. (Image credit: Pray for Early Rain Convenant Church/Facebook)
Elder Li Yingqiang of the Early Rain Covenant Church and his family. (Image courtesy: Pray for Early Rain Convenant Church/Facebook)

After serving eight months in prison, the Chinese government has released an elder of the Early Rain Covenant Church, who was reunited with his family.

Li Yingqiang is back at home in China's Hubei province. He was among 100 church members and leaders arrested in coordinated raids last December.

Although he is now reunited with his wife and children, he is out on bail and must report regularly to the local police station.

The Pray for Early Rain Covenant Church Facebook page reported the news of Li's release. 

Other members of the church remain imprisoned, including Pastor Wang Yi.  There has been no word about condition or whereabouts of the pastor or other church members that are still being detained by the Chinese government. 

Media reports cite several church members who were released from prison that said Communist authorities planned to charge him with "inciting to subvert state power."  That charge carries a penalty of 10 years in prison. 

 As CBN News reported, Pastor Wang's home was raided and ransacked by police on Dec. 9.  The raid may have been triggered by a 7,300 words manifesto titled "Meditations on the Religious War," which Pastor Wang wrote and posted on social media. 

In it, he condemns China's Communist Party and urges Christians to perform acts of civil disobedience.

Pastor Wang criticized the government for forcing its citizens to engage in "Caesar worship" by treating President Xi Jinping like a god. He wrote that ideology "is morally incompatible with the Christian faith and all those who uphold freedom of the mind and thought."

Before his arrest last December, Pastor Yi wrote a declaration of disobedience saying, "the goal of disobedience is not to change the world, but to testify about another world."

To read Pastor Yi's declaration, click here.

As CBN News reported in June, Yi's wife Jiang Rong, 46, and their son was released after spending six months in prison. 

China's ruling Communist Party has carried out a widespread crackdown on all religious institutions in recent years, including bulldozing churches and mosques, barring Tibetan children from Buddhist religious studies and incarcerating more than a million members of Islamic ethnic minorities in what are termed "re-education centers." President and party leader Xi Jinping have ordered that all religions must "Sinicize" to ensure they are loyal to the officially atheistic party.

The unregistered Calvinist church started in 2006 and now claims more than 500 members.

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