“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
See these very words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:18 come to life in the full translation of the pre-arrest statement made by Chinese Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church here: My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience.
A page dedicated to the embattled church located in Chengdu, China, recently reported that on 09 December 2018, authorities had arrested Yi, his wife, and more than 100 church members and leaders for “inciting to subvert state power.” Since then, authorities have banned and sealed off the Church.
Anticipating arrest, Yi, a vocal critic of government policy restrictions on religious practices in China, gave instructions to publish the statement in case he was detained by authorities for more than 48 hours.
“If I am imprisoned for a long or short period of time, if I can help reduce the authorities’ fear of my faith and of my Savior, I am very joyfully willing to help them in this way. But I know that only when I renounce all the wickedness of this persecution against the church and use peaceful means to disobey, will I truly be able to help the souls of the authorities and law enforcement. I hope God uses me, by means of first losing my personal freedom, to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ,” Yi stated in his letter.
While explaining his defiance to authorities, Yi likewise expressed his compassion towards his captors and persecutors, something akin to Jesus taking pity to His crucifiers when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34)”; and Stephen, who prayed in tears, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them (Acts 7:60)” for the people stoning him all the way to his death.
Yi writes: “Those who lock me up will one day be locked up by angels. Those who interrogate me will finally be questioned and judged by Christ. When I think of this, the Lord fills me with a natural compassion and grief toward those who are attempting to and actively imprisoning me. Pray that the Lord would use me, that he would grant me patience and wisdom, that I might take the gospel to them.
“Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family – the authorities are capable of doing all of these things. However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith; no one can make me change my life; and no one can raise me from the dead.
“And so, respectable officers, stop committing evil. This is not for my benefit but rather for yours and your children’s. I plead earnestly with you to stay your hands, for why should you be willing to pay the price of eternal damnation in hell for the sake of a lowly sinner such as I?
“Jesus is the Christ, son of the eternal, living God. He died for sinners and rose to life for us. He is my king and the king of the whole earth yesterday, today, and forever. I am his servant, and I am imprisoned because of this. I will resist in meekness those who resist God, and I will joyfully violate all laws that violate God’s laws.”
Religious persecution is not new in China. It has, for a long time, been a byproduct of the Communist regime, which roots from Mao Zedong and his devotion to teachings of Karl Marx, who spoke of religion as nothing but “opium” to people.
Still, amid such pressures, “religion has not only survived in modern China, it’s thriving,” reports USA Today.
Amid rampant arrests and crackdowns against believers, Yi expresses his hope for his church and Chengdu, where Early Rain Covenant Church has been planted: “May God use us to take over this city one street at a time, one police station at a time, until the Gospel fills this city.”
Truly a modern-day Paul, Yi evokes the faith and confidence of the persecuted apostle, who urged the early Christians at Rome:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
Yi, Wang. My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience