Dec. 30, 2019, was a day when people who live in the free world were busy planning ahead and getting ready for New Year’s Eve celebrations. But for China’s outspoken Wang Yi, the founding pastor of China’s most famous house church, the Early Rain Covenant Church, there was no such celebration. After being detained by Chinese authorities for more than a year without an actual charge, in a closed-door legal proceeding Wang was sentenced to nine years in prison for trumped up convictions of “inciting subversion of state power” and “illegal business activities.”
Throughout the proceeding, Wang’s lawyer wasn’t allowed to defend him. In addition to jail time, Wang will be stripped of his political rights for four years, and the Chinese government will confiscate about $7,000 worth of his personal assets. According to Bob Fu, president of China Aid, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization advocating for basic rights of Chinese Christians, Wang’s sentence is the harshest of any house church leaders in China.
I had first written about the injustice Wang and his church faced in early December 2019, which marked the one-year anniversary of his detainment. Wang and more than 100 of his church members were arrested during a raid just before Christmas, which the government initiated to “root out” a number of prominent Christians and house churches back in 2018.
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