Li spent eight months in prison. The place of detention of the Church leader remains unknown. For Li, “Persecution is a price worth paying for the Lord.”
Chengdu (AsiaNews) – Li Yingqiang, an elder in the Early Rain Covenant Church, was released last Sunday’s afternoon after serving eight months in prison.
Although he is now reunited with his wife and children, he is out on bail and must report regularly to the local police station.
Li was arrested along with a hundred worshipers in a raid by security forces last December.
The pastor of the Church, Rev Wang Yi, was arrested on 9 December along with his wife Jiang Rong. Last June, she was released and was reunited with her children, but her husband’s place of detention remains unknown.
Li Yingqiang was arrested on the morning of 11 December. Before his arrest, he spoke to journalists.
"Even if we are down to our last five, worship and gatherings will still go on because our faith is real," he told them.
"Persecution is a price worth paying for the Lord. We would rather live through it than to hide our faith and we hope more Chinese churches will speak up and stand with us."
The Early Rain Covenant Church is an unofficial house Church, i.e. not recognised by the government.
Unlike other underground Protestant Churches, the Early Rain Covenant Church practises its faith openly, posts sermons and studies online, evangelises in the streets, and has a seminary to train future pastors and a primary school for 40 children.
The community has about 500 members and 300 sympathisers. Pastor Wang Yi is defined by many as "the bravest" religious leader in China. Last year he slammed the new regulations as a means to stifle religious freedom.
Recently, Rev Wang lashed out at the "cult of Caesar" after patriotic associations forced Christians to put a photo of President Xi Jinping in their churches, often on the altar.
Shortly after his arrest, he got a letter he wrote published, in which he says he feels "disgust" for the Party's persecution of religions, stressing his non-violent testimony to transform Chinese society.