但政府并未回应我们的整改和请求，也未再次检查消防情况。 6月14日的主日崇拜，弟兄姊妹受到政府人员强行拦阻，禁止上楼出席崇拜。我们认为这是严重滥用职权的非法行政行为，于是报警，通知了110。并照着主的教导，我们当在行为上顺服，因此退出了办公室，前往南河边空地，举行露天的主日崇拜。 6月19日，王怡前往街道办，递交了我们消防整改的说明，和对政府非法行政行为的举报及法律意见。表达了我们一直保持克制和沉默的立场和原因，希望得到政府的良好回应和对话。
Prayer Request from early rain reformed church to Churches
in Chengdu and Overseas Chinese Churches
Wang Yi, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to preach the Word through the Lord’s early rain reformed church in Chengdu, on behalf of all co-workers and 61 church members committed to the church is writing to all house churches in Chengdu and all elders, pastors, and saints: Peace be to you all and we ask you to pray and watch out for us for the Administrative Penalty Decision of “Banning unregistered Illegal Organization” by the local Civil Affair Authority to us, as we are one with a heart quavering for the Lord.
We uphold the stance of house church and Reformation Faith, keeping administrative model of Presbyterian churches, following the vision of focusing local church building and gradually pushing forward the go-public and legalized existence of house churches. In August 2008, the church, under the name of a co-worker, Sister Huang Weicai, rented several office rooms on the 6th floor of No.1 Wenmiaoxijie Street in Chengdu as non-business site to be the place where early rain reformed church has congregations and services. Currently, there are 100-120 believers and truth seekers attending the Lord-Day worshipping services.
Before and after 4th June, 2009, our assembly was interfered by the government in the name of fire preventing intervention. We submitted and canceled prayer meetings before and after 4th of June and some other week-days meetings.
In the morning of 7th June, the Lord-Day worshiping was interrupted by law enforcers of Street Affair Office. We requested them to present written administrative warrant. Consequently, the Street Affair Office issued a notice to “early rain reformed church”, demanding “Fire Prevention Improvements and Rectifications” under the name of “Comprehensive Rectification Office”. We showed gratitude for this as it did remind us of fire potentials. On 12th, June, Wang Yi and Huang Weicai went to the Comprehensive Rectification Office of Street Affair Office, explaining the details of our improvements and rectifications concerning fire prevention and asking the Comprehensive Rectification Office to inspect again, and arrange fire drills for us in light of improved fire awareness and coping ability.
But the government did not respond to our rectifications and requests. Neither did they inspect the fire prevention condition.
On 14th June, the worshiping was broken up by force by the government personnel. Brothers and sisters were prohibited physically to go upstairs to attend the worshipping service. We consider this illegal administrative action as serious breach of privilege and we called police. As taught by the Lord to be submissive in action, we withdrew from our office to go to an open ground near the river to have the Lord-Day worship.
On 19th, June, Wang Yi went to the Street Affairs Office and submitted the explanations of our fire prevention rectifications and he also reported the illegal administrative actions of the government and his legal opinions. We expressed our stance and the reason of our refraining and silence, in hope of decent response and dialogue from the government.
On 21st of June, the Lord-day worship was interrupted again. Brothers and sisters were forcedly blocked by government-employed personnel who refused to show any papers or cards of identity. We called 110 for police twice. The police was unable to intervene and we kept patient and left the place. We relocated to a nearby tea house. After that, the Street Affair Office and Police came. They threatened the tea house owner and we were force to go in the middle of the worship again. We continued the worship to the riverside to finish the service under the sky.
In the afternoon of 21st of June, we were supposed to have the first church member congregation that we had planned for almost one year. Before that, 61 confessing and committed believers had become our church members. The election team, consisting of representatives of preparative co-workers and believers, had nominated three candidates of elders and four candidates of deacons, whom would be voted into post by the whole congregation and in this way the elders and deacons, elected by the Lord, would be chosen and established. We also invited some co-workers from other house churches in Chengdu to participate, to witness and to bless us.
At the noon of 21st of June, the government-employed personnel continued blocking our entry into meeting place. We relocated to a conference room in a hotel to have the church member congregation. We had hardly finished our annual report on church building and finance accounting when more than ten law enforcer entered the site and stopped the congregation. Huang Wei, one law enforcer from the Civil Affairs Office of Chengdu Qingyang District, announced the to “Autumn Blessings Church”. They banned us as “unregistered social group” and confiscated our illegal properties according to the article 35 of , issued by the State Council of the People's Republic of China.
We planned to move to the riverside to finish the vote. But there were more than one hundred riot policemen and non-uniform law enforcers in and out of the hotel. We decide to dismiss ourselves, postponing the voting to prevent collision.
In the evening of that night, the preparatory elders and deacons convened for guidance of God in prayers and communications. We were especially thankful for the following points:
1. As a church in the Lord Jesus Christ, our name: ”Autumn Blessings” for the first time appeared on a legal paper of the government. God’s wisdom is beyond our understanding and God’s humor is our help in difficulties. After we decide to sue, “Autumn Blessing” will become the lawful plaintiff. God has used the government to help us. In the future, whenever we confront the government, we will be able to appear not as individual workers, but as a legally banned house church. We thank God for this triumphant sign.
2. After what we have experienced in the past two years, we have seen a major shift of the law enforcing entities deployed to suppress house churches. At first they were gun-equipped policemen, and later the religious bureau without guns, and now it is the civil affairs bureau that ostensibly not related to religious affairs. As to the legal basis, we also experienced the process from , to , then to . It shows that the government is trying all possible lawful measures to deal with house churches. Still, the tendency is de-political and de-religious. We thank God for that.
3. In all these suppressions and setbacks, the peace in the Lord Christ never left us. After two Lord-Day worship services being blocked and persecuted, we still had over one hundred believers and truth seekers, including many friends coming for the first time to church meeting, to participate with us the open-air service by the river. In the afternoon of 21st of June, after the whole day’s tension, there were still over 50 church members present and ready to vote, except several members who had asked for leave. They are the ones God set apart and use to build—children of the holy covenant refined and tempered by fire. We thank God for these 61 church members who are determined to commit themselves to the church at this difficult moment.
As much as we know, it is the first house church banned publicly by the civil affair authority according to the . We do not know whether it is a new way of suppression that other cities may learn to practice, or whether it is a sign of government’s deteriorating attitude toward house church.
However, we have nowhere to retreat as a local manifestation of the universal Church of Christ here and now when we were announced “banned”. We cannot give up our first-born-son-ship to insist our right to have Lord-Day worship and to worship God as children of God.
All the preparatory elders and deacons of our church, in Jesus Christ and before all churches in Chengdu and all saints of universal Chinese churches, are determined to uphold our posts to protect the herd. If the Lord is willing, let us not give up the holy work until we are arrested into prison. We decide that:
1、 We will not retreat home by ourselves. We will insist the Lord Day Worship by all believers by all means and at all locations.
2、 Present our administrative reconsideration and administrative litigation of Non-compliance to administrative penalty decision to Chengdu Municipal Government. We are going to finish all secular law procedures with a submissive attitude.
3、 We are preparing to apply openly and legally for registration of church to Chengdu Civil Affair Bureau. We are going to finish registration procedures submissively.
4、 When the abovementioned legal procedures do not result in legitimacy of our meetings, we will observe and quote the article of “Religious Freedom” in Constitution, choosing benign breaching and insisting on regular worshiping and meetings, rejecting non-violently any decision by local government.
When the law enforcers of the civil affair bureau broke into the meeting, one preparatory elder was giving the financial report. After seeing them, he continued his report until interrupted. He said that he had watched a movie where a pastor continued his sermon after soldiers had broken into the church until a spear was cast. He said, “although our life, theology, pasturing, and service are far less than other churches in Chengdu, but that daring pastor is my model of being faithful to the work”. One co-worker said, “I read many papers about house church de-sensitization and going-public. When I read them, I thought we might have a beautiful future if more churches stand out and work hard. But I never thought a small and weak church like ours might be put to the frontline by the Lord where we have no place to retreat.”
We lack wisdom. We are still infirm. Determined we are, we cannot hold long by ourselves. We still have things from the flesh, intimidation, worries and little faith. We do not know what tomorrow will unfold. We do not know the next step of God. We do not know what impact this incident will have onto local churches. We do not know what the government will do or their attitude will be. We can not be counselor for the Lord but we are only believers of Jesus. We do not know what future we have. We do not even know God’s will in this particular event. We only know that God is immutable in His benevolence, omnipotence, and love and His eternal purpose that has been revealed by His grace through history.
We hope to be supported by prayers of churches in Chengdu. Please hold us in prayers constantly as a weak body among you. Pray for us and for our families. Pray that the Lord’s will, that must be accomplished, be revealed to us every day.
We hope all churches in China and abroad, burdened by us, to pray for Godly wisdom, might, peace and blessings of our response. Be persistent in prayers of the incident and future tendency of banning house church by the civil affair authority. May we be advised, comforted, and helped by you all.
May we little ones by the Lord’s grace not insult the Lord’s name. May all glory, praises be unto the Father, the Son and the Spirit, the only true God.