International Christian Concern have started a petition for 37-year-old Qin Derfu, elder of the repeatedly harassed Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China.
He was one of 150 church members arrested in a raid on December 9, 2018. All were later released except Elder Qin and the church Pastor, Wang Yi, who is serving a nine-year prison sentence.
In November 2019 Elder Qin was tried at the Qingyang People’s Court. The court asked him to plead guilty to the charge of “illegal business operations” (printing and publishing 20,000 Bibles, gospel pamphlets and other Christian books without licence) but he refused.
The judge stated that “Qin’s criminal act was especially grave.” Qin was sentenced to four years in prison. The authorities reneged on a promise to his family that he would be released if they accepted two state-assigned lawyers to replace his own lawyer.
Elder Qin is married to Xiao Hongliu and they have two children, the younger of whom, Zhuoling, was born in 2018. He has not been allowed to see them since his arrest.
ERCC is one of China’s most prominent unregistered churches, with more than eight hundred members plus an affiliated primary school and Bible school. The church began in 2005 in Pastor Wang’s home but grew rapidly and at the time of the raid in December 2018 the church was renting two floors in an office building.
Many released church members have lost their jobs, been evicted or had their bank accounts frozen, and some have been sent back to their home towns in an apparent attempt to weaken the church leadership.
Please sign the petition, and please pray that Qin would find encouragement as he remains sentenced to prison without the ability to see his family, that he would be strengthened in his faith during this time, and that he would soon be released back to his family.