Updated: Jul 30, 2021
“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.”
Pastor Wang Yi, “My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience”
Early Rain Church,
On December 30, 2019, the Intermediate People’s Court of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, publicly pronounced the following judgment in accordance with the law regarding the case of the defendant Wang Yi for the crimes of ‘inciting to subvert state power’ and ‘illegal business operations’: For the crimes of ‘inciting to subvert state power’ and ‘illegal business operations,’ Wang Yi is sentenced to 9 years in prison; he is deprived of political rights for 3 years, and 50,000 RMB of his personal property shall be seized.
More than a year ago I began writing about a courageous Pastor in Sichuan Province in China. I knew then that Pastor Yi’s arrest and incarceration represented a significant escalation of the persecution of the church in China. The report of Wang Yi’s sentencing only confirms what I suspected. In the months that have followed numerous churches that have resisted the pressure to submit to the rewriting of the Bible by the communist government have been padlocked, bulldozed to the ground and burned.
These events are of grave importance for the church to take note of, because I believe we may be headed down that same road in America. There are strong forces that want to push the government into the pews of America, to rewrite our doctrine, condemn the Holy Scriptures as “hate literature,” and force churches into compliance with godless laws and practices. I continue to push Pastor Wang Yi into public view here in America because I believe that he and his church leadership are providing the faithful here in America with a pattern or model for behavior in our own future. Allow me to provide you with a couple of remarkable quotes from Pastor Yi:
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.
Regardless of what crime the government charges me with, whatever filth they fling at me, as long as this charge is related to my faith, my writings, my comments, and my teachings, it is merely a lie and temptation of demons. I categorically deny it. I will serve my sentence, but I will not serve the law. I will be executed, but I will not plead guilty.”
“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.”
With all of the rhetoric being vomited out on all sides of moral and religious issues today, and certainly with the militaristic fervor being raised within the church in America that is pushing us closer and closer to the very real possibility of a civil war … please give heed to not only the words but the gentle spirit of Wang Yi who now faces at least 9 years in prison (he’s already served more than a year) and the loss of his personal property, separation from his family and cut off from his precious flock.
I confess to all. I am a fighter by nature and very susceptible to the idea of taking up arms against those who would threaten my precious family, my church family, or my faith. Yet, there is something in this gentle man that calls to me. It calls to me out of a deep, deep well that I am sure I have not often drunk from, but it is a well I long to draw from.
Wang Yi has latched onto something that I think not many of us have. For him, the center of it all is the Kingdom. It is not self-preservation nor is it clinging to a precious lifestyle. Wang Yi has sold himself solely out to the Kingdom of God and though it might … probably will … cost him his life. It is a price this humble preacher has chosen to pay if required.
While many of us have chosen our heroes, whether Donald Trump, Luke Skywalker, or Iron Man. I have laid my eyes upon a hero that does not wear a cape, nor does he have superpowers. Yet, with great grace and amazing fortitude Wang Yi has placed himself directly in the path of the massive government of China and refuses to move.
It is his declaration of “faithful disobedience” that stirs my heart tonight as I watch from afar. I tell you this: Before this story has been told we will see a power unleashed from Heaven that the world has not recently beheld.