Date: August 13, 2019
Authorities in China are to “disregard” the two lawyers appointed by jailed Pastor Wang Yi to defend him against a charge of incitement to “subvert state power” and will appoint their own “Christian” attorneys to represent him, according to Early Rain Church.
Members of the congregation said they “strongly oppose” the appointment of state-authorised lawyers to defend the pastor “against his will”, regardless of whether they are Christians.
In an emergency statement published on Facebook on 10 August the church said, “Pastor Wang Yi does not accept, does not recognise, and even condemns all actions performed [in his defence] by state-appointed attorneys, and he refuses to accept attorneys appointed by anyone but himself or his immediate family members. Our position is the same.”
The pastor and his wife, Jiang Rong, were arrested on 9 December 2018, along with about 100 other church members. He and four others remain in detention at the time of writing.
On 8 August, Zhang Peihong, one of the two defence lawyers appointed by Wang Yi and his family, said they still had not been allowed access to their client, who faces a second charge of “running illegal business operations”.
Zhang, who was refused access to see the pastor in Chengdu jail, Sichuan province on 17 July, said he had since made repeated requests to speak to the head of the public prosecution department but they all went unanswered.
The lawyer said, “Considering that Pastor Wang Yi is an expert on law, he must certainly be at a loss as to why he has not been able to meet with his lawyers. We must not rule out the possibility that relevant departments have hinted to him that the world has already forgotten him … Pastor Wang Yi needs your prayers.”
Early Rain members also reported on their Facebook page that the meetings of two other unofficial congregations, known as “house churches”, were “forcefully interrupted” in Chengdu on 4 August in a joint raid by the Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs and the Public Security Bureau. Early Rain members are also facing new travel restrictions.
Please join us in prayer: Call on the Lord to give renewed strength to Pastor Wang Yi and ask that he will not be discouraged by the authorities’ determination to isolate him from his legal team. Ask that the pastor’s faith and courage will be a beacon of light and truth to other prisoners and his guards. Pray for God’s safeguarding over all the Early Rain, and other church members, held in detention or prison at this time.