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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Kayla Koslosky

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

After being detained for eight months, an elder at the Early Rain Covenant Church in China was released from prison this week.

According to the Pray for Early Rain Covenant Church Facebook page, Li Yingqiang was arrested with 160 other church members – including the church’s pastor Wang Yi – some eight months ago. The government had raided the Early Rain Covenant house church near the end of 2018, but it wasn’t until Sunday that Li was let out on bail and reunited with his family, the Christian Post reports.

“Yesterday, Elder Li Yingqiang was released from jail after eight months in criminal detention. He was sent back to his hometown, where he was reunited with his wife and children,” the Facebook post read.

Pastor Wang Yi and his wife, Jiang Rong were also arrested in a December 11 raid – just days before Li would be imprisoned. 

Jiang was released on bail after being held for six months, but Wang’s whereabouts are still unknown, Asia News reports.

The Chinese government's raid on the church is just one incident among many following 2018 legislation that placed stricter regulations on religious freedom.

This was particularly damaging for Early Rain members as, according to BBC, the church members worship very openly and publicly. 

Pastor Wang has also publicly criticized the Chinese government's interference in religion, the Christian Post reports. 

According to the South China Morning Post, just before his arrest last December, Li asserted that the church would continue to gather for worship despite the government raids and arrests. 

“Even if we are down to our last five, worship and gatherings will still go on because our faith is real," Li was quoted as saying according to the South China Morning Post. 

“Persecution,” he continued, “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.”

Related: 

Chinese Officials Warn: Christianity Causes ‘Enormous Harm’ to Society

China Forces Churches to Sing Songs Praising Communist Regime

Trump Admin. Blasts China on Religious Persecution: ‘The Stain of the Century’

Photo courtesy: Pixabay

A pastor in India reportedly miraculously survived after being beaten nearly to death by a Hindu communist group.

According to Faithwire, Pastor Tilak was captured by a group of Naxalites and “mercilessly beaten.”

The group asked him:” Will you leave your Christian faith or not?”

“I cannot leave my faith … No,” Tilak said.

The group bound his arms and legs together and continued to beat him with a large stick. They then forced Tilak to crawl up a mountain path of rocks and thorns.

When they thought he was dead, the men threw Tilak’s body in a ditch.

They then went to the homes of other Christians, saying “See, as your Jesus was beaten and killed, so have we killed your pastor now. His body is in a ditch in the forest. Find him and bury him.”

A group of Christian families found his body and brought him back to the village. Tilak then allegedly opened his eyes.

“When his persecutors heard the news, they rushed to the house to see it for themselves,” Open Doors USA reported. “Hindu villagers, the same ones who had urged the Naxalites to silence this man, were shocked. They were the ones who had complained that he was polluting the minds of their neighbors with his gospel, confident that the Naxalites would make quick work of him.”

When Tilak recovered, the Naxalites took him to a forest and told him to leave the area.

“I left the village with my family at once, as I had suffered extreme torture a year ago. I didn’t want the same for my family,” he said.

Tilak and his family were welcomed into their new community and today, share a hut with another family.

“It’s been a few years, but we are still very much traumatized,” he said. “We did not have courage to talk with anyone in the new village or share the gospel. However, when we attended the Persecution Preparedness Seminar, we experienced change in our hearts and minds. We are, however, still in the process of healing.”

Photo courtesy: Pixabay

An Ohio pastor has been charged with coercion and enticement of a minor after he allegedly sexually assaulted a teenager.

According to the Christian Post, Cesar Guerrero of Misión Cristiana El Calvario in Sharonville told police that he had sex with the teenager to “fix her fears.”

Police say the teenage girl had also been sexually abused as a child.

Court documents say he told the 17-year-old to take off her clothes to “clear her head” and made her perform oral sex “in order to free her mouth.” He also asked her to send him sexually explicit photos.

The pastor originally contacted the teenager through Facebook and told her that he had dreamed of her “dressed in white while walking in a dark place.” He said God was speaking to him through the dream.

He also told her that the “cleansing process” for her and the “only way to get out of the dark place” were for her to have sex with him.

The girl’s father told reporters that he was shocked to learn that a pastor had taken advantage of his daughter.

"Angry, frustrated, can't believe. You don't believe in God no more," her father said.

"He's been using God's Word to tell the girls to do sexual things and the girls really thought that was coming from God.”

The teenager isn’t the only one to complain about Guerrero’s behavior.

Another girl says that when she was 14, Guerrero sexually abused her at a conference in New York where she had traveled with other church members.

During the conference, Guerrero allegedly took the then 14-year-old to his hotel room and to “show him how she kissed her boyfriend.” She says he pushed her on the bed and fondled her, telling her “if she was a child of God, she would obey him.”

Photo courtesy: Gbarkz/Unsplash

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