August 2016 newsletter
On 20 December 2015, Pastor Yang Hua’s wife expected to pick him up from the Chinese prison where he had been held since 9 December. When she arrived, she instead watched four men shove her husband, also known as Li Guozhi, into an unmarked van and leave the prison. Later, after being accused of divulging state secrets, he spent 924 days in prison before being released in June 2018.
While in prison, Yang wrote these words of encouragement to his wife: “Never be dejected and despondent; always look up at our Lord, and always keep the spiritual life above the chaos … rest in God’s arms. Be upright and take care. Be prepared for the rest of the road. I will go with you. If the Lord doesn’t allow it, not a single hair will drop to the floor.”
Some believe his imprisonment was intended to intimidate the Living Stone Church, which he founded in Guiyang, Guizhou, in 2009. When the church began to grow in size and influence, it came under increasing government scrutiny and pressure. Church members had continued to gather regularly in small groups until the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when they moved to online worship.
When China relaxed some of its pandemic-related restrictions, the church again began gathering in small groups. “They are having everything, including Bible study, children’s classes and baptism preparation classes,” a Christian contact in China said. Pastor Yang remains under constant surveillance and is unable to travel freely.