By Yu Bing —
Authorities in China did not inform an imprisoned church leader of his mother’s passing, much less allow him to attend her memorial service.
Yin Zhixiu, mother of former elder Hao Ming of Early Rain Qingcaodi Church in Deyang, passed away. Elder Hao, who was detained in prison, did not know of his mother’s passing. He was kept from saying his last goodbyes to his mother. At 8:00 AM on August 5, Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu held a memorial service for Yin Zhixiu at the funeral home in Deyang City. Elder Li Yingqiang preached at the memorial service.
Elder Hao Ming’s father passed eight years ago, was a staunch Marxist, and refused to believe in God until his death. A year ago, Elder Hao wrote an essay in memory of his father. At the end of the essay, he wrote emotionally: “Dear God, you have abandoned my father, a former revolutionary. This was the burden you have placed on me. However, I pray that you will not cast away many others I call friends.”
Elder Li Yingqiang recalled at Mrs. Yin’s memorial ceremony:
I was very moved at Elder Hao’s father’s funeral. This was because Elder Hao’s speech was very different from that of many others at their own father’s funerals. Elder Hao expressed his deep admiration of his father’s character and the integrity of his life. His father was always kind towards his family and children. He sincerely misses his father. But at the same time, he also points out several shortcomings in his father’s life, especially that his father, till the end, was still influenced by a wrong belief system (Marxism) and could not know the Lord Jesus Christ. Elder Hao Ming pointed out that this was his greatest regret about his father’s life.
Not long after the death of Elder Hao’s father, his mother started going to church and was soon baptized. This gave Elder Hao great comfort.
Just over a month ago, 10 days after Yin Zhixiu became seriously ill, Elder Hao Ming was allowed to video call his mother.
During the call, Elder Hao Ming repeatedly asked his mother, “Mom, Mom, Mom! Do you believe in God?”
“I believe in Him!” his mother, Yin Zhixiu, replied.
Elder Hao was comforted. “If you believe, we should not be afraid. We will have peace and joy from God. Our flesh may perish, but we will return to our home in heaven.”
At Yin Zhixiu memorial ceremony, Elder Li Yingqiang preached
Yet [different from Elder Hao’s father’s memorial service], today, when we bid farewell to Elder Hao Ming’s mother, we no longer say goodbye with regret. Rather, we come together with firm confidence and earnest hope. Although we are also greatly grieved and saddened by this loss, we also come with a congratulatory heart. We celebrate that Sister Yin Zhixiu has walked through the wilderness of this life, crossed the cold river of death, and returned to Mount Zion in the sky. Her body is like an old garment she has taken off. She took off this old garment and put on a new, glorious garment. This is not the end of her life. You could even say this is a new beginning.
Qingcaodi Church, which Elder Hao Ming served for more than 10 years, was originally a mission center of Early Rain Covenant Church in Deyang City. It later became part of the Reformed Church in western China.
Elder Hao Ming is a signatory to the “Joint Statement: A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith” initiated by Pastor Wang Yi in 2018. Three days after the mass crackdown on Early Rain Covenant Church on December 12, 2018, Qingcaodi Church was also targeted. Several police officers broke into the church hall to disperse the congregation that was studying the Bible. A notice to dissemble was put on the doors of the church.
On March 25, 2021, the Sichuan Provincial Department of Civil Affairs announced a list of illegal social organizations that had been banned, persuaded to disband, or exposed. Qingcaodi Church and Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church were both listed.
The 65-year-old Elder Hao Ming and Elder Wu Jiannan were taken away by Deyang police on November 17, 2021. Also taken away at the same time were Yang Yufeng, the wife of Elder Hao Ming, co-workers Liu Wuyi, Liu Yongbo, Lan Enguang, and others. They are all charged with “suspected fraud.” Elder Hao Ming and Elder Wu Jiannan were criminally detained on November 19 on suspicion of fraud, and the others were released one after another. On Christmas Day 2021, the families of elders Hao Ming and Wu Jiannan received their arrest notices.
The positions of Elder Hao Ming and Elder Wu Jian are elected by the members of the church, and both had good reputations in the church. The church recognized Elder Hao Ming’s strict self-discipline and strong moral character. His family also opened up their own house for the church to gather in. Even the police said they did not believe that Elder Hao would cheat.
Tithing to the church is a Christian tradition, whether ordinary believers, pastors, elders, and co-workers are all willing to give. It is a biblical requirement that a small portion of the offering is used to support ministers, and the larger portion of the offering is used to help needy Christians. Elder Hao Ming receives 100 yuan (roughly $14.80) per month from the church as a subsidy for the purchase of books. To charge Elder Hao with “fraud” on this account is completely absurd.
After Hao Ming and Wu Jiannan were imprisoned, their lawyers repeatedly applied for interviews. Those applications were all rejected. They could not see their lawyers until May 31, 2022.
After holding the funeral service for Elder Hao Ming’s mother, Early Rain Covenant Church issued a public prayer letter asking Christian brothers and sisters to continue to pray for Elder Hao Ming: “We pray that the Lord will protect his heart and allow him to be comforted by the resurrection power of Jesus Christ from death. We also pray that the Lord will continue to look graciously upon the descendants of Sister Yin Zhixiu and bless their family.” — ChinaAid
~Yu Bing, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid