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declaration of faithful disobedience

2004 the Chinese periodical Southern People Weekly (南方人物周刊) compiled their “50 Most Influential Public Intellectuals of China.” Included was Wang Yi, a pioneering human-rights attorney. 2005 Wang Yi converted to Christianity and began serving in a house church. 2008 at the Conference for Global Christians in Law he was awarded the “Prize for the Contribution to Promoting Religious Freedom.” That same year in Chengdu he founded a house church, Early Rain Covenant Church.

12/9/2018 Wang Yi and 100 members of his church were arrested by Chinese authorities. The government simultaneously banned all reporting about these arrests. 3/25/2019 The NY Times reported Wang Yi and his wife remain in custody.

After he’d been detained for 48 hours, Early Rain Covenant Church released Wang Yi’s “Declaration of Faithful Disobedience.” The following is adapted from his declaration:

On the basis of the teachings of the Bible, I respect the authorities God has established in China. As a pastor of a Christian church, I am filled with anger and disgust at the persecution of the church by this Communist regime.

But changing social and political institutions is not the mission I have been called to, and it is not the goal for which God has given His people the gospel. True hope and a perfect society will never be found in the transformation of any earthly institution or culture.

Christ is eager and willing to forgive all who turn from their sins. This is the goal of all the efforts of the church in China—to testify to the world about our Christ, to testify to the Middle Kingdom about the Kingdom of Heaven, to testify to earthly, momentary lives about heavenly, eternal life.

I accept and respect the fact that this Communist regime has been allowed by God to rule temporarily. At the same time, I believe that this Communist regime’s persecution against the church is greatly wicked. But this does not mean that my personal disobedience and the disobedience of the church is in any sense “fighting for rights” or political activism. The goal of my disobedience is not to change the world, but to testify about another world.

The mission of the church is only to be the church and not to become a part of any secular institution. All acts of the church are attempts to prove to the world the existence of another world. Spiritual disobedience and bodily suffering are both ways we testify to another eternal world—to another glorious King.

I understand that the Communist regime is filled with fear at a church that is no longer afraid.

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; there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.

I will serve my sentence, but I will not serve the law. I will be executed, but I will not plead guilty.

Persecution against the Lord’s church and against all Chinese people who believe in Jesus Christ is the most wicked and the most horrendous evil of Chinese society. The government is brutally and ruthlessly hindering people from coming to Jesus. There is no greater wickedness.

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 compassion and grief toward those who imprison me.

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.

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. I am His servant. I am imprisoned because of this. I will resist in meekness those who resist God. I will joyfully violate all laws that violate God’s laws.

The Lord’s servant,
Wang Yi