The 11-year-old son of a detained Chinese Christian pastor and his wife is in "shock" after witnessing the arrest of his parents and has been unable to sleep, his grandmother has revealed.
On Sunday, Wang Yi, Senior Pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church and one of China's most prominent Protestant pastors, was arrested along with his wife, Jiang Rong, and over 100 members of his congregation.
Wang's mother, 73-year-old Chen Yaxue, told the South China Morning Post that police escorted her grandson and Wang's wife to her home at around 8 pm on Sunday to arrange care for the boy.
Jiang was allowed to stay for only two hours before police took her away. Now, Chen is taking care of her grandson and they have been placed under round-the-clock surveillance.
"They follow us wherever we go," she said. "The surveillance is taking a huge toll on my grandson – he's in shock after [his parents were taken away]. He hasn't slept for two nights."
"I'm very sad and confused, not sure what to think now. I just want to take my grandson to Xishaungbana [in Yunnan province] to run away from all this madness."
Chen said local community officers kept pressuring her to send her grandson to a nearby school. Previously, the boy was a student of a primary school run by the raided church.
Ahead of the arrests, Chengdu police went to Chen's flat and brought along an arrest notice asking her to sign, she told SCMP
"It said my son has been placed under criminal detention for allegedly inciting subversion of state power," Chen said, adding she refused to sign the document.
Although illegal, Early Rain Church openly practices its faith, posting sermons online and evangelizing on the streets, the outlet reports.
Overall, the church has about 500 followers, but its weekly gatherings spread across more than a dozen meeting points around Chengdu, attracting more than 800 congregants each week, according to church leaders. It also has about 100 seminary students and a primary school attended by about 40 children.
Church members arrested on Sunday included other church leaders and seminary students, with Communist officials detaining other Christians in Chengdu hiding in their homes as well.
Two days after Wang was taken away, church members released an open letter he wrote in September. He had given instructions that the document be publicized if he went missing for more than 48 hours.
In it, the pastor shared his hopes that God will use the persecution of Chinese Christians "to help more Chinese people to despair of their futures, to lead them through a wilderness of spiritual disillusionment and through this to make them know Jesus."
He said that the persecution of believers and followers of Christ "is the most wicked and the most horrendous evil of Chinese society."
"This is not only a sin against Christians. It is also a sin against all non-Christians. For the government is brutally and ruthlessly threatening them and hindering them from coming to Jesus. There is no greater wickedness in the world than this," he argued.
"If this regime is one day overthrown by God, it will be for no other reason than God's righteous punishment and revenge for this evil. For on earth, there has only ever been a thousand-year church. There has never been a thousand-year government. There is only eternal faith. There is no eternal power," the pastor declared.