China Aid June 2015 Newsletter

Monday, June 1, 2015

I want to inform you that Zhang Cuijuan from Henan, the sister of imprisoned Pastor Zhang Shaojie and church leader at the Nanle County Christian Church, was released on May 31 after serving 18 months in prison for “disturbing social order.” However, Cuijuan’s real crime was organizing prayer meetings near the public security bureau’s office with members of the Nanle County Christian Church to pray for their pastor, Zhang Shaojie, who received a 12-year sentence on July 4, 2014, for defending the rights of his church and its members. The 18 months that Cuijuan spent in that dark prison cell was certainly not a pleasant experience, and in a letter written to me a day after she was released, Cuijuan stated this about her arrest and imprisonment:

“We became prisoners who were unprepared and innocent. The prison was hell on earth; no other words can describe it.” However, when she continued in her letter, this “hell on earth” as she put it, later came to be described as a learning experience. Cuijuan explained, “In prison, I was very grateful. I truly felt that God was with me, even though I suffered punishment in prison. I had a thankful heart; I had joy from God. I deeply know my true and living God. While my body suffered, my heart was free. God let me learn different life lessons. I know that the more persecution I endure, the greater the blessing.” How amazing is it that Cuijuan learned the freedom of a thankful heart, the intimacy of a living God and to count her blessings in the midst of persecution.

It’s clear from Cuijuan’s letter that she is full of gratitude for the outpouring of support from those of you who receive this newsletter and have partnered with China Aid. Through both our legal aid fund and family of prisoners program, we provided Cuijuan, the Zhang family and the Nanle County Christian Church with assistance from day one of the persecution against her family and their church. Through your support, we also rescued Pastor Zhang’s daughter Esther and her family out of imminent danger in China this past summer.

As Cuijuan learned that many of the numerous lawyers and reporters that traveled to Nanle County to help her family and church were beaten and arrested by the Chinese government, she struggled to hold back tears. Cuijuan ended her letter with this: “I really appreciate all the Christians in China and overseas who were concerned about my case — some I know, some I don’t. A special thanks to China Aid for their deep concern, which minimized the severity of damage to the Nanle County Christian Church. May the Lord bless you, and may His grace and peace be with you.” In reading Cuijuan’s letter, I was touched by the lessons she learned from her “prison school” experience. The Apostle Paul described these same lessons multiple times from his prison cell: to be grateful always, rejoice in affliction, and pray without ceasing.

With your support, China Aid will continue to serve the persecuted, such as Cuijuan, her brother Pastor Zhang Shaojie and all those who suffer in the absence of religious freedom and rule of law in China.

Guangdong police stop ‘illegal’ church gathering

Police officers in China’s southern Guangdong raided a gathering in Shenzhen held by a house church late last month, claiming the gathering was “illegal.”

A photo of the scene shows more than 10 police officers standing outside the apartment building in which Christians met for a Bible study on March 31.

One church member told China Aid th
at the congregation is concerned about retaliation from police if they talk to the media; the church member said that at some point, the policemen entered the building and told the church members the gathering was “illegal” and to stop meeting.

China Aid reports on cases like this to exposes the abuses encountered by Christians and other religious adherents at the hands of the Chinese government and advance the support of human rights and religous freedom in China.

Zhejiang authorities propose strict cross regulations

The provincial government in China’s coastal Zhejiang released a letter on May 4, asking Zhejiang citizens to send in their written opinions on the proposed regulations for religious buildings.

The Zhejiang Provincial Committee for Ethnic and Religious Affairs and the Zhejiang Provincial Department for Housing and Urban and Rural Construction released a joint request for opinions on the suggested “Zhejiang Provincial Codes for Religious Buildings.”

The letter’s primary request is for opinions regarding the condition that the “cross should … be completely attached to the front facade of the main religious building. The ratio of the length of the cross to the height of the building’s front facade must be less than 1:10 and the color must match the facade of the church and the ambient surroundings.” This condition would apply to Catholic and Protestant churches.

“This new proposal is yet another attempt by the government to legitimize its illegal, violent campaign of the destruction and removal of the cross,” China Aid founder and President Bob Fu said.

“The cross is one of the fundamental symbols of the Christian church. To continue to forcefully remove the cross on the rooftop of church buildings demonstrates the Chinese government’s determination to contain the rapid growth of Christianity in China. The campaign should stop immediately, and all those Christians and church leaders who were treated violently and arrested should be released unconditionally. The responsible officials should be held accountable,” Fu said.

The proposal is seen as a continuation of the province-wide “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign, which affected more than 425 churches in 2014.

Anhui police monitor house church pastor’s calls

Authorities in China’s eastern Anhui province threatened a house church pastor in early May after learning through monitored phone calls that the president of the Chinese House Church Alliance planned to deliver a sermon at the house church.

“I called Pastor Wu Changle, and the police listened to the phone call,” Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, said. “The next day, [May 8], six domestic security protection squad (DSPS) agents from the Suqian Municipal Public Security Bureau threatened Pastor Wu, saying that he must not welcome me.”

“They came to my house and said they knew Zhang had contacted me and planned on coming to visit,” Pastor Wu said. “They asked if I wanted him to visit and said the Chinese House Church Alliance has been banned.

“They said that if he comes to my home, I should just tell him I’m not there. I said Christians cannot tell lies. I’m home, and he wants to visit me because we haven’t seen each other in a long time. ... The police said if I really want to see him, I can do so, but we can’t go to a gathering. They also said if I decide to welcome him, I should notify the DSPS that Zhang is coming and when,” Wu said.

“I also said that if Pastor Zhang violates any law, they can take him into custody. If I commit a crime, they can take me into custody. Last time, when Pastor Zhang visited and gathered with the church for three days, the police came to my home three times,” Wu said.

Wu also said that police tried to place him under detention for five days following a previous visit from Zhang.

Zhang has faced repeated persecution from authorities across China, including incidents in Zhejiang in June 2014, and Jiangsu in May 2014.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985