Appeal for Christian bookstore— verdict pending

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Logo of "Xiaomai Bookstore" (Wheat Bookstore)
(Photo: ChinaAid source)

(Linhai, Zhejiang Province—December 15, 2021) The Second Instance on Chen Yu’s case (Xiaomai Bookstore) of Linhai, Zhejiang, has opened. Chen Yu’s lawyer Deng Qinggao and Chen Yu’s parents attended the trial. Lawyer Deng and Chen Yu pleaded not guilty and made statements in court. The result of the second instance is currently pending decisions.



Due to owning and operating an online bookstore (Xiaomai Bookstore), which sold Christian reading materials, Zhang Xiaomai (formerly Chen Yu), a Christian from Linhai, was arrested on September 11, 2019, for “illegally selling foreign-published religious materials.” On September 27 of 2020, Zhejiang province’s Linhai People’s Court sentenced Chen Yu to seven years in prison, with a 200,000 yuan (~31,000 USD) fine on the charge of “illegally operating a business.” Authorities went on to destroy the 12,864 books seized from Xiaomai Bookstore. Subsequently, Chen Yu’s lawyer submitted an appeal to the Taizhou Intermediate People’s Court.



Early March of this year, Chen Yu’s mother, Zheng Jinmei, received a call from Chen Yu’s lawyer, saying that the Taizhou Intermediate People’s Court might open a trial around mid-March. However, Taizhou Intermediate People’s Court postponed the second instance’s hearing to September 30 on the grounds of the pandemic. Around September 30, Chen Yu’s mother received another notice from the lawyer, informing her that Chen Yu’s two lawyers were from Xiamen, which was classified as a high-risk area of Covid-19, so the second trial that was initially scheduled for September 30 will no longer proceed. The trial date was postponed again to the end of November.



Zheng Jinmei once asked a lawyer to relay to Chen Yu that she hoped he would join the daily “China’s five o’clock in the afternoon” prayer in prison and pray simultaneously with the Christians outside the prison. On June 3 of this year, Chen Yu’s lawyer met with Chen Yu at the Linhai City Detention Center in Zhejiang Province. Chen Yu’s parents also traveled a great distance to the detention center, but due to Covid restrictions, they could not accompany the lawyer to meet with Chen Yu. On that day, Chen Yu told lawyer Deng Qinggao that he had been persistently praying with everyone at five o’clock every afternoon.



On December 10, 2021, Chen Yu’s mother, Zheng Jinmei, received Chen Yu’s second letter since the last one in July. Chen Yu’s mother revealed that Chen Yu was not bitter, nor did he complain in the letter. Chen Yu said in the letter:



Father and mother, you have to be strong and joyful, live every day to the fullest. As the date for the second trial approaches, my heart is unexpectedly filled with peace. In the past two years, what have I lost? I temporarily lost the times with my family, but I did not lose love for my family; I temporarily lost my freedom, but I did not lose the freedom of thought; I temporarily lost my Sundays, but I did not lose my faith.



Chen Yu told the lawyer that though he was still imprisoned, the outside was a bigger prison. He thought this sentence made much sense; those with faith will not lose anything:



I can change hell into heaven, and I can sleep peacefully in a storm, I can sing praises of thanksgiving in prison, I can become a dancer with chains, those without faith cannot have anything, and will only change heaven into hell. Compared to those enslaved due to their fear of death, we are truly free and cannot lose anything. Abraham may seem to have lost Issac, Jacob, Joseph, and Benjamin. The father seemed to have lost the prodigal son; you may seem to have lost me, but they have gained back what was lost, and so may you. If it is more blessed to give than to receive, it can also be said that it is more blessed to lose than to have because only losing can bring about something greater. I firmly believe that we will be more beautiful and mature when we meet again. May you remain strong and joyful, your son Chen Yu who loves you.



Chen Yu told the lawyer that though he was still imprisoned, the outside was a bigger prison. He thought this sentence made much sense; those with faith will not lose anything.



Chen Yu’s mother recently fell ill but was greatly comforted and encouraged by her son’s letter:



“May God use my son’s letter, and I hope it resonated with everyone. No matter those imprisoned or on the outside, we believe that the wondrous Holy Spirit will be with those imprisoned; their lives will be held up high.”



Chen Yu’s mother continued by saying that she is thankful to God for giving her a son like this. She has also seen how her son, though imprisoned behind high walls, his life has been uplifted, and his faith has been strengthened.

~ Yu Bing, ChinaAid Special Correspondent

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