Posts Tagged ‘China

07
Sep
09

World Watch List: North Korea

North Korea has been at the top of the WWL for seven consecutive years.  Of the 28.3 million citizens of North Korea, 70% have no religious belief.  People are told they must worship the country’s political leader, Kim Jung Il. Only 1.7% of the population are Christian.  The borders are closely monitored and people caught trying to leave N. Korea are sent back and forced into prison camps, beaten, tortured and often executed. Many try to escape to China, but Chinese government actively looks for North Korean refugees and sends them back. The amount of people in labor and prison camps has risen since 2008 and there are an estimated 50-70,000 Christians in camps.  In your prayers for North Korea, pray that spiritual and physical aid reaches the estimated 400,000 believers in the country. Also pray for wisdom and strenght for those trying to escape.

While Christians are specifically targeted due to the fact that they are viewed as threat to the government, most people in North Korea are suffering under the oppresive rule of Kim Jung Il. The government violates all international human rights laws and many different groups are concerned with the situation in N. Korea. I found the following video on YouTube and although its a bit long , I encourage you to watch it all the way through. It has alot of interesting facts and the pictures demonstrate the horrific situation better than this humble blogger can.

03
Sep
09

The Power of the Pen

There are so many ways we can support the persecuted church. The obvious ways are through prayer and donations, but Open Doors has several programs that allow us to reach out in different ways. My favorite is their letter writing program.  You can write a letter s to Christians in China, Columbia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mexico and Uzbeckistan.  Here’s how:

1)      Visit www.opendoorsusa.org. Click on the “Get Involved” tab

2)      Download the “Letter Writing Guide.” It gives suggestions of things to write and gives specifics on what is not okay to write. It also tells you where to send the letters. It is very important to read this guide as it will help protect your identity and the identity of the recipients.

3)      Scroll through the list of people you can write letters to, pick one, and start writing. Open Doors has done a great job of posting basic personal histories of people who receive letters. There is the story of Brother Ning who spent 7 years in prison for illegal house church activities and is now having a hard time readjusting to life outside prison. Or you could write to Jemima, a Nigerian widow who lost her husband in an attack by Muslim extremists and now cares for her her 11 children by herself.

This is such a great way to minister to our brother’s and sister’s being persecuted. I recently participated in this activity by writing to the children at the Children’s Home in Columbia. I wrote down some encouraging song lyrics and I had the kids I babysit draw pictures and write little notes. They loved it! The letters, pictures and lyrics were hand delivered by one of our staff that recently went on a trip to Columbia.

Not only was this a great way to encourage the persecuted, it was a great teaching tool for the kids I babysit. It taught  them a little bit about the persecuted church (without being too graphic or scary)and showed them that there is something they can do to help.  This would be a great project for homeschoolers. The whole project took about 30 minutes and didn’t cost me anything, but I know its going to bring a smile to those kids.. Thank you in advance for giving up a small part of your day to support and encourage the persecuted.

one of the children we wrote letters to.

one of the children we wrote letters to.

06
Aug
09

3 years is nothing

What goes through a Christian prisoner’s mind on his day of sentencing? In a letter written from his prison cell, Shi Weihan allows us a rare opportunity to re-live with him the events of June 10, 2009. Shi, 40, a Christian bookstore owner in Beijing, was originally arrested by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) Nov. 28, 2007 along with one of his employees Tian Hongxia. He and his family have gone the through the ups and downs of the Chinese legal system since then.

The prison guards didn’t give me any prior notice of the trial. That day, I was summoned so swiftly after breakfast that I didn’t even have time to change but left in my yellow prisoner’s garb.

As I got into the court van, I saw 15 other prisoners packed inside – six aside on benches with no room to move and three crouching in the middle – all with hands cuffed behind their backs. I could see two other vans which were also packed with 15 prisoners each. A jeep carrying policemen from the courthouse escorted the convoy at the back. We weren’t allowed to talk in the van, but we could hear the policemen’s conversation: except for my case which would be tried in the “Collegiate Hall,” all the other prisoners’ cases would be tried in the “Simple Hall.”

I was praying all the way, entrusting my whole self to God. These words sounded in my ears again: “You are part of My plan. Every step you take brings you closer to victory. You are My child; My grace is sufficient for you.”
My eyes welled up with tears and I tried my utmost to hold them back. I prayed, “Whatever Your will, Lord, please give me strength!”

The van drivers were speeding like cows on a rampage. Suddenly, two vans braked to a halt. The momentum was so strong that my handcuffs cut into my skin. At that moment, I felt like we were being treated worse than pigs.
I’d been cut off from the outside world during the last two months, but I was in no mood to peek out at the scenery on the streets. I kept praying in my heart that I would not throw up.

Very soon, we arrived at the entrance to the basement of the courthouse and some policemen came to take us inside in a single file. In the basement, they handcuffed my hands in the front and locked me in a small glassed cubicle while the other prisoners were divided into groups of seven or eight persons and locked in three or four other cubicles. I sat down on a bench to rest, waiting for the nauseous feeling to pass.

The policemen in the courthouse gathered outside our cubicles for their instructions. The air felt thick with tension. I tried to calm my breathing so that I could eavesdrop on their conversation through the glass partition. The policeman in charge gave them each a small electric baton and said, “If any prisoner
is unwilling to accept the judgment when it’s passed, don’t strike them in the courtroom. Do it after you bring them back to the basement. Is this understood?” They replied in unison, “Understood.”

After they were dismissed, several of them tested their batons. The crackling sound of electric sparks reached my ears. It was a frightening sound. A thought struck me: “If I am the only one being sentenced, why are there so many policemen?” It felt like an ill portent.

The court policewoman had called my name three times. She sounded so serious that I wondered if it was a good sign. How long a sentence would I receive? An acquittal? One and a half, three, five, eight, 10 years? Anything seemed possible. But I told myself that I am a servant of God with a clear conscience – never have I failed my country, its society, people and church!

I heard my name called the fourth time. I responded that I was in the first cubicle and two policemen opened the glass screen and brought me out. At the first floor, I was made to squat facing a wall with my head bowed. A tall and stout policeman came to snap an unflattering photo of my profile – barefoot, in prisoner’s garb and head bowed towards the wall.

The judge came in, surrounded by several uniformed and plain-clothed policemen. They talked and handed the court secretary a document, then instructed her to bring me into the courtroom. After a policeman violently pushed me back down on the floor before releasing my handcuffs, I finally walked into the courtroom followed by Tian and five others from the printing factory. I prayed, “Please give me strength.”

Two policemen grabbed me by the shoulders and escorted me to the first defendant’s chair. I quickly scanned the faces of the people seated on the other side and saw Dad, Mum, Zhang Jing… I missed them so much.
After a few minutes, the judge entered the room. He asked a couple of brief questions and then made us stand up to receive our sentences. But I couldn’t hear what he was saying. My emotions ran wild because I was so happy to see my family again. I tried to calm myself and hold back the tears that filled my eyes.

When the judge called my name, I very quickly came back from turmoil to reality. “Prison term of three years, fine of 150,000 Yuan ($22,000),” he pronounced. I took it most calmly. I had expected a term of 12 years at least for the 2.57 million Bibles that were discovered and the tens of millions that had been distributed before that. Three years was acceptable – they would pass in a blink. If the government had wanted to be lenient, they would have done something much earlier. This case was thorny for them as well.

After each one of us heard our sentences, we were handcuffed again to leave the courtroom. I turned around to face my family, raised and waved my hands, and smiled at them. Though no words passed between us, my eyes communicated God’s blessing to them. We would be strong in God!

The policeman tugged at my hands to rush me to leave. As I lowered my hands and turned away, I heard my wife yell, “Shi, I love you!” This time I could no longer stop the tears from running down my face. I
walked out of the room with my head lowered and without turning back because I didn’t want my wife and parents to see their husband and son crying.

We were taken back to our cubicles at the basement. No one resisted, so the policemen had no opportunity to use their electric batons.

Alone once more in my cubicle, I had no reason to hold back my tears, so I cried my heart out until there were no more tears. As I calmed down, I fell to my knees facing the wall and offered up my thanks to my Father. I heard the same voice ring over and over again in my ears: “My child, My grace is sufficient for you.”

I enjoyed the beautiful scenery and watched the passers-by on the streets as we rode back to the prison. I could sincerely say in my heart, ‘Lord, You are so great!’ The rest of the day passed with joy.

It is only around a year before I will be reunited with my family. Three years in prison in exchange for millions of souls – that’s totally worthwhile! A portion of Scripture that has been my source of strength came back to me:
“’We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.’ (2 Corinthians 4:8-12, NIV)

“Three years in prison in exchange for millions of souls – that’s totally worthwhile!” That statement had such an impact on me. I’m barely willing to endure three minutes of social discomfort or embarrasement to share the gospel…much less three years of imprisonment! Lord grand me the courage you gave Shi…courage to share your word, will and love at whatever cost. Then grant me the joy to celebrate having to pay that cost.

Pray for Shi and his family…that his last year of imprisonment will be full of opportunities to further the kingdom of God, that they will have strength to endure the seperation and that they really will be reunited at the end of the sentence.

16
Jul
09

Meet the Persecuted- Uyger Christians in China

Testimony of Uygur Christians in China

“That must be Mamat* now,” Helen said when she heard a faint knock on the door of the apartment.  Moments later a 20-something man with grey pants and a brown cargo jacket was standing in the Open Doors office, twisting his Uygur (pronounced WEE-ger) cap in his hands. 

Helen led him to a seat and offered him some tea. “Green Tea or Berryblossom White?” 

“Oh, may I try the berry tea?” he asked very politely, still twisting the cap in his hands.  He knew that if he was discovered sitting in the apartment of foreign Christians, the consequences could be serious.  Yet he wanted to meet with us and share his experience of life as a Muslim convert in one of the most restricted parts of China. 

Mamat was from a Muslim family, and as a teenager he was very eager to defend Islam.  He said he and his brothers would often hit his sister if her skirts were too short, or if she went out with boys without supervision. 

When he was 17 years old, a friend gave him a political tape to listen to—the tape urged the Uygurs to rise up against the government and declare an independent homeland.  Mamat did not agree with the opinions expressed, but listened to the tape out of loyalty to his friend. 

Just a few days later, officers from China’s Public Security Bureau arrested Mamat. At the police station, he was put through an interrogation. “Yes, I did listen to the tape,” he told them, “but I didn’t understand it. Please forgive me – I won’t do it again!” But in spite of his pleas of innocence, he was charged and sentenced to 40 days in prison. 

He was thrown into a concrete cell crowded with 20 men. Conditions were very sparse, with thin mats on the cement floors for bedding. The men were fed water and steamed bread for breakfast, water at lunchtime and another piece of steamed bread for their evening meal. Mamat soon felt weak and dizzy when he tried to stand up. 

The time in prison made him desire to live an even more devout life.  After his release, Mamat knelt every day on his prayer mat at work. However as time passed he hungered for something more than the ritual of those empty prayers. 

Eventually Mamat moved to a university in a large city in China where he hoped to study English. At the university, a classmate shared the story of Jesus with him. He listened warily, remembering a time when another “political” message not popular with the Chinese government had landed him in prison. 

There was a strong pull in these new stories about “God’s Son” named Jesus. Surprising even himself, Mamat agreed to go along to a restaurant and meet a foreigner who was speaking with a small group of Chinese students. At that meeting the foreigner invited Mamat to meet with him at his home once a week, to read and discuss the Bible. Mamat was so hungry for truth that he agreed.

He met faithfully with the teacher for a full year, touched by his faithfulness and friendship. Finally Mamat realized that if people had believed in Jesus for 2,000 years, and if Jesus had that much influence throughout history, then the message of the gospel must be true. After 12 months of deep soul-searching, he committed his life to Christ.  

At the time, he was sharing a dormitory with five other young men, all of them Uygurs. The foreign Christian had given him a partial translation of the Uygur Bible, which he kept hidden under his pillow. He would bring it out at night when nobody else was in the room.  One night, one or two of his fellow students saw him reading the Bible and began to ask questions. The problem was, they were very difficult questions, ones for which Mamat had no answers. 

As we sat drinking tea (Mamat seemed to like it), we handed over another book in Uygur that answered similar questions on faith. As Mamat leafed through its pages, his face lit up. “This book is exactly what I needed,” he told us, “a real answer to prayer!” 

Uygur Christians face double persecution. They are persecuted by their Muslim families, neighbors and imams (religious leaders) who believe conversion to another faith is a rejection of the Uygur culture and everything it stands for. Persecution also comes from the Chinese government. Authorities are wary of the Uygur people because of their drive for an independent homeland in northwest China. A Uygur who becomes a Christian is immediately marked as a double traitor to the People’s Republic. 

Knowing the risks, Mamat continues to share his faith with his fellow students. A few months ago he started an English conversational group that meets in a tea shop outside the university. There, they discuss the issues of faith and the meaning of life, often reading passages from the Bible. 

That day over our cups of hot tea, Mamat asked us to pray for wisdom for the future. Life back in his hometown is very difficult because his friends remain true to Islam and do not understand why Mamat no longer attends prayers at the mosque. His prayer is that God would protect him and show him the way to reach his own people.

* Names and photographs hidden for security reasons




The purpose of the blog

To EDUCATE, ENLIGHTEN and ENCOURAGE. To be a voice to those who have none, a voice that is LOUDER than their persecution, oppression and pain. A righteous voice that is LOUDER than the enemy.

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