Posts Tagged ‘Uyger

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.

Hungry? Subscribe to the feed

A look into the past

A little birdie told me…

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Recent Readers

View My Profile View My Profile View My Profile View My Profile View My Profile