Christian prisoner pens poem while facing hefty sentence

Zhang Xiuhong (left) was sentenced
to five years in prison.
(Photo: China Aid)

China Aid

(Guiyang, Guizhou—March 6, 2017) An imprisoned Christian woman recently penned a poem recounting the year she spent in police custody in China’s southern Guizhou province, even as she faces five years’ incarceration

Zhang Xiuhong, the chairwoman of Huoshi Church’s Board of Deacons and the church accountant, wrote a piece that retells what she could not experience during the year of 2016 due to her imprisonment and expresses the hope and joy she experiences in the midst of her cruel experiences.

On July 28, 2015, she was seized by local authorities for “illegal business operations.” Her defense lawyers, Xiao Yunyang and Li Guisheng, were not allowed to plead guilty on her behalf and argued that the transaction was an invalid piece of evidence, since she did not benefit from it.

Her trial commenced on Jan. 23 at 9:00 a.m., and the Nanming District Court sentenced her to five years in prison on Feb. 10. She appealed her sentence on Feb. 17, arguing that she was deemed responsible for embezzling 5 million Yuan [$725,374.00 USD]. She was accused of collaborating on this crime with Pan Lina, another defendant in her case. Pan, however, received only three years with a four-year probation. Zhang concluded that authorities used her charge to target her on account of her religious beliefs.

Xiao told a China Aid reporter that his client’s sentencing was unfair, since authorities promised that Zhang would be sentenced for only two years. Additionally, the judge who tried Zhang’s case visited her twice beforehand and encouraged her to confess, saying that Wang Yao and Tu Yulei, two others involved with Huoshi Church, both confessed and were released on probation. He also demanded that she fire Li, but she refused.

Zhang’s poem can be read in full below.

China Aid reports abuses such as those suffered by Zhang Xiuhong in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

Poem by Zhang Xiuhong

This year
I didn’t hear the sweet voice of my baby,
I didn’t embrace the wanderer come back from afar,
I didn’t see my loved one’s thin and weak figure,
I didn’t have heart-to-heart talks with my sister,
I didn’t taste the delicious food prepared by my mother-in-law,
I didn’t bask in the rays of the morning sunlight,
Or take a stroll as the sun sets.
Or ride on a high-speed train to go somewhere.

This year, the sound I often heard,
Was the slam of metal doors, sharp and piercing,
This year, the sight I often saw was hopeless eyes,
This year, the food I had every day was the unchanging “three dishes and a soup,”
This year, the farthest I went was less than 1,000 meters [approximately 3,281 feet] away,
This year, I received a staggering fine,
This year, I saw the judge of my case twice, not at the court, but where I’m being detained.

Was this a tough year for me? Painful? Lonely? Living each day like a year? Absolutely not!
This year, I was never in a dark place while waiting; the sun above the clouds shined upon me and nourished me;
This year, I was never homesick;
This year, I enjoyed the bounty of grace because my trust in the Lord who called me brought me unspeakable glory and joy;
This year, the world drifted farther away from me;
This year, my Lord drew ever closer to me;
This year, I received the fruits of the Lord’s Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control;
This year, I bathed in His love;
This year, my soul broke free from the metal bars of prison and soared in the Kingdom of God;
This year, I lived in hope and divine promises….

Your sister in Christ,

Zhang Xiuhong

ChinaAid Media Team
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