|Early Rain Covenant Church holds a
Updated at 10:35 a.m. on June 5, 2018, to correct translation error
(Chengdu, Sichuan—May 24, 2018) A Christian who was interrogated and beaten for attending a church service commemorating the 10th anniversary of a catastrophic earthquake on May 12 penned a letter describing the persecution enacted against him.
In the letter, theology student Song Enguang describes a harsh interrogation that he received during which he was questioned on his knowledge of Bible stories and struck approximately 30 times. Song was arrested for his participation in a memorial service at Early Rain Covenant Church that commemorated the estimated 69,000 people who lost their lives in a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan a decade ago. Wang Yi, the church’s pastor and the man who provided the letter, said that the church is pursuing legal action against the officers who abused Song.
A full translation of the letter can be read below.
ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Song, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.
ChinaAid note: Christians in China often refer to each other as “brother” or “sister” even if they have no blood relation.
I will share three points in the manner of a preacher:
First: My Heart is Full of Joy
On Friday (May 11), I finished making a powerpoint for our special gathering on May 12. I was looking forward to the gathering, but the Caojiaxiang Police Station called me on that day and forbade me to attend the gathering. The police deemed the meeting illegal and threatened to hold me legally responsible if I insisted on going. My excitement and joy overpowered the fear of consequence, so I attended the gathering for the sake of the Lord.
Second: A Letter from Prison
My wife Feng Xiaojing, Brother Zhu Hong and I were on a police patrol wagon (plate number 075266). There were three police in the car. The one sitting in the front passenger seat was an auxiliary police officer. A female police officer and a male police officer shared the seats in the middle. The three of us sat in the back row (which was partitioned from the rest with iron bars). There were only two seats, which were disconnected, in the back row. They asked me to sit in the middle, and I suggested that I sit in the front. I told them that I felt uncomfortable. The police in the front passenger seat refuted: “Now, you are uncomfortable. Why didn’t you listen to me when I phoned you?” Then, the police with the ID number 075266 begin to curse at me in the Sichuan dialect (“We called you numerous times yesterday, and you wouldn’t listen to us.”) My wife asked him: “Why do you curse at us?”
He was infuriated by my wife’s words, claiming that he would keep cursing at us all the way [to the police station]. He also used swear words to attack our parents. The female police officer said that by cursing at us, he was educating us. He was a police officer, so we should revere him like a parent. She also said that we deserved the cursing. She asked me if my occupation was to repair cars, and I said no.
We arrived at the Caojiaxiang Police Station. We were brought in to the interrogation chamber and were asked to put all our personal belongs, including wristwatches and rings, on the table. They searched us brutally. The police with the ID number 075266 began to cursed at me. He dragged me to the iron gate and ordered me to hold up my hands. He searched me rudely. Afterwards, he sat down on the bench. For unknown reasons, he was furious again, pointing at me with his fingers and asking me about my occupation. I told him that I worked at the 23rd floor of the Jiangxin Building. He asked me what exactly did I do, and I told him that I was a preacher. He demanded me to preach to him, and I began to talk about John 3:16. He disrupted me before I finished and pushed me. My wife said: “You can talk, but don’t use violence.”
The officer with the ID number 009008 dragged me to the corner of the room, screaming at me and instructing me to squat. The police with the ID number 075266 took away my glasses. 009008 hit my head. I began to yell, and I begged them to turn on the surveillance camera. They treated me more brutally, pushing me to a secluded interrogation room. They cursed at me loudly and pushed me around, asking me to sit on the iron chair without unlocking [my handcuffs]. Then, one of them removed the handcuffs, pushed me on the chair, and locked me up again. 009008 began to hit my head with his palms and swore at me loudly. I asked for my glasses, which they refused to give me (I had to wait for a long time for the glasses). The auxiliary police officer began to curse at me as well. 725266 began to push my head around. He walked to the door and said, “Nullify his citizen ID card.” The group of police then left the room. It took place at around 11:40, in the interrogation room.
In the afternoon, an auxiliary police officer led me to the second room on the 2nd floor to file the record. I was beaten again. There were three police officers: the female police officer who was in the car, an officer named Shi and an auxiliary police officer who took down the record.
They asked my father’s name, which I deemed irrelevant to the case and refused to answer. They said,“It’s not up to you.” 075266 began to hit my face. He hit the left side, the right side, and my chin. I felt pain. He then began to curse at me in the Sichuan dialect, which I didn’t understand. The female officer smiled. “He doesn’t seem to understand you.”
I didn’t. I looked at him. His hands and body were trembling. I told him, “I have the right to sue you.” He seemed to have realized something and changed his attitude. Officer Shi left the room after beating me. They began to question me again. I protested, “The officer hit me. Didn’t you see?”
The female police officer said, “Who hit you? We didn’t see anything.”
They also asked about my salary, and I said that it was irrelevant to the case. The female police officer said, “We have to know how much you earn. If somebody pays you a lot of money and asks you to do something illegal, would you do it?” I told her that I wouldn’t. She said,“How do you know?” I persisted in saying that I wouldn’t for the sake of my conscience and my faith. They then called their leader, a police officer with the ID number 008075. He seemed friendly at first. He said, “I’ve read the Bible. The church [baptizes via] immersion, sprinkling, and pouring. Which one do you uphold?”
I said, “Immersion.”
He replied, “You understand the Bible?”
I said. “I’ve read the Bible several times, and I don’t understand it all.”
He said, “Do you have parents?”
I said, “Yes.”
He said,“Who created you?”
I said, “My parents gave birth to me.”
He slapped me on the face and said, “God created you.”
He slapped me harder another time. “If someone slaps you on one cheek, what’s next?”
I answered: “Turn to them the other also.”
He slapped me again. “What book is this in?”
“The Book of Matthew,” I told him.
He slapped me once again. “Which chapter?”
I said, “Chapter five.”
He slapped me four times in a row and said, “The Book of Matthew, the New Testament, the 6th chapter, verses 38-42.”
He then said, “I see anger in your eyes. Christ taught you to love me. You should heap burning coals on my head.(Romans12:20) You should move me with your love.” He slapped once more. “On which day did God create humans?”
I answered: “On the sixth day.”
He slapped me two more times. “On the sixth day, with dirt.”
He said, “Can a person give birth alone?”
I said, “No.”
He slapped me four times more. “God created a woman. They ate the forbidden fruit and gave birth to humans. I see anger in your eyes. You should love me.”
He cupped my face, smiling. He repeated: “Christ taught you to love me. You shouldn’t anger me with your anger. You should move me with your love.”
He slapped me four more times. My face was numb.
He asked, “Which book is Exodus?”
I answered, “The second book of the Old Testament.”
“Who wrote it?”
I said, “Moses.”
“What’s it about?”
I said. “Moses left Egypt with the people of Israel. There is much more.”
He slapped me 10 times in a row. My face was numb, and the pain was piercing.
“They are Hebrews, the people of Israel. Moses left Egypt with them and entered Canaan. Pharaoh didn’t let them, so God punished the Egyptians with 10 plagues. The first was mild, and the second was harsh. In the 10th plague, Pharaoh’s eldest son died. That’s how they left Egypt.” He then cursed at me. “I’ve also read the Bible.”
They kept recording everything down.
My face swelled up. My cheeks hurt when I chewed.
Third: My Peace Resembles a Flowing River
“I have peace like a river” —at this moment, I began to understand Pastor Wang Yi. No! It was not Pastor Wang Yi I understood. It was the heart of Jesus Christ. I began to understand God.
Before exiting the distribution center in Qingyang District and getting into the police car, I encouraged the brothers and sisters, saying, “We are more powerful inside than we are outside. God is with you.”
After arriving at the Caojiaxiang Police Station, I was dragged to the interrogation chamber and locked on the cold iron chair. The room appeared dull and bleak, but God gave me hope, endowing me with the spirit to spread the Gospel. I spread the Gospel to the four auxiliary police officers in the interrogation chambers, discussing religion with them and telling them about my faith.
I was slapped more than 30 times on the face, and I did not fight back. Normally, I would be furious and eager to revenge, but hatred did not overtake me for even a second. I wanted to express my emotions, my thoughts, my reasons, and everything in my life.
At that moment, I was certain that my Savior existed. He is more of a Lord and a God in times of difficulties. He is the only one I can rely on. God never deserts me.
He did not save me from the devils, but He comforted me with His words and gave me power, so I could persist. When I was beaten, the scene of Christ being beaten by the soldiers was reenacted in front of me. I began to understood why the apostles began to spread the Gospel again immediately after being persecuted.
God made me understand: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Hell.” He removed my fear and placed peace in my heart.
Thank the Lord! Praise the Lord! The director, the deputy director of the police station and a police officer hit me (008075 is the director, 009008 is the deputy director). God’s love is mysterious, which we cannot fathom. I don’t hate them at all. I pity them. I beg the Lord to save them. The more brutal they are, the more I can tell how the devil took advantage of them.
After being slapped 30 times, I thought my face would swell up and look terribly, but the brothers and sisters could not even tell that I was hit. Now I understand why the clothes and sandals did not wear out during 40 years [Editor’s note: This is a reference to Deuteronomy 29:5].
I also have weaknesses.
Sunday came a little unexpectedly. I was afraid. I do not know what I was afraid of. I was just afraid. My wife Feng Xiaojing and I are still afraid.
Please pray for me!