|Pastor Gu “Joseph” Yuese|
Reported by Qiao Nong in Chinese. Translated by Carolyn Song. Written in English by Brynne Lawrence.
(Hangzhou, Zhejiang—Feb. 16, 2016) A pastor imprisoned on embezzlement charges in China’s coastal Zhejiang released a letter via his lawyer that contained a message to the members of his church on Feb. 4.
Gu “Joseph” Yuese, the chairman of the provincial China Christian Council (CCC), was criminally detained on Jan. 29 and later arrested on charges of “embezzling 10 million Yuan (U.S. $1.6 million) in funds” on Feb. 6. Preceding this incident, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and CCC ousted Gu from his position as senior pastor of China’s largest government-backed church, Chongyi Church, on Jan. 18. Many Christians speculate that these actions are tied to Gu’s public advocacy against the ongoing cross removal campaign.
According to China Aid President Bob Fu, Gu is the highest-ranked religious official to be taken into police custody since the Cultural Revolution.
In the message, Gu conveys New Year’s greetings to his fellow Christians and asks that they support Zhang Zhongcheng, the senior pastor appointed by the TSPM and CCC to replace him, saying, “I believe that God can bless Pastor Zhang Zhongcheng by improving upon Chongyi Church, which is the Lord’s church!”
He also stated his intent to cooperate with the authorities’ investigation and asked that Christians pray rather than coordinate protests or inquire after the situation. Some have said that they believe Gu was forced to write the letter.
Translations of the letter and Gu’s criminal detention and arrest notices can be read in full below.
China Aid reports stories such as Gu’s so as to expose religious freedom abuses and promote freedom of religion and rule of law in China.
Pastor Gu: Very well. I’ll say three things:
First, a peaceful New Year to my brothers and sisters in the Lord! A new year has begun; I hope you keep adhering to the guidance of the Bible in the year to come and set sail into deep waters [Editor’s Note: “Set sail into deep waters” is a metaphor that means to deepen one’s relationship with God]. The spiritual life needs to be refined by fire [Editor’s Note: “Refined by fire” is a phrase used to describe God changing lives]! I have a deep, lively affection for Chongyi Church, and I regard it as the home of my spiritual life as I make an effort to look after and shepherd it. Chongyi Church belongs to God and the believers; it is not Pastor Gu’s.
Second, brothers and sisters, please support Pastor Zhang Zhongcheng’s work the same way you supported me. I believe that God can bless Pastor Zhang Zhongcheng by improving upon Chongyi Church, which is the Lord’s church! May God be glorified and people profit! I am doing well in here, enjoying the company of God and bathing in his blessings. I am tired, but, in here, I have more time to pray for you and for the guidance of God in the years to come.
Third, I believe this investigation is for my own benefit. Please have faith in our government and judicial department. They will do their work rigorously, abiding by the laws and unearthing the truth with impartiality, justice, and public transparency. They will correct any mistakes, if any have been made, and guard against them if none were committed. Instead of assembling and inquiring, please pray! I think this investigation is advantageous for when I am before the judgment seat of God and an account [of my life] is handed over [Editor’s Note: See 2 Corinthians 5:10.]; therefore, I should cooperate!
Gu “Joseph” Yuese
Feb. 4, 2016
Defending counsel: Lawyer Xiangyang He, Lawyer Bingbing Xie
In accordance with Article 80 of the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, our bureau criminally detained Gu Yuese at 4:00 p.m. on Jan. 28, 2016, on suspicion of embezzling funds. He is now detained at the Hangzhou Municipal Detention Center.
Detention center address: 36 Yunxi Road, Renhe Town, Yuhang District, Hangzhou
Gu Yuese’s relatives:
After receiving approval from the Hangzhou Municipal People’s Procuratorate, our bureau apprehended Gu Yuese at 5:00 p.m. on Feb. 6, 2016, on suspicion of embezzling funds. He is now detained at the Hangzhou Municipal Detention Center.
Address of detention center: 36 Yunxi Road (Renhe Division), Renhe town, Yuhang District, Hangzhou