(Beijing—March 7, 2016) The lead pastor of Shouwang Church in Beijing, who is currently under house arrest, released a letter of prayer on March 1 for Zhang Kai, a prominent human rights lawyer currently under criminal detention.
Pastor Jin Tianming has been supervised by three shifts of police, 24 hours a day, for the last four years, after his church as long been persecuted by authorities. Despite his lack of personal freedom, Jin has remained active in Christian groups both in China and abroad. His letter urges Christians to pray that “the Lord [brings Zhang Kai] back to his family and back among us.” The full translation can be found below.
Zhang, who was taken into police custody in August 2015, was officially criminally detained on Feb. 26, following a six-month period under “residential surveillance in a designated location,” the Chinese government’s official name for a “black jail.” Zhang is charged with “endangering state security” and “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” after he represented the cases of more than 100 churches in Wenzhou facing demolition of their crosses.
China Aid reports on the situations of dissidents such as Jin and Zhang in order to promote religious freedom and rule of law throughout China. Those wishing to get involved can join the Free Zhang Kai campaign to help raise awareness of his plight.
Over the past six months, we have been praying for our Christian brother, lawyer Zhang Kai, who was put under residential surveillance in a designated location for helping churches in Wenzhou fight for their legal rights during the events of the cross demolitions. Unexpectedly, after six months, what we received after this long wait turned out to be a report by Wenzhou official media about the “Zhang Kai case,” followed by news that Zhang Kai had been criminally detained. Our feelings in this matter became heavy and complicated.
Some Christian brothers and sisters’ hearts tightened after they learned that Zhang Kai and other lawyers received an attorney’s fee. They felt a little uneasy, for they thought it was a large amount of money. I believe Zhang Kai and the other lawyers took a big risk to fight for the legal rights of the Wenzhou churches. They didn’t try to scam them, but provided professional service, as is their job. For that job, they should be paid, as the Bible says, “the worker deserves his wages,” and “don’t muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain” [1 Timothy 5:18]. Moreover, what they pay [in return] is not only their professional knowledge, but also their entire careers and personal freedoms. We know, even as Christians, sometimes there is still a temptation toward fame and fortune, but as far as the true Christian is concerned, fame and fortune are nothing to those who have died to the world. Our concept of money is supposed to be established upon the basis of the truth, because the truth gives us freedom regarding money.
Some of our brothers and sisters are very sensitive to “political conscience,” and when they heard Zhang Kai had overseas contacts, those consciences were uneasy at once. Is it a crime to contact those overseas or be funded by those overseas? May the Lord free us from such political hypersensitivity. For if our heart is so firmly under the jurisdiction of the State and the political system, where there will be humanitarian aid that crosses borders? How can we assume the great commission of the Lord to preach the gospel to the people on the earth and to “make disciples of all nations” [Matthew 28:19]?
We understand when we see our brothers confessing on TV that our hearts are extremely sad. We can only pray for the mercy of Lord! We share in the flesh and the blood together. We are all weak originally, and no one can stand in fiery trial by himself. The Bible says: “Remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” [Hebrews 13:3]. We should not judge, but pray for our brothers. Pray for our Lord’s words to succeed in our brother’s body: “To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand” [Romans 14:4].
What Zhang Kai did for the Wenzhou churches during the cross demolitions will not be forgotten just because of his confession of “mistakes” and “guilt.” When Wenzhou churches faced cross demolitions, it was our brother that took great risks and came forward to help fight for our rights and carry our protests against cross demolitions to the government. May our Lord remember Zhang Kai’s devotion and effort.
For the past six months, we have known nothing of where the brother Zhang Kai was or what he had suffered. We have no way to confirm whether or not he was tortured for a confession and was weak to compromise on TV. But here, however, we ask that the Lord have mercy on His suffering child—our brother. May He touch the traumatized body and soul with His nail-pierced hands. May He listen to the moan and cry deep in the heart through tough times, through hardship, injustice, pain and struggle. [We pray] that he can be comforted by Your presence, Lord, in those days when he can no longer distinguish day from night.
Just as the Lord came to the Sea of Tiberias [Sea of Galilee] then, Lord, starting today, we pray You come to seas of bitterness of our brothers who are suffering. May Your love awaken our brother’s heart, which loves You. May it awaken his soul and lead him out of this abyss in life, in the valley of the shadow of death, so that our brothers might follow You in the holy light, to serve You with love and justice.
Brothers and sisters, let us once again put our dear brother Zhang Kai in the hands of our Lord, and look to Him respectfully. Let’s pray for him and ask the Lord to bring him back to his family and back among us.