China Aid Association (Dec. 21, 2010)
(Editor’s Note: Wang Dao is head pastor of the Liangren Church in the southern Chinese city of Guangdong, Guangzhou province. Since its founding in 2005, Liangren Church has been the target of much official harassment and persecution. This appeal was written by Pastor Wang on Dec. 16, at which time Fan Yafeng had been in illegal police detention for a week.)
Dr. Fan Yafeng is far away in the capital city of Beijing. In 2008, after the Liangren Church was illegally ordered by authorities to disband because of its work in helping the Sichuan earthquake relief efforts, I got his phone number. When I was apprehended by the Domestic Security Department this year, his Shengshan Association of Human Rights Attorneys worked relentlessly to get me out of prison. That’s why I could be released on bail pending trial. Regrettably, I’ve not yet had the chance to meet him.
In the past few years, wherever there is injustice—whether it be the Cai Zhuohua case in Beijing, the Xiaoshan case in Hangzhou, the Alimujiang case in Xinjiang, the Linfen church case or our Liangren church case in Guangzhou—there will appear signs of the activities of Christian human rights lawyers. These lawyers are angels to the persecuted house churches and other disadvantaged social groups, and Brother Fan is their archangel! That’s why he has infuriated the evil forces! I was told straight from the mouths of officers of the Domestic Security Department that Brother Fan Yafeng has long been a thorn in their flesh and their hatred for him his bone-deep.
Brother Fan provided me free professional legal assistance, and I benefited from the lawyers’ sacrifice and labors. They are my benefactors, and never in this life or in this world will I be able to repay them for their sacred love. I learned that Brother Fan had recently been imprisoned by evil forces and “might not be released.” From a human perspective, what he’s been through lately should be called “The Tragedy of Fan Yafeng”: first, he lost his secure, government job at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and then he was put behind bars, his church was closed down and his home was searched, causing his family to scatter. From the perspective of a Chinese, I feel totally helpless seeing a Doctor of Law and the head of Christian Human Rights Lawyers of China, who has traveled all over the place seeking redress for people’s grievances, ending up in such difficulties himself. This is really the biggest joke in the world! It makes a person believe that darkness is in power and that there is no way out whatsoever. As I was thinking about all this, I was also praying, and I couldn’t help breaking into violent lamentations right in front of the brothers and sisters….
I am really insignificant and lowly. What could I possibly do for this beloved brother who has lost his freedom? Just as a low-ranking officer at a local police station once kindly advised me: “Don’t fight these officers of the Domestic Security Department. Doing so is just like hitting a stone with eggs!” Yes, I may be a tiny little egg, maybe not even a chicken egg, maybe a quail egg more accurately describes my strength. Nevertheless, I will still use this teeny, puny but prophetic sound to say to such an evil force: “The Lord rebuke you!”
Just then, a historical testimony from the book Extreme Devotion came to my mind: When Romanian poet Constantin Ioanid wrote the poem “God Exists,” he could not have known the enormous significance his words would have on Romanian history.
One night in 1989, a group of Christians protested in the town of Timisoara. The reason was that a bishop who had become a puppet of the Communists had fired the reformist Pastor Tokes for faithfully preaching the Word of God. On the day Pastor Tokes was to leave his home and church, the Christians surrounded his house to prevent the police from evicting him. Soon, the crowd grew bigger and bigger, and the army was called in to suppress them. The brutal soldiers began shooting, and many Christians were killed or wounded. Then an amazing thing happened: the entire crowd of Christians knelt down and prayed and stopped resisting the soldiers. The shocked soldiers were overwhelmed by what was happening before their very eyes and refused to shoot anymore.
Meanwhile, the whole town had gathered, and a local pastor addressed the crowd from the balcony of the Opera House. He recited Brother Ioanid’s poem, and the whole crowd began shouting, “God exists! God exists!” Those who knew the music composed for the words began to sing: “God exists! God exists!” Soon thousands were singing it again and again. The poem opened the way for the Romanian revolution.
Other demonstrations spontaneously broke out in quick succession in different cities all across Romania. In one protest, thirteen children formed a human barrier to keep the soldiers from advancing on the crowd. When the soldiers began to advance anyway, the children knelt on the ground, praying and shouting, “Don’t kill us.” But the diabolical soldiers ignored the pleas of these innocent children and began shooting. Still the children did not retreat. They just kept begging, “Don’t kill us.” A memorial of the revolution has been erected at the site where the children were killed.
There’s a saying that’s widespread in Romania that it was actually angels who orchestrated the start of the revolution, by surrounding the children and giving them the divine courage they needed to stand in the face of evil.
In every town, tanks and troops were called out to put down the uprisings, but what happened was that the soldiers succumbed to the peaceful crowds. When two Christian preachers atop tanks in the town of Sibiu asked everyone to kneel for prayer, soldiers and officers—who were just as sick of the government’s tyranny as the people were—switched sides and joined in with the crowd. Thus, it soon became impossible to suppress the uprising, and the dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, and his wife were eventually executed by the people.
It was the martyrdom of 13 little children that ultimately vanquished decades of tyrannical oppression of the country by the Communist Party. Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) When we become as pure as children in our faith, we will sincerely desire to accomplish the mission that Christ sets before us. These children seized upon a rare opportunity and made the most of it. Although their ferocious executioners did not heed the piteous pleas of these children for their lives, their holy mission was not thwarted because of this. There is no circumstance or factor that can threaten our faithful execution of God’s will!
For the sake of my faith, I’m willing to be loyal to the Lord unto death as these children were, because Brother Fan and his human rights lawyers have already set an example for me.
“When the people no longer fear death, how can the authorities frighten them?”
History sometimes has some amazing coincidences, but the course of history is also determined because God is in control of history. Revolution is actually a way to bring about a resurgence of an ancient idea by instilling it with an entirely new belief. Truth, including self-explanatory universal ideas such as the rule of law, righteousness, civil rights, democracy and freedom, individuals living a life of dignity and even “God exists,” will not change because of oppression. They may go “underground” for a period of time, but the existence of God is indisputable. If God really did not exist, then evil forces would have their way and the words of God that “vengeance is mine, I will repay” would have been said in vain. However, God not only does truly exist, “For He looked down from His holy height; From heaven the LORD gazed upon the earth, To hear the groaning of the prisoner, To set free those who were doomed to death.” (Psalm 102 19:20) The LORD sat as King at the flood; Yes, the LORD sits as King forever.
“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32) A spiritual revolution is one that makes people return to the simple and direct truth that God exists, and all revolutions start with a revelation from God about truth. We all need courage, persistence and endurance. Let’s revive our faith through this basic, powerful idea of “God exists” that can change one’s life. When we and other Christians live our lives with faith in God, we become a part of this faith revolution. “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew: 18:3)
Sons and daughters of God, though we have not achieved anything yet, you can at least enter your closets, shut the door and, like the believers in Acts 12:12, urgently and silently pray for the imprisoned Peter. When the voices of Christians praying from every corner of the earth mingle together, it will be like a rope that no one can break! The track record of 2000 years of church history has proven that this spiritual force is invincible!
I have just learned from Boxun.com that Brother Fan has been fasting and praying for 50 days. Starting from tomorrow, I will partake of his hardships and tribulations and join him in fasting and praying. This is not only for him, but also for me to repent of my weak faith. I hope more members of the body of Christ will launch a movement of spiritual awakening through prayers. Prayer is action! This could become an opportunity for China to go from darkness into light!
Finally, I, Wang Dao, ask you to help Brother Fan Yafeng, his wife and his young son! Show care for them! Pray for him. Do your best to forward and spread this news to more members of the body Christ who are still in the dark because of the information blockade.