China Aid Association
Hu Chunhong, Wang Juan, Cao Deqin, Ma Quanying, Ai Shuqin, Song Jiling, Xu Zongying, Liang Guofeng, Du Pingyuan, Xie Zexin, Wang Yanli, Tian Mingkun, Ran Xiuhong, Song Fengyu, Li Qiong, Chi Faling, Li Li, Yang Chijiao, Zhang Xiuying, Yin Li, Liu Xianzhi, Li Yingping, Meng Xicun, and Xiang Fengping.
We are evangelists and common believers of South China Church.
In the year 2001 of our Lord, great persecution befell SCC. About 3000 Christians were arrested by the police, who organized inquisitions by force upon them, forcing them into making false witnesses. There were two hearings—non-public—in which many were sentenced to life in prison and other heavy sentences.
The case was closed on October 10th, 2002. But this is not the end of the matter, to all the Christians of SCC, Christians all over China, and those across the world who delight in truth, righteousness, and law. Right now we are still making appeals for the case, however hard it is.
The following is the experience of four sisters (Liu Xianzhi, Li Yingping, Meng Xicun, and Xiang Fengping) in Shayang Labor Camp, Jingmen City, Hubei Province. The court had announced on October 10th, 2002 that they were to be released, however, the department in charge of “reeducation through labor” of Jingmen City still found them guilty of “disrupting social order by organizing and employing a cult organization”, and were sentenced them three years of hard labor.
On passing through the iron gate of Shayang Labor Camp, we were stopped by an policewoman in uniform, who demanded us to memorize the answers to three questions. The first question was, ‘Who are you?’ The answer was, ‘A laborer in the Labor Camp.’ The second question was, ‘Where are you?’ The answer was, ‘In the Labor Camp.’ The third question was, ‘What are you doing here?’ The answer was, ‘I receive my education through labor, in order to reform.'” They want us to keep in mind that we are inmates. Then they checked the stuff we had brought in. All the “contraband” stuff would be left outside. When Sister Wang Juan and Sister Wang Deqin were sent in, they brought with them a notebook, on which was written verses of Psalm 8, “O Jehovah, our Lord, How excellent is thy name in all the earth, Who hast set thy glory upon the heavens!” When Cha Jianxiu, an official on duty asked Sister Wang, “what does Jehovah mean?” She said, “He’s the God we believe in.” Hearing this, the official tore the paper into shreds. But we knew faith was not confined to a paper.
On entering the yard, we could see a white pillar of the inmates’ dorm, on which was printed in red paint “We uplift science, and go against cults. We obey the law, and lead a decent life.” We Christians suffered from the slogans, for we never admitted we were following a cult. However, all those put here for her faith was regarded as a member of a cult. But we knew in our heart that our identity as a Christian would never change, though we were in a labor camp, instead of the church.
When Sister Hu Chunhong first went to the second group, she kneeled down before the bed to pray, as usual. But this was strictly forbidden. As a result, the officials demanded her to stand by the door for hours each time, and docked her “security prize” off. (This was a kind of reward for good behavior. One security prize meant to be released one day earlier.) All she could do was to pray in her heart, that the Lord would make a way for her
At the end of 2001, more and more sisters were put here. It is written in the Scripture, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mat 18:20) So we passed notes to each other. (There were people watching us, forbidding us to talk.) When Sister Li Li first came, Sister Li Qiong asked her what she need. As it turned out, He Junrong the security personnel heard her, and demanded her to stand by the gate and recite the books. In the evening, He Junrong made Sister Li Qiong to undertake a military training and shout out slogans against cult belief. Later we simply motioned to each other, eyed each other, and passed notes, as an encouragement. We set up a prayer team. Two people would be in one team, and take turns to fast and pray. We made an outline of the subjects, and each took her share. We couldn’t pray openly, but we still kept praying in our heart.
Reading the Bible was all the more impossible. Sister Meng Xicun had asked Jiang Lili, an official on duty, to allow her to read the Bible. She said, “That’s out of the questions. It is against the rules here. What do you believe in Jesus for? To go to jail?”
In the beginning of May, 2002, Sister Wangjuan was to be released. She really wanted to talk to the fellow sisters in the workshop, but she couldn’t, for they had to work there for more than 10 hours. She planne don writing us a note. As she was still writing, Deng Xiaolan, a security personnel, and Liao Yanhua, another inmate saw it, and kicked her hard, saying, “Where do you think you are? How dare you to write down this stuff! Who are you writing to?” Sister Wang said, “To myself.” In case the other sisters would also be in trouble. As it turned out, Sister Wang was taken into the classroom, where Deng Xiaolan stripped her to frisk her. Since then, she was under strict supervision, till the day she was released.
In June, 2002, we brought some daily necessities to Sister Yin Li, who had just been sent to the second group. She wrote down some verses in a note to thank us, which was frisked out. As a result, they told an inmate to “guard” her, who stayed with her all the time, even when she was using the bathroom, washing her face, brushing her teeth, having her meal, and walking around. She was not allowed to rest till 2 a.m. The second day she still had to work as usual. If she tried to argue, they would insult her and swear at her. Li Ting, the one who “guarded” her, simply treated her as a slave. In the workshop, she would force Sister Yin to finish with her work first. Only then could Sister Yin undertake her own work. When she couldn’t stand it any longer, she complained to the officials, who were as if didn’t hear her. The security personnel and other people kept watching her was forbade her to talk to us, till the day she was released. When she looked back on the days, she said, “Home is the most precious for those away from home. Freedom is the most precious for those who are in jail. To be ‘guarded’ is the most severe form of deprivation of freedom. It is the most unbearable thing for a person longing for freedom.”
There was a rule that visitation time was limited to one hour. But ours were limited within 20 minutes. We were 1.5 meters away from our family members, and there were cops eavesdropping. They would again and again ask our family members to tell us to admit SCC was a cult. When the relatives of Sister Yang Chijiao came and brought her money, an official named Cha Jianxiu said in a cold tone, “Cult members don’t deserve this.”
One day in November 2002, Sister Xu Zongying’s father and sister came to visit her. We really wanted to write about the situation in the prison, and have it delivered to the church. As Sister Xu was about to hand it, Zhang Lihong the official on duty found it out. As a result, she was kept in the duty office to write a “paper of apology”. An official named Liu Qin ordered an urgent gathering of the first group. We stood in the classroom, while officials like Pan Jianmei and Yan Wei frisked the sisters of the church. Our clothes, shoes and socks were all taken off for them to check. They found in Sister Li Yingping an outline of the “312 questions for education in ideology”. Sister Yin Li didn’t want it to be taken away. So she said, “I lent it to her.” (She was in the same class with Sister Li.) Hearing this, Liu Qin roared at her, “Yours? And she got it? Who gave you permission to talk to each other? Cult members! Stay away!” But they found nothing else. Some inmates took this chance, and watched us in the name of the officials. They would report to the officials against us, so that their terms could be reduced. Dong Xiaoyun, Liao Yanhua, Long Lanjiao and other inmates bullied Sister Li Yingping and Sister Xiang Fengping, forcing them to clean the classroom for a month. Since then, Liu Qin would often hold talks to Sister Xu Zongying, telling her to realize what the situation was like, and separate herself from us. She handed Sister Xu a book named <I style=””mso-bidi-font-style: ” normal?>Atheism and Religion, which held an atheist point of view, saying that religion is a distorted reflection of the world, and that it was simply blindness.
In November, it was freezing cold. Storm with sand in it swept across Shayang Labor Camp. It was such a day that one could hardly open her eyes. In lunchtime, Sister Liang Guofeng (56 years old) came to get lunch, and Liu Qin, who was in charge of giving food, asked, “Are you a cult member?” She said, “No.” Liu struck the barrel containing food, and said, “No? No lunch for you then! Go stand by the door!” Liu asked Aunt Ma Quanying the same question, and received the same answer. As a result, the two of them had to stand by the door. When the dishes were all gone, Liu ordered them to get some rice, and keep standing. Half an hour later, Liu forced them to swallow the cold rice. Aunt Liang wept. Aunt Ma said, “What are you crying for? The other sisters are still young. We senior folks have to hold our ground for them.” The following days saw them laboring (cleaning the toilets, carrying human dung, plant vegetables, and water the vegetables). When they were off work, they would be kept standing by the door, till 2 a.m. After one week, Aunt Liang was sick, and Aunt Ma had a severe pain in her joints, and coughed blood. The two of them were over 50 years old. Some kindly folks tried to “talk sense” into them. Aunt Liang said in tears, “How can I say my church is a cult? I would be in jail in vain, wouldn’t I?” The prayer team prayed for them; that the Lord would save them from the trial they were in. Sister Li Qiong sent them cotton gloves, woolen socks and new padded coats, so that they wouldn’t reel so cold during the night. She also greeted them with the Lord’s words to strengthen her. A couple of days after that, Liu Qin went on business, and the punishment was called off.
In the Labor Camp, there was a meeting held every six moths, in which the inmates who were behaving well (their scores were high) were awarded a lessoning of terms of one to three months, besides the security prize. In the evaluation of the first half of the year 2003, Sister Zhang Xiuying was among the top ten. We were very happy for her, thinking that she would be released sooner for sure. As it turned out, one day in lunchtime the eleven of us (Li Lingping, Liu Xianzhi, Xiang Fengping, Meng Xicun, Chi Faling, Li Qiong, Li Li, Yang Chijiao, Tian Mingkun, Xie Zexin, and Zhang Xiuying) were called out at a short notice. They separated us from each other, and put down some questions in the blackboard. They demanded us to answer them truthfully, and those who couldn’t read would have to speak, and a security personnel would put the words down. Whether one could receive a lessoning of the terms all depended on the answers to the questions. They were as follows:
Name Home of Ancestry Age Present Address
1. When did you accept the “South China Cult Belief”? Why did you believe in it? What have you got out of it? How have it brought you benefits?
2. Have you ever spread the belief in other provinces? Where did you go?
3. Before you were sent to the Labor Camp, did you realize that you were involved in illegal actions? Is the “South China Cult Belief” illegal? Is it a cult?
4. After you were sent to the Labor Camp, did you admit that the “South China Cult Belief” is a cult? Have you acted against the law?
5. With the instructive efforts of the police, have you realized that the “South China Cult Belief” is a cult?
Answer: With the instructive efforts of the police, I know more clearly that the South China Church is not a cult. It doesn’t even fit into the cult category.
6. What were the internal publications of the “South China Cult Belief”? Have they been issued publicly?
7. Did the “South China Cult Belief” exercise a mental control on you? What are its doctrines? What attracted you most?
8. In what form did the “South China Cult” set up its organizations? What was your position in the organizations?
9. Did your family have objections when you first believed in Jesus? Who else in your family is a believer?
10. After you were sent to the Labor Camp, did you contact your family (by means of mails, phone calls or wirng money)? What is the attitude your family holds towards you now?
11. At present, do you depend on your family or other believers for a living?
12. After you were sent to the Labor Camp, how did you act in the aspects of confessing your crimes or faults, work, and obedience? Are you inclined to initiate communications with other inmates? What kind of inmates do you like to deal with?
13. What is your comment on the legal system of our country?
14. What is your opinion towards the administration of the police? Do you like to communicate with them?
We all gave the same answers, in which we denied SCC was a cult. As a result, Sister Yang Chijiao’s name was taken off the list. Li Mengxia, a policewoman on duty said to Sister Yang Chijiao and Sister Chi Faling, “You folks from SCC cult are behaving quite well in all aspects, except that you don’t admit you are with a cult. As long as you write a paper of renunciation, I assure you, all of you will receive a lessoning of terms, and your security prizes will also go up”
The eleven of us were all working in the workshop for loudspeakers. We were in the first lines of the assembly line. It was hard work; we often felt that it was beyond what we could do. But we simply kept a stiff upper lip and carried through. We felt joyful even in the trials. We were the best in studying, obedience, labor and all the other aspects. But we just wouldn’t say our church was a cult, and encouraged each other. As a result, we were abused as cult members. The second group held a training class. One could pay 600-800 RMB to learn some skills, and have the term shortened. Sister Liu Xianzhi and Sister Meng Xicun wanted to learn tailoring, so they paid 600 RMB each. But the officials insisted on their renouncing of the belief, and write a paper for it. The two sisters refused. They would prefer to stay there longer than forsaking their faith,
In December, 2003, the group provided a “special phone service”, with which the inmates could call their relatives. Sister Xiang Fengping waited for a long time for her turn to call her family. Then Liu the official came up and said, “Xiang Fengping, you are here to make the phone call too? Will you still believe after you get released?” Sister Xiang Fengping smiled and said, “Sure!” Liu replied, “Still? Then you are not allowed to use the phone! That’s for the reformed inmates! Li Cuilan (a member of a sect called ‘Narrow Gate in the Wilderness’) has admitted that she was with a cult, and wrote a paper of renunciation.” Sister Xiang Fengping thought she was only joking, and made the request again. Liu said, “I am serious! When I say no, I mean no. What you have just said has been recorded. With this we can even prolong your term here!” Sister Xiang had to return to the cell. She made the request to Liu Qin again and to a team leader named Wang Qin, but was again refused. We couldn’t understand why was such a basic right was deprived of a Christian?
On January 31st, Wang Chi the team leader called Liu Xianzhi, Xiang Fengping, Zhang Xiuying and Meng Xicun (the last ones) together, and said, “I know you had a good time here. Tomorrow you are to be released together. Even if your family members failed to pick you up, you wouldn’t be allowed to go into the same house. If you did, you’ll feel sorry.”
Each day in the labor camp was spent in trials. Our faith was being challenged every moment. We didn’t have intention for warfare, but warfare wouldn’t let us go.
We could let the security prizes drop, we could serve longer terms, but we firmly believe that what we upheld was no cult.
“China is an atheist country. Why do you have to believe in Jesus?” Doctor Yan Wei said.
“You are here in the labor camp, and you speak about ‘freedom of belief’? Religions will disappear as technology develops.” Liu Qin the official said.
“How can you say we don’t like you? I’ll like you all the more, if you were junkies!” Cha Jianxiu the official said.
“Are you still going to believe after you get home? If you did, you would be sent here again.” Doctor Liu Xiurong said.
Having served our terms, we were released one after another, under such “preaching”. All we felt was heaviness, instead of joy. We walked through the gate of the labor camp
Chi Faling, Li Li, and Li Yingping
Liu Xianzhi,Li Qiong,Meng Xicun by writing
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