China Aid’s ministry is unique among China-focused organizations because, in addition to providing training and financial support to the persecuted faithful and advocating on their behalf, we also support their legal defense. I want to tell you about some of the exciting results of our legal defense efforts.
In the past ten years, you have enabled China Aid to support about 1,000 persecuted faithful. This year we funded 25 cases, many of which affect multiple individuals. At huge security and political risk to themselves, our associated lawyers traveled thousands of miles across China, filing legal challenges (including requests for administrative review and administrative law suits), providing criminal defense, and even filing applications to stage public protests.
People often ask whether these legal actions are successful. After all, since China is still ruled by the Communist party, judicial independence does not exist; how can these legal challenges succeed? It is true that because of its totalitarian political structure, China is still far from being a country ruled by law. For this reason, we actually lose most of these cases in the conventional sense. However, if you surveyed those who were defended, they will tell you our success rate is more than 100%.
On July 29, 2012, Pastor Jin Yongsheng, a house church leader in Inner Mongolia, and 24 others believers including his wife and two daughters, were providing health education to the public when local authorities intervened. Pastor Jin was viciously man-handled, beaten, and injured, then fined and sentenced to 15 days administrative detention. The authorities claimed that pastor Jin “was engaged in proselytizing in the name of rendering medical service by measuring people’s blood pressure.” The authorities also raided his church and confiscated many items of church property, including Sunday offerings. (Please read our detailed online report, dated August 22.) China Aid sent a Christian lawyer to help Pastor Jin. The lawyer submitted a request for administrative review in accordance with Chinese law. The government denied the request. We lost the first round.
But China Aid continued to support Pastor Jin. The lawyer filed an administrative lawsuit against the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials for violating the law and failing to protect citizens’ religious freedom. In November, Pastor Jin informed us that, after the media exposure resulting from China Aid’s reports and the lawyer’s legal defense work, his church had encountered significantly less persecution. Moreover, provincial and municipal PSB officers made a trip to his home, apologizing for violating the religious rights of Pastor Jin and his house church. They even returned 12,000 RMB (about $2000 US) that was confiscated in the raid!
This story effectively demonstrates, I think, why the conventional way of measuring success might not apply in China. But this alone does not explain why I said our success rate is more than 100%. There is more.
In a bold step toward building up goodwill and trust with the PSB and local government, Pastor Jin decided to withdraw the pending administrative lawsuit against the PSB. As Pastor Jin told me, the biblical teaching from St. Paul is that believers ought to “bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” (Romans 12:14.)
Pastor Jin and his church have been greatly encouraged by this battle and now have much more freedom to worship both in their village and in the surrounding area. Even more importantly, the persecutors now understand that Pastor Jin is not alone, that harassing him means harassing his Christian “family” all around the world. That’s what I call “more than 100% success!”
Thank you always for your encouragement! Happy New Year!
persecuted Chinese “Daniels of the Year”
In a recorded video released to the international media through China Aid, blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, now studying law at New York University, called on incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping to reform the Chinese political and legal system or risk a violent transition. In the moving, 10-minute video, Chen also advised his countrymen not to “expect an enlightened ruler to take the initiative and bestow [freedom]” and not to “hope for upright officials to defend your rights for you.” To the contrary, Chen said, “[o]ur fate is actually in our own hands.”
WORLD Magazine, in its annual feature issue highlighting an individual or group that has stood up for the light in a dark world, named persecuted Chinese Christians as its 2012 “Daniels of the Year.” The magazine highlighted several Chinese lawyers and intellectuals who have been persecuted by the Chinese government, including Gao Zhisheng, Liu Xianbin, and Guo Quan. It also discussed China Aid’s role in working for the release of these men and supporting their families during their continued imprisonment.
Home for Christmas!
Wusiman Yiming is the leader of a Uyghur house church in the far western region of Xinjiang. Pastor Wusiman served a two-year sentence in a labor camp from 2007-2009 for “divulging state secrets;” this was the same case in which fellow Uyghur house church leader Alimujiang Ymiti was sentenced to 15 years in prison. (Learn more about Pastor Alimujiang’s case at China Aid’s website, www.frealim.com)
Because of continuing official harassment, Pastor Wusiman was recently forced to stop pastoring his church and go into business. In early November, he received a two-year prison sentence for “illegal business management.”
After China Aid publicized the sentencing of Pastor Wusiman and hired a lawyer to defend him, Pastor Wusiman’s sentence was suspended for three years and he was released from jail. Today he is back home with his family and they were able to celebrate Christmas together!
Download ChinaAid January 2013 Newsletter in PDF: