Zhang Cuijuan talks to her husband
before a pre-trial meeting on
Aug. 27, 2014. (Photo courtesy of
By Rachel Ritchie
(Nanle County, Henan–June 2, 2015) A Christian from the Nanle County Christian Church in China’s central Henan province was released on Sunday after serving a 1 1/2 year prison sentence for a disruption charge petitioning higher authorities in Beijing with other church members in November 2013.
Zhang Cuijuan, Nanle County Christian Church Pastor Zhang Shaojie’s sister, was released after serving her full, 18-month sentence for “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order.” Zhang Cuijuan was taken into custody in mid-November 2013 along with her brother and 20 other church members.
Persecution against the church was triggered by groups of church members traveling to Beijing to petition authorities there about a land dispute between the church and the Nanle County Government.
At this time, only Pastor Zhang Shaojie remains in prison after being sentenced to 12 years for “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” and a fabricated fraud charge.
Zhang Cuijuan released the following letter with help from her niece, Pastor Zhang Shaojie’s youngest daughter, Zhang “Shanshan” Lingxin:
I am Zhang Cuijian, one of the Nanle County Christian Church members detained in 2013. When my brother was kidnapped, I went with other church members to the public security bureau for information about his detention. Unexpectedly, I became the target of arrest, as well as more than a dozen other church members. We became prisoners who were unprepared and innocent. The prison was hell on earth; no other words can describe it.
In prison, I was very grateful. I truly felt that God was with me, even though I suffered punishment in prison. I had a thankful heart; I had joy from God. I deeply know my true and living God. While my body suffered, my heart was free. God let me learn different life lessons. I know that the more persecution I endure, the greater the blessing.
I didn’t know until my release that I was the first person out of our church to have an opportunity to see a lawyer. I knew from relatives and church members that there were many lawyers and reporters rushing to Nanle County to help us who then were detained, beaten and robbed. I am deeply pained about this! The Nanle County Government keeps bragging to local citizens that they can beat lawyers and reporters. Why didn’t the Nanle County Government go through a judicial process instead of dishonest means?
I couldn’t hold back my tears when I heard there were a lot of Christians in China and abroad who were concerned and praying for me. I was so shocked when I got the news that my lawyer, Chang Boyang, had also been detained because he represented my case and other human rights cases like it. Thank God he has been released.
I really appreciate all the Christians in China and overseas who were concerned about my case — some I know, some I don’t. A special thanks to China Aid for their deep concern, which minimized the severity of damage to the Nanle County Christian Church. May the Lord bless you, and may His grace and peace be with you. Amen.