As most of you have heard, we have been able to connect with South China Church in the last few weeks. We just want to send you an update about the current situation.
We have been informed that, so far, more than 200 of the leaders of South China Church have been arrested. Seventy have already received a sentence and have been scattered to different high-security prisons all over China. The five top leaders who were sentenced to death have been granted a retrial, and while they are waiting, their sentences have been suspended for two years. The church has been unable to find a single lawyer who would be willing to risk his/her reputation in order to defend these leaders.
Many of the younger female evangelists who were questioned by police were brutally tortured and are doing quite poorly at this time. All the homes of the arrested leaders have been searched, and all their belongings have been confiscated. The windows and doors have been
broken, and their food for the winter, as well as kitchen utensils, have all been taken away.
Those who had savings accounts in the bank had their bank books confiscated, and their money taken away. In total, hundreds of thousands of US dollars’ worth of belongings have been lost. 1000+ workers are currently without any source of income, and are unable to return to their homes.
We will add another report to this message, which describes some of the experiences of young evangelists of this church during the past months. Some of you may already have read it in the persecution report that we sent out last week. These are the most urgent prayer requests for
South China Church:
1. Pray for all of the leaders and workers who are currently imprisoned. Pray that they may have a victorious life and will be able to share the good news of the Gospel to other inmates. It is up to the Lord to decide when they will be released; their coming in and going out is entirely in his hands.
2. Pray for all the wives, husbands, children, mothers, fathers, siblings, and other relatives of South China Church workers, who are greatly affected by what is happening. Pray that the Lord would comfort them and walk with them through this time of trial.
3. Pray that, with God’s help, we will be able to locate competent and godly lawyers, who will stand up for these workers and defend them in the courts. Most likely, we will have to guarantee a source of income for the families of these lawyers, because after they have taken on this case, they will surely lose their licenses.
4. Pray for the safety of the six people who are in charge of distributing the “love gift”, which we have now started to transfer from body of Christ in the West, to these workers and their families.
Thank you very much for the donations that have started to flood into our accounts. The needs are great, and we will need hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to meet even the most basic needs of the South China Church at this time. We know that this opportunity to reach a hand to this church has been given to us by the Lord, and are fully confident that He will enable us to accomplish this mission in the near future. Let us pray together!!
The Following are three letters by three women who were forced to admit they were raped by pastor Gong Shengliang :
Testimony of Zhang Hongjuan
Dec. 10, 2001
My name is Zhang Hongjuan (Xu Tong ke), and I am 20 years old. On Aug. 14, 2001 I was arrested by officers of the Shi Pai Police Station. The police officers interrogated me with severe torture before sending me to the Detention Center of Zhong Xiang Police Department. At this Detention Center they tortured me further. They put shackles on my hands and feet, and used electric clubs to touch my whole body, especially my chest.
I had no strength to resist such assaults, so I called them “rogues.” It enraged them to more violent acts. They forcefully unbuttoned my shirt, tearing off one button, and touched every spot of my chest with the electric club. I yelled at the top of my voice, but they moved the club into my mouth to stop me from crying. “It’s useless to call for help. No one will come. You’re in the hands of the Communist Party. The Party has given us these electric clubs, shackles, and fetters for the very purpose of dealing with you!”
One of the men pulled at his pants and threatened: “When I’m angry, I will take off your clothes and give you a good beating. You said we shouldn’t unbutton your shirt? I won’t be held accountable even if I strip you naked and strike you hard.” I was one of many people tortured in this way, and my torture was lighter than theirs. I don’t know why they tortured me so cruelly.
The following is my testimony of the greater humiliation and torture suffered by my fellow inmates. I will describe what I saw and heard in person.
Fengjiu, who is only 15 years old, also had her chest, hands and feet touched and injured by their electric club. When Li Li (Tongjin) saw the blisters on Fengjiu’s body, she exclaimed that the policemen had violated her human rights. The policemen overhead her and took note of it. When it was Li Li’s turn to be interrogated, they sneered: “So you mentioned human rights. I will treat you as subhuman and give you no human rights. Are you still a human?”
With these words they came up to her and tore at her blouse. She held it tight, so they abused her with these words: “You talked of holiness and purity. But you’re a sham! Tell us the truth: How many times have you slept with your teacher [referring to] Gong Shengliang]?”
Li Li flew into a rage: “You slanderers!” she shouted and demanded: “Let’s go to a hospital to check it out!” Hearing this challenging statement, they dared not push this any further, yet they still would not let her go. They continued to torment her by inserting the electric club underneath her shirt to burn her chest and her lower parts, pulling off her hair by handfuls from her head, and splashing water unto her face. For a whole day, a whole night and yet another whole morning she was continuously tortured. The police spared no means of torture to get information from us.
Wang Lan, nearly beaten to death, had passed out several times. Seeing that she couldn’t eat anything, the police insisted that she was pregnant by having sexual intercourse with the teacher [Gong Shengliang], whom they wanted to put to death.
Believing they had got hold of some material evidence against Gong, they brought Wang Lan to a hospital for a pregnancy test, but they were disappointed by the result. Tong Cuijuan underwent the same torture. They beat her up, hoping for a confession that she had slept with her teacher [Gong Shengliang].
When they used electric clubs to touch her breasts, anger gave her courage to call them “base.” They unbuttoned all but two buttons on her shirt and pulled it down. Her chest was exposed for their humiliation. Later they announced: “A 3-year sentence will be unfair for Tonghao (Cuijuan) because she cooperated with us very satisfactorily.” They said this as if they had got what they had wanted from Tonghao.
Chi Faling, too, had her chest and lower parts touched by electric clubs. The police tortured us in this ruthless manner for no other purpose but to get “verbal and material evidence” to accuse and incriminate our teacher [Gong Shengliang].
Mother (meaning the Church), Your daughter is missing you very much. At the same time, I’m also worrying about my beloved teacher whose life is in danger.
Since the evening of August 13 when Yuan and I were arrested, several months have passed and I have been praying in my heart: Lord Jesus, I want you to come. On the evening of August 14th, Yuan and I were taken to Zhong Xiang detention house where our hands were tied behind our backs with rope. At that time more than ten brothers and sisters were arrested.
The interrogation started on August 15th and those who had been interrogated were taken to another cell. On the evening of 16th (when it was almost midnight), they [the police] forgot to put those who had been interrogated to another cell, so they took Song Fengju to our cell. Song had been interrogated for a whole day and we noticed that she was very down. Under the pressure of our persistent request, she started to tell us a little bit of what had happened to her.
She said that she was beaten as soon as she was taken there. They stick an iron bar like a loaded gun into her shirt and pressed it against her chest. Since she was tied with her feet to the floor, she couldn’t do anything. When we unbuttoned her shirt, we could see blisters as big as a pea on her chest and breasts. These blisters were obviously burn marks, which were also on her arms and feet. As sisters, we felt so insulted to see the burn marks on her chest.
On August 17th, Yuan and Hao were taken away for interrogation. They were questioned in different small rooms that were used as temporary interrogation rooms. As soon as they were taken into the rooms, the three interrogators shut both windows and doors. They started to persuade them to talk. When they found that didn’t work, they hit their mouths and bodies with an electric bar. Yuan cried with pain. The police began to strike her right chest with the electric bar. Yuan tried very hard to protect herself by folding her arms around her chest. They grasped her hair and poked her back and the inner part of her upper legs, yelling: “Talk! If you don’t talk, I will strip you completely and beat you. This is not considered as raping but just coping with people like you.”
With that threat, they grasped the front part of her shirt and tried to pull it down. Yuan was trying hard to protect herself but she couldn’t move because her feet were tied to the floor. Another policeman who was taking notes kicked her knees. She was interrogated like that until midnight when she was taken back to the cell. But she was told to get her clothes and bowl and then she
was taken to the other cell (Hao was also taken away in this way). On the morning of August 18th, Bai and I were taken out for interrogation. I was told to sit in a bed against to the wall as soon as I walked in. Less than ten minutes later I heard some cursing and beating in the next room. Soon my feet were shackled. A person in charge of religions came in and told me: “The Communist Party allows you to believe in God, but that doesn’t mean that the Party believes in God.”
His words made me realize that it was naïve to try to reason with them. What’s the point to talk with them since we are prisoners on death row! It is impossible to have a religious court in China.
Less than half an hour after the interrogation, they began to beat me and tried to pull out my hair. A younger interrogator grasped the front part of my shirt, shouting: “Speak out fast: how many times did you sleep with your teacher? Don’t pretend to be a virgin. Why do you button up? I could strip you to see how much of a virgin you are.” I held my shirt tight and wouldn’t allow them to tear it apart. However a button was torn away. This interrogator began to poke my chest with an electric bar that had just been charged. I tried to block it with my hand while shouting for help. So he tried to stop me by shocking my mouth with the bar. He threatened to tie my hands behind my back if I kept stopping him.
When he saw that I was trying to protect my chest, he poked my legs with the bar and several times the bar almost touch my private part. He also beat me on my calves. I felt so painful that I just wanted to die at that time. I tried to protect my legs, my chest and the lower part of my body. So he hit me on the back and forced me to sit straight, then he hit my chest and legs. I thought that I couldn’t take it any longer. It was already late at night and I was all by myself. Then an interrogator came in with a bare chest and shorts. I made up my mind that if he stripped off my clothes, I would die. Since I was determined to die, I didn’t try so hard to protect myself when he pushed the electric bar onto my chest. These interrogators were probably exhausted, and they stopped beating me.
It was already 2:00 am. By 4:00 am they kept questioning me until I gave them a phone number. They let me rest a little bit because a new day was coming. After the dawn, they started the interrogation again but didn’t beat me this time because my chest was already covered with bruises from so much beating. There is a scar on my left breast. Whenever I see it I feel so insulted and sad. However, compared with what the teacher and other sisters and brothers had gone through, my suffering is almost next to nothing. Dear mother, please pray for us more. Yuan doesn’t want her family to visit her. She got the money and clothes her family sent. Don’t worry about us.
Immanuel Li Tongjin
Your daughter has left home for several months and I’ve been missing you very much. A few words cannot express my feelings.
I was arrested together with Ge on the bus and we were taken to the Jinmen Police School at about 4:00 pm to be interrogated. I was on the lower floor while Ge was taken to the upper floor. They asked me about my name and address but I didn’t say anything because they had known our names, addresses and when they arrested us. So they hit my mouth and whipped me with a belt. They forced me to kneel on the floor facing the wall to think until about 7:00 pm. During that time, I heard the noise of fetters now and then (Gen was shackled at that time). She was probably being beaten, I thought.
Since they lacked personnel, I was taken to the detention place but Ge was kept there. After that, I was interrogated twice at the Jinmen Number One Detention house. Every time, they cuffed my hands behind my back and kicked me the whole time. From October 13 to 14, since they hadn’t got much from me, and also for their convenience, they took me to another place to question me.
The first time, they took me to the Police School where I was interrogated for two whole days. They were very cruel. At daytime they questioned me, and in the afternoon I was locked there. The interrogation officially started in the evening. As soon as I entered the interrogation room, a thirty-year-old man shouted: “He (referring to the one who took notes) is off today. This is my part, and I’m in charge of beating.” Upon that he hit my leg with force.
In the evening they started asking me questions. However, before I got a chance to reply, they said: “Let’s conquer her first.” They handcuffed my hands behind my back. That torture was not enough for them. They put a number of books between my back and my hands and tightened the handcuffs. When they saw that I couldn’t take it any longer, they loosed the handcuffs. However they put more books within five minutes and repeated this torture more than ten times.
They were still not satisfied with that, so they tied me up with ropes as if I was going to be shot. I told them that they were using torture to force me to talk. They said that they could kill me without causing any problem. What could happen to us if we beat a person to death in Zhong Xiang? They did not only torture, but also insulted me. A man of thirty years old tied my hair and gave me make up (I refused that). He also poured water on my face many times during interrogation , and pressed hard on my shoulder saying that he was giving me a message. When I cried, they threatened to take my socks off to push them into my mouth. My suffering was not so bad compared with the other people who were also locked up with me.
In Shayang Detention house, Yue’s fingers were turning back because the police beat her fingers with handcuffs and her hair was almost all pulled off. Yue was locked up in Jinmen Detention Center. On October 9th and 10th Yue was taken to the Police School to be interrogated, where she suffered more beating. Her hands were tied behind her back by handcuffs and a beer bottle was put between her back and hands.
The policemen beat her. When they were tired of beating her with their hands, they grasped a thick stick to hit her legs. The stick broke into two pieces. They got on her legs with their knees. When she returned to the detention house, her legs were so swollen that she could not get into bed or stretch out. All the tortures that the sisters and brothers had endured in Jinmen cannot be described by words. OK, time is up and I’ll stop here. Please take care of yourself.
(bloody finger print)
December 16, 2001