In 2000, in Anshan in China’s Northeastern province of Liaoning, a group of Christians met regularly to hold service and to study the bible. The local police said that they were an evil cult, and used violence to try to force them to confess. Some of the group were sentenced to ‘reeducation through labout’ (a form of prison without trial), and others were fined.
One of the group testified in a letter that a brother, Hou Songshan, aged 51, had been cruelly punished. From 2pm on the 11th of November, when his interrogation started, his punishment also began. Ma Yi (a policeman) and others used a strip of bamboo over one metre in length and around 3cm wide to beat him on the back. It is impossible to calculate the force and frequency with which Mr Hou was beaten, but two of the strips of bamboo that were used broke into pieces. How can a man’s back stand this kind of beating? For half a month following the beating Mr Hou could not sit up out of bed. He was exhausted. He was only permitted to squat on the floor, and not allowed to sit down, or rest against anything. A spotlight was put in front of him, and it burnt Mr Hou’s eyes. When he raised his head to avoid the heat, Ma Yi and others used a bamboo strip to beat him about the head. Both his knees were burnt, and for or five large blisters appeared, each about 2cm across (which have left scars), until he went into shock.
In the bible it says: ‘and if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it: or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it’ (Corinthians 1, 12:26). Based on the testimony of our bretheren in court, we wrote an article titled ‘our understanding of the truth regarding the Li Baozhi “evil cult” case in Anshan, Liaoning Province.’ The article was published in the American Chinese Christian Association’s magazine.
Because I wrote the article, in 2003 I was sentenced to two years in prison. I also spent two months in a detention centre. I was deprived of my political rights for two years. In prison, I suffered many hardships. For the first ten days, I was not permitted to sleep. Three teams of people took turns to interrogate me. Because I went for so long without sleep, I began to have hallucinations. Some times I was so tired that I would fall asleep while sitting up, and when that happened they would hit me and pour cold water inside my clothes. When they transported me from Beijing to Zhejiang, on board the train they handcuffed me to the leg of a table. I was unable to stand, to sit, or to lie down. I was only able to crouch, and did so for twenty straight hours. In the face of this, I did not let go of my faith. Instead, my faith was made stronger.
We suffered many hardships while in prison, but outside prison our families suffered much worse hardship. After I was detained, the police forced our landlord to evict my wife, Li Shanna. For over half a year, Li Shanna had no home to return to. During the day she went to work, and at night she walked the streets. After I had been detained for over a year, Li Shanna wanted to visit me in prison, but her work unit would not let her go, and forced her to resign. Later, with the help of friends, Li Shanna found a part time job as a nurse with a very low salary (around 100 US dollars a month). My wife’s life was extremely difficult. She worried about me while I was in prison, was anxious that I wasn’t getting enough to eat, and often sent me money. Because of these difficulties, sometimes her faith became weak. Sometimes she said to God ‘we have suffered for the Lord, gone to prison. Why can’t the Lord see our sufferings?’ But she did not lose her faith, and continued to trust in God.
When I left prison, our brothers and sisters had not forgotten us. They prayed for us, and our case was written about in the United States’ Human Rights Report and the Religious Freedom Report. After I came out of prison the government constructed a building outside my front door, and installed two cameras. Every day, 24 hours a day, we are watched. Often they won’t let us leave our house. Now we are asking our fellow Christians to continue their prayers for us, to strengthen our belief. We need Jesus Christ, China needs Jesus Christ. I hope that my wife Li Shanna can be trained in theology, so that she can strengthen her reliance on God, and do better work for the Lord in future. Please pray for this.