CHINA: Pastor Zhang’s sister released.

 

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NEWS UPDATE:

Thank God for the release of Chinese Christian Zhang Cuijuan, sister of imprisoned Pastor Zhang Shaojie of Nanle County Christian Church in central Henan province. Zhang Cuijuan was released after serving an 18-month sentence for ‘gathering a crowd to disrupt public order’. She was taken into custody along with her brother and 20 other church members in November 2013; the only church member still detained is Pastor Zhang (Prayer Alert, July 8), who is serving a 12-year sentence for ‘disrupting public order’ and ‘fraud’. (Source: China Aid)

Chinese officials are now threatening to demolish Nanle County Christian Church’s Central Hall in Henan province. Church members believe this could happen ‘imminently’, while two key leaders, Fan Ruizhen and Pastor Zhang Shaojie are detained. The church was officially listed as ‘condemned’ in December 2013 and again this April. Please pray that officials will not carry out their demolition threats and will end their persecution of this congregation and its leadership. (Source: China Aid)

NEWS UPDATE:
Release partner China Aid reports that the youngest daughter of imprisoned pastor Zhang Shaojie in Henan province has also been detained, apparently to stop her campaigning for his release. Zhang ‘Shanshan’ Lingxin, whose father leads the Nanle County Christian Church in Henan province, was arrested on November 5 and is thought to be held in a hotel, along with Fan Ruizhen, a leader from her church, and her aunt. Pastor Zhang is serving a 12-year sentence for ‘fraud’ and ‘gathering a crowd to disrupt public order’. Officials are now occupying Pastor Zhang’s family home, having threatened to auction it off (Prayer Alert, November 5). Please continue to pray for the release of all Nanle County Christian Church members. (Source: China Aid)

Chinese officials in Henan have issued a public notice stating their intention to auction off the home of imprisoned pastor Zhang Shaojie, which would leave his family homeless. The authorities are responding to Pastor Zhang’s failure to pay a fine of £70,000, which was in addition to his 12-year prison sentence, for ‘fraud’ and ‘gathering a crowd to disrupt public order’. Pastor Zhang leads the Nanle County Christian Church. Pray that officials will not carry out this threat and ask God to protect his family, including his disabled wife. (Source: China Aid)

 

CHINA: Pastor Zhang Shaojie given 12-year sentence

Pastor Zhang Shaojie (49), a leader in the government-approved Three-Self church, has been sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment. The long sentence was handed down on 4 July by a court in Henan province in central China. Pastor Zhang’s wife and oldest daughter were allowed in the courtroom during the sentencing hearing.

Pastor Zhang was convicted of fraud and “gathering crowds to disturb public order”. Friends and supporters said they were shocked by the severity of the sentence. “I strongly believe Zhang Shaojie is innocent. This is a total set-up by the local government,” said Liu Weiguo, a rights lawyer who has worked with the pastor in the past.

Mr Liu said the pastor’s treatment was primarily the result of a campaign against Christianity by local authorities in Henan, a province with one of China’s largest Christian communities. The lawyer said economic issues were also involved, claiming that authorities wanted to take control of land belonging to the pastor’s church. “I can’t figure out how the alleged crimes could add up to this heavy sentence,” Mr Liu added.

Background

Pastor Zhang was arrested in November 2013 along with 23 other members of Nanle County Christian Church after a dispute with local Communist Party officials who they claimed were trying to seize the land on which their place of worship was built.

Journalists from Britain’s Sky News were attacked and expelled from the area by government officials as they tried to report on the church’s plight last December.

In addition to Pastor Zhang, four members of the church continued to be detained. Following Pastor Zhang’s sentencing, two (Zhao Guoli and Wu Guishan) were released on 5 July. Two others, Zhang Cuijuan and Li Cairen, remain in detention.

Church members believe the government’s issue with Pastor Zhang stems from his frequent defence of marginalised social groups and individuals who have had their rights violated. Members say they believe this persecution is part of a plan to replace Pastor Zhang as the local Three-Self Church president.

Reaction

“This verdict is totally unacceptable,” said Bob Fu, President of China Aid. “The so-called core evidence was collected illegally based on a forced confession. Even the key witness, Ms Li Cairen (the alleged fraud victim), has been held in an unknown black jail (secret location).
This case shows the Chinese government continues to cover up religious persecution with fabricated criminal charges against an innocent church leader.”

(China Aid, CSW, The Telegraph)

NEWS UPDATE
Chinese pastor Zhang Shaojie, who leads Nanle County Christian Church in Henan province, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for ‘gathering a crowd to disrupt public order’ and ‘fraud’. He was also fined 100,000 Yuan (almost £10,000) by the Nanle County People’s Court on Friday. Release partner China Aid says the evidence was based on a forced confession from a church member, Li Cairen, who is also in custody (Prayer Alert, May 8). Please pray that Pastor Zhang will be released immediately. (Source: China Aid)

Two more members of Nanle County Christian Church in China’s Henan province have been released from detention, following Pastor Zhang Shaojie’s sentencing for ‘fraud’ and ‘gathering a crowd to disrupt public order’ (Prayer Alert, July 8).  Zhao Guoli and Wu Guishan were reportedly released on Saturday, having been detained since November 15. Four other members of the church remain in custody. Pray for the release of all remaining detainees and that Pastor Zhang’s sentence would be overturned. (Source: China Aid) 

Pastor Zhang.

NEWS | Chinese Pastor Zhang Shaojie Still Wrongfully Imprisoned After 7 Months

Three Christians from Nanle County Christian Church in China’s Henan province have been released on bail, after being detained for almost seven months. Yan Beibei, Fan Ruimin and Zhao Zhijun were freed but six other church members remain in custody, including Pastor Zhang Shaojie who is on trial for alleged fraud (Prayer Alert, May 8). Please pray for the immediate release of all six Christians. (Source: China Aid)

WP_20140429_004

Pastor Zhang Shaojie and more than 20 of his congregation were arrested back in November, 2013, in Henan Province, China. After seven months of imprisonment, Pastor Zhang Shaojie is still waiting for the judgment from the long-awaited trial dating back to late April, 2014. On June 11, three Christians were released, while five other church members are still detained or kept in black jails. ICC will continue to follow the case of wrongfully imprisonment of Pastor Zhang Shaojie.

 

 The majority of Chinese Christians choose to worship independently, and at least 60 million Protestants, possibly many more, attend “house churches”. They want to decide on their leadership, arrange their own meetings, hold Sunday school and preach the gospel. While some house churches have been able to meet more openly in recent years, many leaders continue to suffer harassment, heavy fines, arrest and torture. The extent of persecution experienced by house churches varies greatly across China. The Chinese government is currently engaged in a “Three-Phase Plan” to eradicate house churches.

 **************UPDATE********************

The state-sanctioned Nanle County church pastor, Shaojie Zhang, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in China, charged with “fraud” and “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.” Three members of his family- his daughter, son-in-law and the granddaughter have escaped China to the U.S. ICC intends to closely follow this case. Photo: Imprisoned Chinese pastor Zhang Shaojie’s daughter Zhang Huixin, second from left, her husband Sun Zhulei, left, and their daughter Sun Jiexi with church members, including Bob Fu, center, after they arrived at the Midland International Airport in Midland, Texas. Photo Credit: ChinaAid

Full Story: http://ow.ly/zkGtp

NEWS | Jailed Chinese Pastor’s Family Flee To Texas</p> <p>On July 4, 2014, the state-sanctioned Nanle County church pastor, Shaojie Zhang, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in China, charged with “fraud” and “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.” Three members of his family- his daughter, son-in-law and the granddaughter  have escaped China to the U.S. ICC intends to closely follow this case. Photo: Imprisoned Chinese pastor Zhang Shaojie's daughter Zhang Huixin, second from left, her husband Sun Zhulei, left, and their daughter Sun Jiexi with church members, including Bob Fu, center, after they arrived at the Midland International Airport in Midland, Texas. Photo Credit: ChinaAid </p> <p> Full Story:  http://ow.ly/zkGtp

Family of Imprisoned Pastor Flees China To Seek Refuge In The US

After continued harassment by authorities, family members of imprisoned Pastor Zhang Shaojie were evacuated out of China and are now in the United States. Underground measures were taken by activists, to aid his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter to secretly leave the country, reports China Aid.

Zhang, the pastor of Nanle County Christian Church in the central province of Henan, was sentenced to 12 years in prison on charges of fraud and gathering crowds to disturb public order.

The pastor was detained last November along with 23 other church members after a dispute with local Communist Party officials who they claimed were trying to seize the land on which their place of worship was built, activists say.

Zhang’s popularity prompted other Christians to rally around him and raise their voices to defend religious freedom. Many see the pastor’s treatment as an indication of the Communist Party’s continued and growing hostility towards their church.

Journalists from Britain’s Sky News were attacked and expelled from an area near the court by government officials as they were interviewing Zhang’s daughter and trying to report on the church’s plight last December.

A group surrounded the lawyers, began beating them and yanked their cellphones away. They similarly surrounded and beat the British reporters, even managing to take the crews camera, reported a Sky News correspondant.

Caring Christians had risked their own safety to bring food to the lawyers and journalists who had been detained by authorities.

Attorney’s went to the Nanle County Procuratorate to accuse the local police of nonfeasance and illegally disturbing and sabotaging the lawyers right to practice law.

Imprisoned Pastor Zhang's daughter,  Zhang Shanshan and her family escape escalating Christian persecution in China.

Zhang’s elderly parents have been threatened and his daughter’s car was confiscated by police. In their efforts to confiscate the Church land, government agencies petitioned the court asking for added time to Zhang’s sentence.

In June, the Chinese security officials blocked the family from leaving the country at Beijing’s airport citing “a national security risk”.

In April, his daughter tried to submit a visa application at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, she was thrown out. However, following her father’s prison sentence on fabricated charges, they were given advance parole authorization by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

China Aid relayed that US authorities authorized the family to enter the country for one year and decide whether to apply for asylum on the grounds of religious freedom.

“Our family and our church want to thank the US government and many anonymous church leaders in different parts of the world for helping assist our family’s hard fought freedom,” Zhang Huixin was quoted as saying in an e-mail.

Our family comes here to raise awareness of the deteriorating situation of religious freedom in Nanle and in China,” said the pastor’s daughter, Zhang Shanshan.

The First Baptist Church of Midland, (Texas) with more than 6,000 members, will provide support for the family’s settlement.

“Our Texas and Midland community warmly welcome this suffering, persecuted family into the United States for freedom,” Fu of China Aid and Pastor Randel Everett, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church, said in a joint statement. “We will continue to pray and fight for religious freedom for the faithful like Pastor Zhang Shaojie. We will not rest until all prisoners of conscience, like Pastor Zhang and attorney Gao Zhisheng, get release from China.”

Sources

The Telegraph

South China Morning Post

Standard News Wire

China Aid

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