Chinese Dissident now a Pastor in Taiwan.

When Chinese democracy activist Yan Peng felt the ship under him turning away from the Taiwan-owned island of Dadan, he knew his attempt to flee China on a tourist boat had been discovered and that his chance for freedom was slipping away. So he took the only logical course of action. He jumped overboard and started swimming to shore.

Yan Peng in the library at China Evangelical Seminary in Taipei

The ship tried to ram him, so he dove deep to avoid the ship’s churning propeller. The water became darker and darker until he could no longer see his breath. He then surfaced for air, and started swimming to shore, with Chinese coast guards in boats firing at him from 30 meters away. Miraculously, the bullets missed, and he crawled onto shore, crying out for God to save him.

Once on land, 10 Taiwanese soldiers surrounded Yan with rifles pointed at his head but, thankfully, another dozen soldiers surrounded the Chinese coast guards who had pursued Yan to shore.

The Taiwanese government sentenced him to life imprisonment for trespassing on a military base, but human rights advocates petitioned then – President Chen Shui-bian, and Yan ended up spending 8½ months in a detention centre.

Afterwards, he was free to stay in Taiwan, albeit without citizenship or a visa.

It’s been 11 years since Yan, now 51, touched the shores of Taiwan. The government only gave him a long-term residency visa last year, finally allowing him the freedom to work in Taiwan and travel.

Last year Yan also became the first ordained pastor in Taiwan from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), shepherding a small congregation in Taoyuan.

Yan’s long ordeal is typical of the logistical maze asylum seekers from the PRC face in Taiwan, as the island has no law protecting refugees and is not a member of the United Nations. While in the past f years Taiwan’s government has offered certain refugee groups a pathway toward long-term visas, it deals with Chinese dissidents who escape to Taiwan on a case-by-case basis.

As the Chinese government increases its persecution of human rights lawyers, democracy advocates, and pastors, human rights groups in Taiwan are urging passage of a refugee law that would make Taiwan a safe haven for dissidents.

  • Pray for Yan, and other Christians from China who have found safe haven in places like Taiwan. Pray for their families, many of whom remain in China wit little or no freedom to travel.
  • Pray for Christians in China, as they face ongoing persecution. Pray that the church there will continue to grow and for good discipleship resources for new Christians.
  • Pray for Taiwanese government to deal fairly with Chinese Christian refugees and offer them a safe haven, Pray that they will also pass laws allowing safety and fair treatment of all refugees seeking refuge there.

Job 11 vs 18: “And you will have confidence, because there is hope; you will be protected and take your rest in safety.”


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