Two pastors, who were initially arrested in China in 2014, have been found guilty of “utilising a cult to undermine law enforcement” and sent to prison.
The pastors, Zhao Weiliang and Cheng Hongpeng, along with 20 other Christians were singing hymns in a rural factory when the building was raided by police on June 25, 2014.
More than 50 police and plain-clothes officers burst into the rural wood mill factory, owned by a church member, and took the 22 Christians into custody. Among those taken were a pregnant woman and several small children, including two babies less than a year old.
The officers also confiscated musical instruments and equipment.
The group was deprived of food and water as the police tried to extract confessions that the Christians were part of a cult. Guards eventually brought some food when the prisoners warned them that the babies could die.
Ten of the Christians, along with the children, were then released, but authorities held the pastors and ten others.
Pastor Zhao was taken to a room where an officer threatened him, “There is no surveillance camera in this room. If I beat you to death, no one will know.”
He was then handcuffed and taken to a hotel, where a high-ranking officer arrived and further abused Pastor Zao, demanding that he confess his crimes of leading a cult organisation.
Pastor Zhao responded by explaining his beliefs in God, in Jesus Christ, and by saying that he does not believe in heresy.
The two pastors were eventually convicted and authorities accused Zhao of being the organiser of the “cult”, while Cheng played an active role.
In a legal appeal, Pastor Zhao’s lawyer stated that the believers were not part of any specific organisation that would undermine state laws. The group had conducted choir practice at the factory, which had no close neighbours. He added, “If singing hymns were a crime, then perhaps the [authorities] would have to kill all the skylarks.”
The lawyer argued that the arrests are “a case of persecution of Christians.”
- Pray for Pastor Zhao and Pastor Cheng, and many other Christians in prison in China for their faith. Pray they will know the presence of Christ with them, and through their witness, many others will come to know Christ Jesus.
- Pray for Christians in China, where pressure against them is on the increase in many regions.
- Pray for Chinese authorities, to see Christianity as having a positive influence in the country, and not something to be feared.
- Pray for Christians to ave courage to witness to their faith, and to be salt and light in their families and communities.
Colossians 4 vs 3: “At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison.”