A letter from the elders of the South China Church addressed to "to all the seniors within the Lord, elders, servants of the Lord, pastors, saints and friends from various circles of life" called for support and recognition of the situation of churches in China. The SCC wish for the Chinese government to open a third court session and allow people to experience the pure faith of Christianity and be permitted freedom of religious belief."
The Old Catholic Church of Great Britain project "Doing Hard Time for God!" led by Archbishop Gary Beaver, has been lobbying world governments in an attempt to raise awareness of the escalating human rights abuse that has outlawed freedom of religion in China.
Full text of the open letter
November 12, 2005
Dear respectable President Bush,
We are the members of South China Church (SCC) in China. Thank God for giving us the opportunity to write this letter to you. We are also grateful to you and the American people for your concern on the SCC case. May grace, peace and blessing go to you and all the people who revere Him. Amen!
South China Church was founded by Pastor Gong Shengliang with the inspiration and leadership of God of Trinity and in accordance with the truth in the Bible. We are his pupils. Teacher Gong became a devout believer in Jesus Christ as a child. His grandmother on mother's side was baptized a Christian in the 1930s by an American missionary and a pastor from a Baptist church.
Since 1986, Pastor Gong was preaching in the South of China the Gospel of atonement by Christ. In the meantime, he established churches in Hubei, Sichuan, Chongqing, Hebei, Shandong, Henan, Shanxi and other places in China. Guided by God, we preach the Gospel mainly in the South of China. That's why our name is South China Church---just like the light out of the darkness that makes people under Satan, Death and Evil "turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (1 Thessalonians-9). This is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and is the God the American people believe in. However, in China, an atheist country and also a country with many gods, it is so difficult to worship God.
Throughout its history, SCC has been serving God amid persecution. Many of our brothers and sisters have been turned to the authorities, fined and their houses have been searched when they get together to worship Jesus Christ. So many of our missionaries have been arrested and sentenced in prison (even capital sentence). However, we still raise our hands and pray for our own country and its people. We implore God to bless China, make the Gospel prosper here and bestow peace and prosperity to this land.
However, our rights of faith and life are restricted or even deprived. Since 2001, SCC has suffered unprecedented persecution. About a thousand Gospel ambassadors are hunted down and arrested. In this circumstance, members of the church cannot go back home, cannot till their fields and cannot worship God and they have become "the people where the world was not worthy of them" (Hebrew 11:38), let alone their human rights.
The Chinese authorities crack down and abolish SCC under the charge of "cult" and they extort confessions from members of the church and its missionaries by torture, seduction and deception so that they can build up their "blueprint of an unjust case" on groundless charges. Sister Yu Zhongju, a member of SCC was beaten to death by Zhongxiang Public Security Bureau of Hubei Province merely because she refused to confess. On August 8, 2001, Pastor Gong Shengliang, leader of SCC, was arrested and he had to wear shackles for 411 days designed for a convict sentenced to death. In the meantime, 63 other missionaries and members of the church were arrested and were sentenced to "Education through Labor and Reformation through Labor." The first trial lasted from December 19-21, 2001 and on the charge of "organizing and using a cult organization to undermine the implementation of law," they sentenced Pastor Gong and other co-workers respectively to death, death on probation, life in prison and term imprisonment.
Shackles, electric batons, cigarette butts, Guanjia and other instruments of torture have left marks of injuries that they got for their faith. Some of them still have not recovered from these injuries. Later, under the pressure of the international public opinions and with concerns from peace-loving people from all circles of life, the government conducted a re-trial on the grounds of "unclear facts," "insufficient evidence" and "illegal proceedings." The court opened for the second time on October 9, 2002 and lasted for two days. Now the death sentence was changed to life in prison and the death sentence on probation was changed to term sentences. Some of them had their sentences commuted by various degrees. Four sisters of ours were at first released right at the court, but were later sentenced to three years of the so-called "Education through Labor." (Because there were marks of torture on their bodies when the authorities tried to extort a confession from them).
Before the trial opened, the court invited the defense counsel to a banquet and requested the counsel to cooperate in the trial. They also forced the counsel to sign on the "Notice of Court Session" and moved up the time by one day ahead of schedule. During the court trial, the counsels were not allowed to defend their clients and the defendants were not allowed to make their statements. From the time Pastor Gong was imprisoned (August 8, 2001) to the time of re-trial on November 29, 2002, he was allowed only one meeting with his family on the video telephone. In the re-trial, the "criminal clique" accused Pastor Gong of "rape" and "intentional injury" and he was sentenced to life in prison. He was taken to serve his sentence in Jingzhou Prison in Hubei. In the prison, Teacher Gong is not allowed to have contact with any other prisoners, nor is he allowed to talk or answer the questions of other prisoners. Pastor Gong is not allowed to appeal or go to public restrooms.
Two prisoners are assigned to conduct a 24-hour surveillance on him and to report their findings. Once, because he didn't answer the question of a prisoner (as the rules of the prison forbid him to talk with other people), he was so beaten that blood appeared in his urine and stool. He has lost his hearing in one of his ears and he still has not received treatment for it. With concerns and urging from his friends both in China and abroad, Pastor Gong was finally allowed to see a doctor for his injuries. Later, he was transferred to Hongshan Prison in Wuhan, Hubei Province. In April 2004, Pastor Gong who was severely tortured both physically and emotionally, fell down while cleaning the windows of the prison and not even single soul came to ask about his condition. When his family learned this during a prison visit, they requested that he be given medical treatment, the prison officials not only wouldn't hear it, they claimed that he fell down onto the floor because he read the Bible, prayed every day and worshipped Jesus, so much so that his mind became clouded. Pastor Gong had a relapse of stomach problems in November 2004. For half a month, he couldn't drink and was very weak. When he was in such a critical condition, the prison officials refused to let him seek medical treatment.
Pastor Gong wrote statements of appeal on many occasions, but the prison authorities not only did not submit them, they searched and confiscated Teacher Gong's home letters and his statements of appeal. What is worse is that they refuse to let lawyers see him on the ground that Pastor Gong never submitted statements of appeal and that he never mentioned appeal. Director of the prison Sun Wenquan, Director Xie from Prison Political Section and other people talked with Pastor Gong on many occasions and wanted him to renounce his belief and admit that what he believes in is a cult. If these demands were met, they would commute his sentence. They told his family that he wouldn't plead guilty and wouldn't obey the law. In this situation, they will not commute his sentence. During visits, no talk is allowed that is about faith or the church. Otherwise, the meeting would be stopped.
In the last visit, Pastor Gong told his family who came to visit him that the prison added a few more prisoners who conduct surveillance on his conduct and then report it to the authorities. His stomach problem is getting worse and worse and he often feels dull abdominal pains. We are worried that if this is not treated in time, it may endanger his life. Though he did not die at the gunpoint of the court's sentence, he may die in the prison due to the unfair treatment…. Now, not only is the situation in the prison for Pastor Gong very difficult, the situation for other 16 brothers and sisters of SCC detained in Jingzhou Prison in Hubei Province, Jiangbei Prison, Women Prison of Wuhan, Three Gorges Prison in Wanzhou, Chongqing, Yongchuan Women's Prison in Chongqing and other prisons is also very bad.
The leading cadres in these prisons not only treat them as members of a cult, they also force them to write statements of repentance and to admit what they believe in is a cult. Some of them are suffering a worse fate. For example, Lu Yumei, Xiang Shuangyu and other sisters Yongchuan Women's Prison in Chongqing are denied the rights to see visitors, write letters or receive daily necessities. Besides praying to our Lord Jesus Christ, we also urge President Bush, God's ambassador who has always been concerned about the SCC case in China, to give us support and help SCC who shares the same belief with you and to "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3) so that China can become a country of our Lord Jesus Christ as soon as possible. Let us raise our hands and may God lend His hands of grace to help you.
We appeal to all the seniors within the Lord, elders, servants of the Lord, pastors, saints and friends from various circles of life to show concern toward the situation of Gospel churches in China, to give your support to the SCC case and to condescend to the lower level of SCC and learn the truth of SCC. We hope the Chinese government can open a third court session and let people know the true identity of South China Church so that the pure faith of Christianity can gain a true name and a space for freedom and belief. May God's benevolence, the grace of Christ and the touching of the Holy Spirit be always with you and with us. Amen!
South China Church
Archbishop Gary Beaver Supports South China Church Communication to President Bush
Company: Old Catholic Church of Great Britain
Contact Name: Media Officer
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Phone: 44 7761055456
Contact Name: Media Officer
Contact Email: email@example.com
Contact Phone: 44 7761055456