A filthy rumor has spread in the West that Christians are no longer persecuted in China. This rumor is so convincing that many major Christian organizations have stopped supporting Chinese underground churches, secret Bible printing, and other ministries which are desperately needed but banned by the Chinese government. House Church believers are even sometimes berated for not joining the government-regulated Three Self Church by those who can’t tell the difference. If there have ever been doubts about the Chinese government’s attitude toward the House Church, the story of Huali Gong’s father should suffice to dispel them once and for all.
On April 23 of this year, Huali humbly and respectfully petitioned the Chinese President Xi Jingping on behalf of her father, a leader of the South China Church network in Hubei Province who was convicted of false charges in 2002 and has been behind bars ever since. His health has deteriorated drastically and today he appears to be at death’s door due to several serious medical conditions which the prison officials refuse to treat. Part of her petition describes what Pastor Gong has endured in prison for his faith:
After being jailed, my father was forced to do hard physical labor and followed the prison’s rules. When he was arrested, he suffered many savage tortures. He was imprisoned in a very damp area for the first two years. He was inflicted with rheumatism. His gastroenteritis went from bad to worse. Once his gastroenteritis made him unable to eat for two weeks, and he found blood in his stool and urine. The prison officials were very cruel to him, never giving him any medical care for these last ten years and more. My father was attacked with cerebral infarction [tissue death due to lack of oxygen] and high blood pressure at the end of 2012. Since then, he could neither walk nor speak. Because of the complete absence of minimal medical care, his cerebral and cerebellum functions have been severely affected. His life is in serious danger.
Pastor Gong has suffered greatly for his commitment to Christ and needs our prayers. When his House Church network was labeled an “evil cult” by the authorities in 2001, he was arrested and sentenced to death for “using an evil cult to undermine the enforcement of the law,” but international pressure prevented his execution. However, in 2002 he was retried and convicted of multiple counts of rape based on the forced testimonies of several female church members who had been arrested and tortured into confessing the accusations. This man of God was given a life sentence in China’s notoriously harsh prison system when his only real “crime” was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He suffers in prison to this day for his faithfulness to his Lord and Savior.
Christian brothers and sisters around the world, let there be no confusion: persecution of Christians has in no way ceased in China and the need for us to stand by the Chinese underground believers is just as crucial now as ever before. Join us in praying for dear servants like Pastor Gong who has sacrificed all for the gospel. May Huali’s petition and prayers be answered for God’s glory.