Guiyang, Guizhou – The wife of a Christian pastor scheduled to stand trial later this month penned a letter on Nov. 30 describing the hardships their church has faced since his incarceration more than a year ago.
Yang Hua, the pastor of the repeatedly persecuted Huoshi Church, was detained on Dec. 9, 2015, while trying to intervene with authorities’ attempts to confiscate a church hard drive. The next day, he was sentenced to two consecutive, five-day administrative detention sentences for “the crime of obstructing justice” and “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.” On Dec. 20, 2015, when his wife, Wang Hongwu, arrived at the detention center to collect him, she saw him wearing a black hood and being herded into an unlicensed vehicle. She later learned that he had been charged with “illegally possessing state secrets’ and was being transferred to criminal detention.
For more than a month, officials held Yang incommunicado, and Wang only received news of her husband on Jan. 22, when authorities announced his arrest on the charge of “divulging state secrets.”
After more than a year of being held without a trial, a local court scheduled Yang’s hearing for Dec. 26.
In her letter, Wang describes how the church and her family have suffered since Yang’s arrest, including having officials guarding their church and being unable to hold regular church services.
A full translation of the letter can be read below.
A prayer letter for Huoshi Church
Dear family members in the Lord, may peace in the Lord be with you!
I am Sister Wang Hongwu, the wife of Pastor Yang Hua from Huoshi Church in Guiyang. It has been one year since Dec. 9, 2015, when our church was banned [from meeting]. Though our small family has been going through hardships, we are still so grateful.
Because the church was banned, the 600 square meter office building (which is worth a total of more than 5,000,000 Yuan. The down payment is 2,500,000 million Yuan, and the mortgage is 30,000 Yuan per month) is often guarded by the police [Editor’s note: 500,000,000 Yuan, 2,500,000 Yuan and 30,000 Yuan are $724,123, $362,062 and $4,345 USD, respectively]. We can neither use it nor rent it out. The authorities specifically heavily fined Zhang Xiuhong, Liang Xuewu and Su Tianfu, [who rented] the building. The church’s bank account is frozen, and our church can’t hold normal meetings. We are losing a lot of church members. They have to be divided into smaller groups to worship. Not only is the church is facing huge economic pressures, but some church leaders are risking being in jail.
Sister Zhang Xiuhong’s case hasn’t been tried since she was arrested for illegal business on July 28, 2015.
Pastor Su Tianfu has been released on bail. The lawyers can’t access the documents and have no plan for a trial yet. He was charged for divulging state secrets.
You Lei and Wang Yao are being tried for the same charge [Editor’s note: You and Wang leaked a confidential government document containing plans to establish a headquarters to persecute Huoshi Church]. The lawyers their parents hired got calls from the Bureau of Justice before their trials. They weren’t allowed to plead innocent. If they did, there would not be a trial at all, and the case would be shut with an unlimited duration. If they cooperated with the government, they [were told they] would be released soon. To this day, there has been no trial, and they have not been released.
Pastor Yang Hua has been in the detention center for nearly one year. His charge is divulging state secrets. We learned from his letters, in this period, he is constantly sick but is still grateful and is always encouraging me.
Given the huge hardships suffered by our church and our family, I especially ask brothers and sisters to pray for us. I firmly believe that this is God’s most beautiful decree.
May the Lord remember you.