Editor’s note: Deciding how to educate their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord has been a top concern of Chinese believers for years. Concerns about the intense performance pressure and the atheistic teaching have led many believers to opt out, at great personal cost, of Chinese public schools. Preacher Huang’s family made that choice several years ago, after seeing how their son was suffering in the system. This summer, Preacher Huang’s close friend was arrested for homeschooling his own children.
At seven o’clock that morning, Brother Zhu Shuhao was arrested. Those who took him did not show any identification. After seizing him, they forcibly searched his house. Only at that time was his family shown a subpoena.
The words on that subpoena were supposedly from Article 28 of Public Security Administrative Punishment Law:
“A person who commits one of the following acts shall be detained for no less than 10 days but not more than 15 days…
(1) organizing, instigating, coercing, inducing or inciting another person to engage in activities of cults, superstitious sects, or secret societies, or making use of cults, superstitious sects, secret societies, or superstitious activities to disturb social order and harm the health of another people; or
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(2) disturbing social order and harming the health of another person by masquerading under the name of religion or qigong.”
Act First; Find a Reason Later
The crushing heaviness of this law makes one understand the saying, “One speck of dust from an era may not seem like much, but when it falls on your head, it is like a mountain crashing down on you.” [This is a well-known phrase from the online pandemic diary of Fang Fang, a Wuhan writer recording the beginnings of the COVID pandemic in early 2020.] These simple words can be used as tokens to aim as they please at this person or that home. This law authorizes security officers to break into people’s homes, seize, arrest, detain and hold them in custody, and interrogate them repeatedly. Brother Zhu Shuhao and his family have suffered from such treatment.
If I compare Brother Shu with the words printed on his subpoena, it is easy to see that this is nothing but an attempt to frame him for a crime! What is more, the officials want to add administrative detention, criminal detention, and most likely even a prison sentence! If they were powerful enough, they would like to condemn him to the eighteen levels of hell [the uttermost depths of hell in Buddhism] and remove any chance of rebirth. Those who wrote the charges against him do not know that Brother Zhu has received the salvation of God in Christ; that the Son of God died in his place; forgave his sins; and rose from the dead to redeem him from the dreadfulness of hell to the bright, eternal kingdom. Brother Zhu is one of those of whom the Apostle Paul declared in faith, “He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”
The morning he was seized, my friend had not yet gotten out of bed. Who did he organize? Who did he instigate? Who did he coerce and induce? How did he disturb the social order or harm the health of another person?
You officials—did you have any evidence? Or was your plan to act first and legalize it later: raid his home, and then find something in his belongings and use it as evidence to frame him? In your hands, the law is not just a token of authority, it is a pack of cards to be played at will!
They Do Not Believe in Love Without Cause
There is nothing wrong with him being a Christian. He is a seminary student who has dedicated his life to the Lord as a preacher. The grace of the Lord has inspired Brother Zhu to be willing to practice homeschooling according to his faith. He wants to use all his heart and soul to teach his three beloved children the wonderful truths he has received from God.
Is this the cult of which you speak? Is this what you call a “superstitious sect”? Is being a Christian and teaching his children what you mean when you speak of instigating, coercing, inducing, and inciting? As law enforcement, have you ever dealt with your blind spots? Have you realized that power may bring you pride, arrogance, and a headstrong spirit? This is an area about which you know nothing. You need to be humble and learn to understand the beliefs and values of these people. Otherwise, you will only continue in stubborn self-centeredness, monopolizing the law’s interpretation with your subjective speculations, creating one stupid public incident after another. These incidents will be offered to history as a laughingstock. One day, they will be presented against you before the ultimate judgment seat of God, and will be used against you in the heavenly courts.
The many years of fellowship in the Lord between Brother Zhu and I has not prevented me from writing this article as a witness to what he is undergoing. For the judges of this world, who presuppose the both of us to be suspect, our relationship is suspicious and needs to be investigated in depth by repeated summons for interrogation. They have no faith; they do not believe our witness, the witness of the Bible, or even the witness of the Son of God, the incarnate Word who came from heaven to earth. These officials are still searcingh for the nonexistent “raw material” behind the Bible. This is the so-called modern spirit of enlightenment and skepticism.
For unbelievers, even the concept of “God so loved the world” is suspicious. They are also suspicious of the Father sending the Son to die on the cross on our behalf. They are guided by the principle that “there is no such thing as love without cause.” They prefer to live in hatred, for which they can find a cause. Similarly, they claim that Christian faith is caused by imperialism. They do not reflect on their own unbelief, which has happened because they are blinded by the false gods of this world. They are unable to see the glory of the gospel of God manifested through Jesus Christ!
Did Our Homeschooling Lead to His Arrest?
At the end of 2013, my thirteen-year-old went through a period of struggle as his growth stagnated. A joyful and active child, as we sent our son to school, he gradually became silent and reticent. This was our sorrow to bear and our child’s suffering to endure. Behind it all, a hidden horror lurked. Many direct reasons for his situation can be found, including recent events at Chengdu’s 49th Middle School [a 16-year-old student mysteriously died by falling from the top of his school building, many netizens suspected suicide or a cover-up]. As his parents, we needed to find a way to control ourselves and endure the situation.
Then, we realized: we could try home education. This was a new way God had showed us, a way out: “Let us preserve our child’s faith, character, life, and his motivation to study.” We were unsure with whom we could share this or could talk about the struggles and transition we faced at that time. Brother Zhu Shuhao was the first person we told, not only because he was my co-worker at the church, but also because he was “Uncle,” respected by my child!
Perhaps our story is what led to Brother Zhu Shuhao’s arrest today. Not only did he understand, approve, and support us, but he also convinced his wife to start homeschooling their own children. He resisted pressure from many, including family, neighbors, and brothers and sisters in the church who did not understand, to the point that he was approached and questioned many times by public officials.
My son is now 21. The magnitude of his transformation has been witnessed by all. Our family has benefited so much from homeschooling, but Brother Zhu has paid the price for it. If he is to be condemned for homeschooling, why have I been spared? Neither our joys nor are sufferings are counted in this age. The joy we share as Christians, the growth we have experienced through the process of homeschooling, and even the persecution we suffer today for it may all go unheeded. But we know that God has heeded us, God has loved us, God’s work in us has not ceased, and he will shape us to be more suitable through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. When the deep darkness has passed, his masterpiece will be seen on this vessel he has made. Then it will indeed be the most beautiful work of art!
Preacher Huang is a pseudonym for a pastor serving a Chinese house church in northern China.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for Brother Zhu Shuhao and his family. Pray for all Chinese Christian families struggling with educational options for their children.