Two Weeks in a Chinese Detention Center, Part One: “Ignite the Fuel of the Gospel”

two weeks in chinese prison

Editor’s note: This pastor recently spent two weeks in a detention center after he was arrested for preaching the gospel. This is his firsthand account of his experience while in prison. You can read the second part of his story here.

Wang Jianguo is the collective pseudonym for a group of Chinese house church pastors thinking and writing about issues related to the spread of Christianity in their nation. They are committed to preaching a grace-centered gospel, developing resources for the church, and loving China’s urban centers.

I came out of the detention center. I was very thankful when I saw many brothers and sisters coming to pick me up. Before I came out, I had made a long list and thought of sharing it with everyone. But after I came out, I was swept away by the things outside, and the things inside were being rapidly forgotten. It is like a person who dreams at night, but forgets during the day. For this reason, while I remember, I would like to tell you some of the things that happened during the process and the journey of my heart, and ask the Lord to bless and use it.

The night I was arrested we were having a Bible study. We were raided by the police at 8 p.m. First came a few plainclothes officers, then about fifty to sixty special duty officers. They pinned me to the ground in front of my wife and child without a word. They took custody of all of us: several Christian sisters, and my wife and our young child. I accused them of illegally enforcing the law, pointing out that they were infringing on our family life, which should be protected. But no one in the process showed proof of ID or law enforcement documents, and they did not answer a word to my protests.

I was taken to the police station, changed into a prison uniform, and handcuffed in the cell, just like last time. I found the sisters handcuffed in the next cell. I was particularly distressed by the rough treatment of their tender lives. The sisters were of different ages, but each had their own families, jobs, marriages and futures. Although I was prepared, it was hard to ask them to face this together.


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I thought about how we could not worship freely in churches outside. Now that [we were in jail] our space was free, so we sang and prayed inside. The sisters next door echoed each other’s voices. After twenty-four hours, a few sisters were released, and I felt a little comforted. But since the officials had deprived us of basic communication, I again rebuked them for illegally enforcing the law, reminding them that the police should not intimidate good people, but only bad people!

When I was taken away, a leader followed me out. He pointed at the police officer next to me and said he wanted to give him a lecture in the car. I said that was good, and I would love to have more interaction with him. We talked the whole way in the car, and even though my hands were handcuffed behind my back, these officers were extraordinarily respectful and asked questions about my faith. That day was a holiday, and one of the policemen said he had never imagined spending his holiday evening like this, but another said, “We have Mr. Wang with us.” I also wished them a happy holiday.

It was already 1 a.m. when I arrived at the detention center. When I entered the cell, there were several inmates sleeping inside, with one bed remaining. After I laid down, another person asked why I was brought in. I said I was a house church pastor. He said, “Are you a cult?” I said, “No. Now go to sleep and I’ll talk to you in the morning.”

The next morning there was a big debate. “If you are not a cult, why did they arrest you?” When you go inside, the hardest thing is not that the police say you have a problem, but that the prisoners also think you have a problem. The hardest thing is not that the people in power don’t understand you, but that average citizens also think the same about you. This debate is necessary for a basic reason. If they identify you as a cult, the testimony of faith has failed. Christians willingly follow the Lord even if they are imprisoned and arrested; but what is more difficult and important is to present the testimony of the gospel and to ignite the fuel of the gospel. After the debate, people did not think of me as a cult member anymore. They called me a missionary, and later they called me “father,” according to their understanding.

That night, after changing my cell, I was injured by a fellow inmate who was using drugs. The guards came in to deal with the matter and were very angry with the assailant. I interceded on his behalf and hoped for a lighter sentence. I hoped we could become friends. I was later transferred back to my old cell. Two days later, after the concerned officers handled the matter, the assailant sincerely apologized and promised to compensate me. I said, “Compensation is not necessary. Thanks be to God, getting your person is more important than getting your money.” He was very moved, and invited me back to his cell to spend some time together.

When I was scheduled to return, they all gathered around and asked questions about the gospel. One drug addict asked if everything would be okay when people die. He really did not want to live anymore, and his addiction kept coming back to him. That prisoner shared how he started going to prison when he was nineteen, got out every two or three years, went back in after two or three years. He was now thirty-nine years old and had been in jail seven or eight times. I told him what the Bible says: there is a death for everyone, and after death there is judgment. The most important thing is to be reconciled to God. He then said clearly that he would believe in Christianity when he gets out. In that cell, there were at least five inmates who expressed similar faith prospects, but we never had a chance to exchange phone numbers. Although some of the prisoners knew the place where I lived, I came out of jail only to discover that our space in that apartment complex had been lost. By the next day, I was transferred from the midst of those prisoners again, probably because the guards wanted to prevent me from influencing them.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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