Editor’s note: Earlier this week we published an open letter to the mayor of Chengdu from Shu Qiong, a Christian mother of two living in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. She is a member of Early Rain Covenant Church, whose pastor, Wang Yi, was arrested more than two years ago and remains in prison today.
The day after Sister Shu’s open letter began circulating online, police came to her house and took her, along with her two young children, into the station for questioning. Today we are publishing a translation of her account of her interrogation. Please join with Chinese brothers and sisters in praying for Sister Shu.
Jan. 14, 2021: I was not at home. No one was home. The police, without any warrants, illegally unlocked the door of my home, entered it, and took away my personal belongings.
Jan. 15: I called the police. They did not file a case. I then wrote a letter of complaint to the mayor, which was circulated on the Internet before the letter had been sent.
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Jan. 16: Two police officers came to my home and summoned me to the police station. They showed me a summons that appeared to me invalid. It did not state the name of the person being summoned (they wrote it later, on the spot). It also did not contain a reason for the summons. They only asked me verbally whether I had written a letter to the mayor. I said, “Yes, I am the one who wrote it.” So they said, “Then please come with us.”
I asked them to wait for me at the door. Then I went into a room and prayed with my son. I gathered my nine-month-old baby’s things, changed my clothes, and took my two sons to the police car. Praise the Lord! My son and I sang hymns the whole way and were very joyful.
When we arrived at the police station, a few national security officers showed up. I made no effort to be polite and began arguing with them. I yelled, “Who gave you the authority or what law says that you can unlock and enter my home without a warrant? If you were in America and broke into my home, I could shoot you with a gun!”
“This isn’t America,” they said.
“If this is not America,” I said, “does that mean you can disregard the law? Do citizens not have rights to privacy and security?”
I then had a verbal confrontation with one of the officers. My fleshly impulses were strong. But then I remembered Jesus’s teaching: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” So I told him, “I’m sorry. I should not have yelled at you. I was too angry.” He was a little embarrassed.
The overall disposition of the police and national security officers was better this time, unlike previously, when they didn’t give me anything to eat or drink. My husband brought me some lunch, and after I finished eating they gave me a cup of tea. Then we began our conversation.
One of the national security officers first read three public notices: the notice about Early Rain’s sanctuary being banned, the notice about Early Rain being banned as an illegal organization, and the notice about Early Rain’s school being banned as an illegal school. As they prepared to begin writing the report, I asked them to read me my rights. After they read me my rights, they began the questioning and recorded some of my personal information. I’ve written some of the questions and answers from our conversation below, as well as some words that did not make it into the report:
Them: “What books are you missing?”
Me: “They aren’t books. They are study materials that I printed out myself.”
Them: “What kind of study materials? Do they have a name?”
Me: “Yes, they do. The name is ‘A Covenant Devotional.’”
Them: “Where was it printed and bound?”
Me: “I refuse to answer.”
Them: “We just read three public notices to you. Do you understand them?”
Me: “I understand them, but I don’t agree with them.”
Them: “Early Rain Covenant Church has been banned. It is an illegal organization. Do you understand?”
Me: “No, I don’t understand.”
Them: “I’ll say it again. Any activities or meetings held under the name of Early Rain are illegal. Do you understand?”
Me: “I have a question. Please answer me. Is Early Rain a cult?”
Them: “No one said that Early Rain is a cult. It is an illegal organization banned by the state.”
Me: “If it is not a cult, then it is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, a church that preaches the truth of the Bible. I have the freedom to exercise my faith.”
This was the main content of their questioning. Below are some questions and answers that they didn’t record:
Me: “Why did you open my door and enter my house? Who or what law gave you the authority to do this?”
Them: “Do you own the home? Do you have a real estate license?”
Me: “Don’t you know the law? I have a rental contract. Even the landlord needs my permission to come in!”
Them: “Can you call an apartment separated by a wooden partition a ‘home’?” (The wall between our apartment and our neighbor’s is made of plywood.)
Me: “How can you not call it a home? Why didn’t you tell me that you wanted to enter my home? You could have called me!”
Them: “We don’t have your phone number.”
Me: “That’s a cheap lie. Who doesn’t know about your surveillance technology? You only need to enter my name and then you can obtain whatever information you want. You say you don’t have my phone number. Don’t you find that hilarious?”
Them (embarrassed): “……”
Them: “You have an obligation to send your children to public school. This is required by the Compulsory Education Act!”
Me: “I have an obligation [to educate my children], and I also have my rights. According to the International Convention, I have the right to educate my children at home in my own way.”
Them: “Is that an American thing?”
Me: “Do you know anything about the law? You’ve never heard of the International Convention?”
Them: “If America is so good, then move to America.”
Another officer (scoffing): “She can’t even if she wants to.”
Me: “Yes, that’s true. I can’t go even if I want to, but our pastor and elders can go, and they were told to go many years ago. Do you know why they didn’t go? Because they love this land and they love you so much that they are willing to be illegally tried here by you!” (I was very emotional at this point.)
Them: “Don’t get emotional. Talk properly.”
Me: “Besides, we have already immigrated to the kingdom of heaven. How is America better than the kingdom of heaven?”
Them: “The kingdom of heaven? Haha!”
Them: “Where does your righteous confidence come from?”
Me: “My confidence comes from God’s word in the Bible. He said rulers are a terror to those who do wrong, but approve those who do good. I haven’t done wrong, so why should I be afraid of you?”
Finally, the captain of the National Security Brigade declared to me once again, “Early Rain Covenant Church has been banned and is illegal and God tells you to obey those in authority.”
I answered, “My obedience is in Christ. You summoned me and I came. This is obedience. But Early Rain Covenant Church is a church of the Lord Jesus Christ that speaks the truth, so I will stand my ground. I will not leave. If I have broken the law, you can arrest me. I can submit to this, just like our pastor Wang Yi whom you illegally sentenced to nine years in prison. He did not appeal. So we do not need to discuss this anymore.”
He said, “If you persist, we will enforce the law!”
I told him, “No problem. I can accept it.”
This was basically the end of our conversation. They made me sign the transcript. I asked the questioner to write his name and police number in the column labeled ‘questioner,’ but he refused. So I refused to sign it.
After they left, I sat on the couch and sang my kids to sleep with hymns and enjoyed the beauty of God’s presence. God is amazing. He caused a brother to walk in and chat with me for a while. Later, a national security officer saw him and made him leave. It was very comforting to know that I was not alone and that I had the Lord Jesus Christ and my brothers and sisters.
I want to share one more thing that I am thankful for, and something that you all can pray for.
A little while after that brother left, two young men wearing protective clothing entered from a metal door at the back and sat on a bench across from me. They were in their twenties and had grave expressions on their faces—no hint of a smile. My baby smiled at one of the men, and then the man revealed a slight smile.
Then they stood up again and put their goggles on. I asked them, “Where are you going? To the hospital?” I thought they were police at first. They didn’t answer me. Then I said, “The pandemic is quite serious now. Be safe, and God bless you!” This time he spoke: “Don’t bless me. I’m a convict.” I was heartbroken to hear that.
Then the police put handcuffs on them. I said to them, “Jesus saves people. Believe in Jesus!” He made a Catholic sign of the cross. I was very moved and continued to tell him, “Believe in Jesus. You must believe in Jesus. Jesus loves you.” I saw tears flowing from his eyes behind his goggles. He made another sign of the cross, walked to the door, folded his hands, and bowed to me. I prayed for him with tears in my eyes.
Praise the Lord. The Lord is not partial. I think I may have gone there because the Lord sent me there to share the gospel with this soul. Pray that the Lord would choose them.
A national security officer then came to me and told me to go home. Full of peace and joy, I left, carrying my child, and told every police officer along the way, “Goodbye! Jesus loves you!”
Thanks be to my God.
A coward sprinkled with the blood of Christ who has peace, joy, and eternal life,
Sister Shu Qiong
January 19, 2021