Editor’s note: Today is International Women’s Day, “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.” We are proud to bring you today, on Women’s Day, the courageous words of an ordinary woman, 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.
Below is a translation of an open letter she wrote to the mayor of Chengdu protesting her treatment at the hands of government officials. We have also included a translation of her letter to Christian brothers and sisters explaining why she prayerfully decided to publish such a public letter. In publishing this letter, she has almost certainly opened herself up to further persecution and greater pressure in the future.
We at China Partnership ask you to join together with Chinese saints in prayerful intercession for this Christian mother as she follows her conscience and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
To Wang Fengzhao, the honorable mayor of Chengdu:
Would You Pray With Us Today?
Greetings to you and your family! I am a Christian citizen of the People’s Republic of China living in Chengdu. In this city over which you govern, I have two children—my oldest son is seven years old, and my youngest son is nine months old.
Over the past two years, my church has experienced many incidents of government officials, especially police officers, infringing on our religious freedoms. Now, I too have experienced this infringement on Christians’ religious, personal, and property rights.
On December 9th, 2018, pastors, elders, deacons, staff, and ordinary members of my church were arrested en masse. Two years have passed since then, and the judicial authorities of Chengdu have confirmed that the vast majority of our elders, deacons, staff, and members were innocent. Judiciary staff even once said to a member of our church, “We have examined the recipients of every financial transaction of your church. No money ever went to an individual. There really is nothing wrong with your church.”
But the administrative agencies of this city over which you govern, especially the Public Security Bureau, have violated these innocent Christians’ religious, personal, and property rights many times over these past two years. Christians in my church have experienced illegal administrative detention, illegal seizure of property, beatings, shutting off of water, electricity, gas, and internet, forced evictions, door-to-door threats, termination of jobs, the filling of front door locks with glue, separation of mothers and children, twenty-four seven surveillance, and the list goes on.
I have seen others’ rights being violated, and now the same has happened to me.
On January 14th, 2021, I left home at 9 a.m. After I returned at 6 p.m., I discovered that two boxes of Christian devotional books that I had placed in my closet were missing. After confirming that no one in my family had taken them, I called the police. A police officer then came to my door and asked me to follow him to the police station to report the case. So, I carried my swaddled son to the police station. After I made a report, the officer told me that my belongings were involved in a case and had been seized. I did not know what crime I had committed. I asked him for a list of the seized items, and he said there was none. Most importantly, I asked him why the Public Security Bureau had seized my personal belongings for a case without informing me of what crime I was suspected of. Why wasn’t I informed? How did the Public Security Bureau enter my house? Why wasn’t I given a warrant? The officer answered me by saying that this case is being handled by the police, and that cases that are handled by the police do not require that I be shown a warrant.
Honorable Mayor Wang Fengzhao, as the senior authority governing Chengdu, you and your men certainly know the laws of our country and the laws of Chengdu very well. As a citizen, I do not understand why the police do not follow the law. Is not the law binding both on public authorities as well as us citizens?
After the officer finished making the report, I asked him, in accordance with the law, for a receipt of my complaint. He said that Early Rain Covenant Church is a cult and that he would not file a case because these study materials were illegal. He said if I had a problem, I should go to the National Security Bureau office.
I do not believe that the government can label Early Rain a cult because according to the principle of the separation of church and state, the government cannot make judgments about churches. Moreover, Early Rain is a member of the universal church and is recognized by Christian churches around the world. It is a church of the Lord Jesus that holds fast to the truths of the Bible.
In summary, as a Christian citizen, I would like to ask you, honorable mayor, to answer these questions of mine:
1. Does the National Security Bureau have the authority to break into citizens’ homes without any warrants to search and seize their belongings at will?
2. Is Early Rain Covenant Church a cult? What is the definition of a cult? What is the legal basis for this definition? What are the limits of the government’s power? Does the government have the power and is it qualified to determine the nature of a church?
3. Does the government permit its administrative agencies to infringe on citizens’ religious freedoms, personal freedoms, and property rights?
Honorable Mayor, I am just an ordinary citizen who believes in Jesus. I am raising my children according to the teachings of Jesus in a small corner of this city over which you govern. It is my hope that they will grow up to be good citizens. We love this city, but when I encounter these illegal things, I cannot help but be concerned. I don’t know when the door of my house will suddenly be illegally pried open and my personal safety and that of my property threatened.
The Bible says, “Rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval.” (Rom. 13:3)
May you be a ruler who rewards good and punishes evil!
From a Christian citizen,
January 15, 2021
Below is Sister Shu’s letter to Christian brothers and sisters explaining her decision to pursue this public course.
Dear brothers and sisters blessed by the Lord,
My decision to file a report with the police and to write this letter were made after much prayer. May God keep me from doing this in the flesh and help me to rely on the power of the Lord Jesus. I would like to share something with you all.
We are people of the kingdom of heaven, but we are also citizens on this earth. God has blessed his people and desires that we be fruitful and multiple and that we fill the earth and subdue it. (Gen. 1:28) He also desires that we do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. The National Security Bureau has greatly persecuted our faith. If they had burst into someone’s home like this while she was taking care of two children, she would experience post-traumatic stress. Today at the police station, I wanted to tell them, “If you were in the United States, I could have shot you with a gun.” But the Lord graciously kept me from saying anything to provoke them. Nevertheless, this is the truth. I will not easily overlook this incident, because if I do, they will become even more aggressive in the future.
I know that God is in control. When I did these things, I really did have peace. I am prepared to accept more persecution in the future. I thank the Lord for protecting me throughout this whole process. I have truly felt his presence, and I believe that he will move those burdens that I cannot bear. Please continue to pray for me, brothers and sisters. Please feel free to share this letter with others. Praise the Lord!
Blessed along with you all in the Lord,
Sister Shu Qiong