A blog from our associate partner CSW…
‘Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family – the authorities are capable of doing all of these things. However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith.’
This is part of an open letter penned by Pastor Wang Yi, the leader of Early Rain Church in China. He wrote it in September 2018, to be released in the event that he was arrested and held for more than 48 hours. He knew that his vocal yet peaceful support of Christians and churches targeted by the government meant his arrest could happen at any time.
Pastor Wang was arrested in December 2018 and has been detained, without trial, for nearly 200 days. As we write, he has not had access to a lawyer or been allowed to receive visits from his family. His arrest, and the arrest of over 100 church members at the same time, has been a severe blow to Early Rain Church. However, Pastor Wang’s last letter remains as a strong statement of his faith, and a message of hope to his church and family that he will endure.
‘Regardless of what crime the government charges me with, whatever filth they fling at me, as long as this charge is related to my faith, my writings, my comments, and my teachings, it is merely a lie and temptation of demons. I categorically deny it. I will serve my sentence, but I will not serve the law. I will be executed, but I will not plead guilty.’
At CSW, we know the power of the written word. Letter-writing is one of the simplest and most effective campaigning tools we have. Letters to prisoners can get them better treatment, as it shows the authorities that the world remembers them. Letters to embassies can show the international community’s interest in cases, and shine a light on human rights violations. Most importantly, letters to those suffering because of their faith can be a vital message of encouragement and hope, a heartening reply to the statement they’ve made by standing up for their faith.
‘Jesus is the Christ, son of the eternal, living God. He died for sinners and rose to life for us. He is my king and the king of the whole earth yesterday, today, and forever.
‘I am his servant, and I am imprisoned because of this.’
Pastor Wang knows the power of letters, too. This statement, published by the church after his arrest, according to his wishes, may be the most important one he’ll ever write. Reading it, you can almost picture him in his office, or perhaps at home, knowing that his familiar surroundings are all-too fragile, hoping that this letter will never be read, understanding that it likely will be.
He cannot go unanswered.
You can write your letter to encourage Pastor Wang Yi here.
Don’t forget to come along to our Love Letters stand at Greenbelt 2019, where we’ll be giving you the opportunity to write to others around the world who are suffering because of their religion or belief.
With thanks to CSW China Partnership. Statement taken from https://www.chinapartnership.org/blog/2018/12/my-declaration-of-faithful-disobedience, translated by Amy, Brent Pinkall, and the China Partnership translation team.