Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Daughter of Linfen Prisoners’ Appeal

Dear Friends,

Esther (Yang Xue)
I am very worried about my parents, especially after the Linfen Inferior Court sentenced my father to three and a half years’ imprisonment on November 25th. Five days later, my mother was sentenced to two years’ Re-education through Labor; the court made this decision without proceeding, investigating or gathering any evidence. On the next day, my mother would be transferred to Taiyuan City to serve the sentence at Shanxi Women Prison. Before she left, the police informed her relatives to bring some clothes and daily supplies to her. One of her relatives had the chance to briefly meet her and found that she did not look well. She had lost one front tooth; her hair seemed much greyer and her hands a little swollen.

Brothers and sisters, can you imagine how I felt when I heard this? I know my mother better than anyone else. She is just a housewife, dedicated to her faith and diligently serving the Lord. My father is prudent in studying and teaching the Bible; he practices what the Bible teaches. How could he do anything that violates the law? I still remember how he encouraged his children to carry out our New Year’s resolution in 2003. He earnestly instructed us about things we should not do in our lives: never take God’s name in vain, never outrage your conscience, and never disobey the law. How can a father of virtue violate the law? As for the so called evidence the prosecutors provided at the court, you would know it was false, especially light of the lawyers’ defense of my father. (See the Defense statement for Yang Xuan below Esther’s Appeal.)

I feel compelled to share my family’s story in the hope that you will see and know their true characters, and the extent of this injustice.

Yang Xuan
My father Yang Xuan began to serve the Lord full time in 1974, serving in ministry for 35 years. I remember when I was little, my father studied at Yanjing Seminary. I seldom saw him at home; he always went back to school soon after visiting our family. After graduating from the seminary, he had two choices before him: join the three-self church, enjoy a stable income, a peaceful life and a promising future; or join a house church by faith, which would not guarantee anything for his life. After fervent prayer, he chose to join a house church, which he believed to be in accordance with Biblical teaching. My father has always clearly understood what he chose in that moment.

In 1994, my father moved the whole family to Linfen to begin ministering. At that time, the churches in Linfen had recently separated from the Three-Self churches. Many brothers and sisters did not have a place to worship, and so assembled in the backyards of some church members’ houses. For six years, we endured harsh weather, be it coldness or heat, dusty wind or storm. Nevertheless, the congregation grew from 50 to 700 members. It would get so crowded that the late-comers would have to move into additional houses, just to listen to the sermons. All these sites were scattered at different places, so my father had to run around to preach in several different homes.

Driven by faith, he thoroughly enjoyed his work and never tired of it. Every night when I came home, I could always find my father talking cheerfully to my mother about how the brothers and sisters were nurtured on that day, and how many more were saved.

My father Yang Xuan, my uncle Wang Xiaoguang and his wife Yang Rongli, along with coworkers and church members led Sunday worship, member trainings, discipleship and the worship band for Jindengtai “Golden Lampstand” Church in Linfen City. My father was in charge of the band, which was active in fruitful ministry. In addition to leading the band and preaching, my father loves writing, and many of his dramas helped brothers and sisters learn about God as the head of the family. Over the years of preaching, my father learned from his experience and mistakes and eventually wrote a book “On Preaching.”

My father is not perfect, but he is man of principle, and he stands firm on what he believes. His parenting style was a little rough on his two children: My father would ask me to read the Bible daily, pray and do morning exercises, and read all kinds of spiritual books. He did not allow us to watch TV, go shopping, and he even put a curfew on us. All these restrictions made me antagonistic toward my father and his faith. I felt my father was “out-dated.” I did not realize I had benefited from his teaching in belief and daily life until later in life.

Yang Caizhen
My mother Yang Caizhen had been a doctor; she maintained a stable job and income. But she quit her job to support my father and his ministry. After her resignation, she had a much busier life; she had to take care of my father and supervise me and my brother to study. Sometimes, she had to work part time. Even so, she never forgot to urge us to study the Bible, go to church every Sunday and prepare ourselves to serve the Lord. This is how my brother and I built our foundation of faith. We were not willing to obey in the beginning; later as we grew older, we experienced the joy of the presence of God. Eventually, we repented and were baptized. While we were away from home for college, we participated diligently in church ministries. One time, I asked my mother, “Did you feel mistreated when my father was too busy with church to take care of us?” She replied, “No. I have always admired what your father is doing at church.”

This was my family, busy and full of joy. The events of September 13th struck me. I did not know something had happened until I tried, but was unable, to contact my parents by phone. On September 19th, I kept calling home but nobody answered. At first I thought I had dialed the wrong number; later I realized that the telephone line at my house was being transferred to somewhere else. I was very worried about my parents, so I kept on calling; but still, nobody answered. I still have not been able to talk to my parents.

I learned about the incident from my relatives and friends, and in early October, I learned from the internet news that my parents had been arrested and transferred to prison. On October 15th, a relative of my mother was asked to sign the Notice of Administrative Detention for my mother; as for my father, no one has seen his notice of detention. Currently, there has been unusually heavy snow in Shanxi, with predictions of the weather worsening. I am so concerned for my parents’ health.

Yang Family photo
My dear Christian brothers, sisters and churches, I am letting you know the harsh circumstances that dedicated Christians are facing in mainland China. My father, Pastor Yang Xuan, and my mother, Yang Caizhen, are being persecuted like many other Christians and house churches. Due to the persecution, I have been unable to contact my parents since mid-September. All we ask for is the freedom to worship and share the Gospel. Nowadays, the government reportedly advocates religious freedom and human rights; nevertheless, we have encountered many difficulties in exercising this very basic civil right.

Please do not reserve your sympathy for the Chinese Christians. As the New Year begins, please remember them in your prayers and appeal for them! I call upon everyone to fight for religious freedom in China, and to financially support organizations that advocate for religious freedom and human rights.

Here I would like to express my appreciation to China Aid Association. Ever since I lost contact with my parents, I have been able to receive the latest news from ChinaAid. They helped me contact the human rights lawyers to appeal for my parents, when all lawyers in China were warned not to deal with the Linfen Case. They made great endeavors to help my parents and the house churches leaders in Linfen.

As you consider ways you can help, I ask that you continue to pray for the deliverance of my parents and justice for all the imprisoned leaders. May the Lord bless the efforts of ChinaAid and other concerned human rights organizations, as they fight for religious freedom in China. May God bless their ministries and provide abundantly for what they need.

Thank you!
--Esther (Yang Xue)


Dear sister Esther,

Many of us are praying and writing to your parents and other brothers and sisters from Linfen. You are not alone in your grief and they are not alone in their imprisonment.
Christ is our rock and our savior.
Ricardo from Toronto, Canada.

Dear Esther,
My name is Mercy. I am 10 years old and I am praying for you and so are my friends. I pray that your parents are relested soon and are not hurt. I hope and wish that someday China will not persecute over religen. I was born in China but live in America. I think you are verry brave. Please keep on sending reports to americans.


I too will pray for your family's safety & that they will be given the courage needed. May God's angels be with them and you.
Ruth (England)

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