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2/23/2011 China (CrossRhythms) – A Chinese Christian jailed and tortured for editing an underground newspaper spoke out on her first visit to the UK to brand as a lie the idea that China enjoys religious freedom.
‘Sarah’, who has spent a total of six years in jail for her faith, was the keynote speaker at a women’s conference held on Saturday by Release International, which serves the persecuted church.
‘It’s very dark in China for Christians,’ said Sarah after the conference. ‘In the UK or Ireland or the US, I feel the sky is blue.
‘A lot of our brothers and sisters (in China) are still being tortured. The persecution never stops in China. Some people don’t understand that China is not free.’
Sarah used her speech to Release’s conference in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, to share some of her own harrowing experiences, including three spells in jail.
On one occasion, she was seized from her bed at night and taken to a warehouse where guards tortured her to try to make her sign a confession and a document implicating her friends. She was beaten severely, especially on her feet, then shackled and made to walk back and forth in chains for hours. Sarah refused to sign.
A video re-enactment of her ordeal posted on YouTube (Sarah’s Trail of Blood) was played before she addressed the conference, prompting a standing ovation as she got up to speak.
Sarah, who had to flee China for her own safety, said many Christians she knows are in jail, including several of the 400 members of her church arrested with her in 2001. One of her friends and co-workers, Li Ying, is nine years in to a 15-year jail sentence.
Sarah also spoke about the power of prayer – and about the hunger for Scripture in China.
‘In my experience, it’s not my physical body that can overcome,’ she said. ‘I can only think of one thing: Jesus laid down his life on the cross and I just want to follow him. He rose up from the dead and I have hope in heaven.’
Release sources report that the Chinese authorities appear to have launched a particular crackdown on religious rights lawyers and activists. Missing Beijing lawyer Gao Zhisheng and Dr Fan Yafeng, head of the Chinese Christian Human Rights’ Lawyers Association, are cases in point.
Only last week, security officers launched a brutal assault on well-known legal activist Chen Guangcheng and his wife at their home in Shandong – then denied them medical care. Chen, who is blind, has been under house arrest since his release from jail last September.