Thursday, August 25, 2005

China: Arrest first, ask questions Later

World Magazine: "Eric Pilson is not entirely sure what provoked the police raid on his friend's house in Hubei province, China. The number of people slowly gathering at the home—42 Chinese in total—may have aroused suspicion.

Whatever the reason, Americans Mr. Pilson and Daniel Cohee found themselves snatched up in a raid on the underground South China Church on Aug. 2. While they were reading their Bibles after breakfast on the second floor, plainclothes officers barged in. The officers shoved and yanked the two seminarians toward the door, at first not even allowing Mr. Pilson to slip on his shoes, while rounding up the rest of the household."

Read the whole thing.

Update on the interview, from the interviewed.

Update: More on the Interview, from the Interviewed

A quick note on this article by World Magazine: the interviewer quotes me as

"Almost primarily just the nationals are treated most poorly, just because
Americans are high-profile,"


"Chinese are weaker. They can do what they want to them and no one really

During my phone interview with Ms. Priya Abraham, the article's author, I
communicated to her not the weakness of the Chinese Christians, but rather
their vulnerability. Many of the evangelists who were arrested with us had
left their families to follow Christ and were not allowed to return to their
hometowns due to a high risk of arrest. In addition, many had changed their
names or had new identifications in order to remain safe from the public
security bureau. Therefore, when arrested, they had very few people, other
than their own Church leaders, who could cry out and defend them when being
mistreated. As American citizens, we were treated relatively well by the
Hubei police, because we could appeal to our own government's protection,
but such is not the case for the Chinese Christians. According to accurate
reports, most of those arrested with us were brutally beaten and tortured,
some to the point of critical hospitalization and permanent injuries.
Meanwhile, Daniel and I were merely handcuffed, pushed, shoved, yelled at,
and held for a time. After pressing them with our rights as American
citizens to call our embassy or to be released, the Hubei police started to
"befriend" us, telling us we were welcome to come back anytime and even
offering to share a drink with us after being set free [ although I'm not
sure why exactly ]. These local police officers were extremely undisciplined
and seemed more like a gang of thugs than upholders of law and order; they
realized they could possibly get in trouble for mistreating Americans, so
they let us go and acted like we were old friends. These same police then
hopped in their unmarked audis and drove to the local prison where they knew
they could act freely on their hatred of the South China Church, taking full
vengeance on the other 40 or so Chinese Christians being held; without any
risk of losing their jobs or being held accountable.

Just two days before our arrest, I spoke with one of the South China
Church's evangelists, a young girl named "Jane" who had been learning
english in order to become a translator for future foreign teachers. She had
not seen her family in 5 years because she had earlier been arrested at age
16 and served 7 months in prison for "illegal evangelism", and she told me
how her parents demanded that she stop preaching the gospel because she
would get arrested again, and how they disowned her because she refused to
obey them rather than God. During our conversation, I asked her how she and
the other evangelists had such a passion for the Gospel and were willing to
give up everything to follow Christ, even risking their own lives in order
to faithfully proclaim it. She said simply that God had called her to this
task, and that she would follow His calling wherever it led her; she had a
supreme confidence in the everlasting faithfulness of God because of the
person and work of Christ. These Chinese evangelists were ready and willing
to endure tremendous suffering for the sake of the Gospel; realizing the
cost of following Christ was high, especially in such a hostile environment.

Two days later, during the raid, Jane was arrested and found with some
papers that had english words on them which she kept in order to practice
her english. Sadly, because of these papers, she was treated with greater
severity by the Hubei police, and she endured a horrendous series of
humiliating beatings with a sharp bamboo stick. The police suspected that
she had more information to offer because of her english studies, and she
was therefore singled out as a target of the more brutal torture. She has
since been released by the Hubei police and is undergoing treatment for her

The point of the story is to illustrate the fact that those Chinese
Christians which I met within the South China Church are not weak in the
least or in any way "weaker" than Americans, contra the misquote in the
World magazine article, but rather they have great strength and perseverance
which comes from their utter dependence on God's sovereign hand and His
unchangeable love in Christ Jesus. They are simply more vulnerable to such
severe persecution because their government offers little to no protection
of their human rights or religious freedom. I hope this clears up any
confusion for those who read this article. Thank You.

- Eric Pilson

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