It’s for good reasons that China ranks #39 on Open Doors’ list of countries that persecute Christians. Reports of civil rights abuses, churches shut down, and the imprisonment of Chinese Christians are continuously documented. If China’s President Xi Jinping’s recently delivered speech is any indication, the country of almost one and a half billion people is going to most likely jump a few spots on that list. If so, more stories like that of persecuted Christian lawyer Gao Zhisheng will become the norm.
Unwavering Convictions, Gao Zhisheng’s latest book, is a memoir that was smuggled out of China and published earlier this year. In the book, Zhisheng details the torture he’s suffered for the last ten years at the hands of the Chinese government. The book’s publisher, Carolina Academic Press, provides some details:
Gao Zhisheng was one of Beijing’s most successful lawyers. Self-taught and brought up in poverty, he came to prominence through his defense of individuals persecuted by the Chinese government for their religion and practice of Falun Gong and was ultimately detained, tortured, and imprisoned himself by the same regime. The pages are not an easy read, because they detail the regime’s attempts to break one of the greatest spirits of our time. Despite this, Gao Zhisheng’s unwavering convictions, profound beliefs, and commitment to humanity shine through.
If you’re unfamiliar with Gao Zhisheng, ChinaAid provides a brief introduction in their plea to see him freed:
The Chinese government’s persecution of human rights defense lawyer and Christian Gao Zhisheng began in 2005, when the Beijing Judicial Bureau revoked his law license and ordered his practice to shut down. In December 2006, Gao was convicted of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ and sentenced to a three-year prison term with a five-year probation. However, he was released soon after for reasons unknown.
On Sept. 21, 2007, Gao was taken into official custody again. When he was released 50 days later, he wrote ‘Dark Night, Dark Hood and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia,’ in which he recounted how he had been tortured, including having toothpicks inserted into his genitals.
Throughout the years, Gao has been an unyielding and iconic advocate for justice in the Chinese courts and has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize (2008 and 2010).
After years of being arrested, then released, and then re-arrested, the civil rights activist “published a book smuggled out of China by ChinaAid, and it was released in English in January 2017. On Aug. 13, 2017, Gao’s brother discovered him missing from his home, and his whereabouts remain unknown.”
As Gao’s book is beginning to become noticed in the U.S., President Xi’s speech to the 19th National Congress of Communist Party of China serves notice that the persecution of Christians will increase.
Speaking for over three hours, President Xi demanded that those loyal to the Communist Party of China avoid religious myths and focus on China. This comes on the heels of an official memo published by the Communist Party of China a week earlier. Reuters reported, “China’s top newspaper warned Communist Party officials on Thursday not to ‘pray to God and worship Buddha,’ because communism is about atheism and superstition is at the root of many corrupt officials who fall from grace.”
While China seeks to open its markets to the world, Chinese Christian are facing an increased time of persecution by their government. Let’s pray that the torture detailed in Gao Zhisheng’s book Unwavering Convictions doesn’t become the norm for Chinese Christians.