Remember the persecuted church

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This morning, Christians will gather in freedom across America and throughout the western world to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, His victory over death. Although our faith is the object of ridicule and contempt, none of us in the west need fear arrest, imprisonment, or torture because of our faith.

But we have brothers and sisters who are suffering even as we celebrate. In many nations, particularly in those nations still in thrall to Islam and Communism, Christians are subject to persecution by the government. In other countries, freedom of religion exists, but mobs threaten Christians who are open about their faith.

Let me call your attention to one prominent case. Gao Zhisheng, 44, is a Christian and a human rights attorney in China. Once a member of China's Communist Party and hailed in 2001 by the justice ministry as one of China's ten best lawyers, Gao helped his fellow citizens defend themselves against corrupt local officials.

In 2004, Gao began to dig into the persecution and torture of members of Falun Gong. In October 2005, he wrote a letter to the leaders of China urging an end to this persecution. His law firm was shut down. He quit the Communist Party in December 2005. He was abducted by secret police in August 2006 and later that year convicted of subversion. In 2007, after urging a boycott of the Olympic Games, he was again abducted and tortured for two months. (Here is a link to Gao's open letter, in which he details the torture he suffered during this period.)

On February 4, 2009, security police took him from his home. He has not been seen since. His wife and children are now in the United States under political asylum.

Voice of the Martyrs, based in Bartlesville, Okla., is seeking to call world attention to Gao's fate in hopes of pressuring the Chinese government into releasing him. They have joined with China Aid in setting up the Free Gao website, where they are soliciting signatures on a petition to the Chinese Ambassador to the U. S., e-mails to Chinese officials, and funds to help defend Christians in China:

We will deliver a printed copy of all the signatures collected to the Chinese embassy. Add your voice, and encourage your friends to sign the petition, to make the Chinese government aware that the world is watching this situation and to call them to account for their inhumane treatment of Gao Zhisheng.

Officially, China claims to have freedom of religion and a system of law that protects human rights. During the Cold War, public attention and pressure in the West brought about the release of many dissidents in the Soviet Union. The hope is that public attention to Gao's cause will not only result in his freedom, but will help all who suffer religious persecution in that country. I urge you to join me this Easter in praying for Gao, for his family, and for all those who share in Christ's sufferings around the world. And I urge you to take action.

MORE:

New Yorker blog entry from April 3 about Gao's disappearance
A description and excerpts from Gao's book, A China More Just
A Facebook "fan" page for Gao Zhisheng -- a way for Facebook users to show support and raise awareness

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 12, 2009 12:32 AM.

Livable Green Country was the previous entry in this blog.

"Why You Hate Your Church" webinar next Sunday is the next entry in this blog.

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