Why write to Christians in prison? Simple, God calls us to remember the persecuted. Hebrews 13:3 says “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” This is how we can remember and show the persecuted that they are remembered.
People in prison need encouragement. They are suffering, some are tortured, others are isolated, many are starving, and all are mistreated. There are many stories about how receiving cards, even from people they did not know, helped them through their tough time. Sometimes, this is the only access to scripture they have, as their Bibles are taken away. Your card/letter may be the only light they receive.
Cards/letters also show the authorities that these prisoners mean something to people outside of their country. This can put political pressure on the government to treat the prisoner better. In addition, the official reading the letters before giving them to the prisoner, also gets a look at who Christ is. What an easy way to encourage those in the body of Christ and possibly reach others for Christ.
Pastor Wang Yi is the founding pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church. This church is located in the city of Chengdu, in the Sichuan Province of China. It is one of the most well-known house churches in China. House Churches are illegal in China. The Protestant Three-Self Church and China Christian Council, and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church are the only churches allowed to operate in China with governmental approval. Out of 100 million Christians in China, only 30 million belong to the government approved churches. Christians often decide to start a house church because they do not want to be controlled by the government. Churches that have government approval also have to abide by the government’s rules. Right now, we are seeing the government force legal churches to take down their crosses, put up pictures of the President (often replacing a picture of Jesus, preach sermons that are pro-communist, take down ten commandments, and more. Many Christians opt to have an illegal church, also called a house church, in order to not be subject to these types of oversight. However, it also means their entire church is operating illegally.
As a former law professor, Pastor Wang has been very vocal in calling on the government to uphold religious liberties. Because of this, Early Rain Covenant Church has been under pressure for quite some time. However, on December 9, 2018, the government upped the ante. Police raided the homes of the members and arrested them. In less than a week, over 150 leaders and students were in police custody and the church was forcibly closed.
Many of those that were arrested have been released, after months of torture. They are now required to meet with officials up to 5 times a day. However, a few, including Pastor Wang, are still incarcerated. Those who were released are still under surveillance.
In July 2019, Pastor Wang was denied the attorney he had chosen and the state gave him attorneys. On December 30th, 2019, Pastor Wang was tried in secret. He was convicted of “illegal business operations” and “inciting subversion of state power.” He was sentenced for these crimes and given 9 years in prison. He will also have $7,200 of his assets seized and will be stripped of his political rights for three years. His church released a statement regarding his sentence. You can read it here.
According to the government-appointed lawyer, Pastor Wang has chosen not to appeal his sentence. It is unclear if this is actually Pastor Wang’s desire.
It is known that prisoners in Chinese prisons are often beaten, tortured, starved and worse. Some are also sent for re-education. It is currently unknown where Pastor Wang has been sent. The address below is the most likely place that he has been sent.
When writing your card/letter, make sure NOT to mention the source of your information or the name of any organization. It is not dangerous for a prisoner to receive letters from individuals, but if an organization is mentioned the prisoner may be accused of links with ‘foreign organizations’ and receive harsher sentences. Also, do NOT state anything negative about their government.
You may want to choose a card instead of a letter. I like to do this. I choose a card that is full of color and beauty because in prison, they will see little, if any, of this.
The best practice:
* is to not use names other than the prisoner’s.
* do not mention any organizations or governments.
* stick to scripture and encouragement.
Pastor Wang Yi
Changdu Detention Center
Zhengyi Road #3
Anjing Town, Pi County
Chengdu City, Sichuan Province
Zip Code 611731
People’s Republic of China
You can go to the post office counter and pay an exact amount. You can also put three stamps on the envelope and it will get there. If you would like to print out your message in Chinese, you can go to his VOM Profile, use their automated choices, then print it out in Chinese. Then you can mail that.
You can see InChains from earlier this year to read and link to more information.FOLLOW ME