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CHINA’S EPAPHRAS
2019/8/31 21:12:54
读者:121
■Esther Wang

CHINA’S EPAPHRAS:

Life Testimony of Wu Weizun, Servant of the Lord

 

 

 Note: “Zun” was originally the Chinese character for respect with a “man” character as the radical.  The original character is pronounced in the third tone. 

However, because the actual character cannot be displayed on computer, this essay will use the Chinese character for respect in its place.)

 

 

 

Introduction

 

It was Beijing in 1900.  The Boxer Rebellion had just begun.  The Empress Dowager Cixi,  Prince Duan Zheng, and Zai Yi instigated the Boxers to attack various foreign missions.  They also called the Gansu Governor Dong Fuxiang to assist. Yuan Chang from Tonglu in Zhejiang province appealed on two consecutive occasions.  He strongly advocated against attacks on the foreign missions out of fear that they would provoke retaliation.  At the Imperial Council, Yuan   once again strongly advocated, “Gang power cannot be relied upon; foreign interference cannot be risked.” “Killing foreign envoys will violate public laws.”  He argued that the harm would be irreparable if such actions were taken.

 

He spoke with assurance and fervor; his voice thundering throughout the palace.  Both Minister of War Xu Yongyi and Minister of Punishment Xu Jingcheng supported Yuan’s position.  The Empress Downager was displeased and left the council.  Soon the Allied forces of the eight foreign countries occupied the artillery fortifications at Tianjin and moved toward Beijing.  Yuan and Xu Jingcheng knelt in front of the palace with their appeals, tearfully pleading for the execution of the individuals who caused the conflicts, so as to remedy the situation. Zai Yi was infuriated.  He arrested individuals includingYuan Chang, Xu Jingcheng, and Xu Yongyi.  On the Fourth of July, Yuan Chang and Xu Jingcheng were executed at the gate of the open-air market.

 

The situation developed according to predictions made by Yuan Chang and his allies.  On the 20th of July, the Allied Forces of the eight foreign countries commenced an attack on Beijing.  On the 22nd of July, Cixi and Guangxu, the Manchu Emperor,  left westward for Xian.  In December of that year, the Allied Forces of the eight foreign countries left Beijing and the throne issued an edict ordering the restoration of Yuan Chang to his official position.  In 1909. the first year of the Emperor Xuantong, the throne bestowed upon Yuan Chang the post-mortem honor of the “Lord of Loyalty” and established the “Shrine of the Three Loyalists”on the South Side of Mount  Gusan by West Lake, to pay respect to the martyred Yuan Chang, Xu Jingcheng, and Xu Yongyi.

 

On the 21st of December 2002, over 100 years later, in Ningxia, a saint by the name of  Epaphras left this world in peace in a dilapidated room outside the walls of the Yinchuan Prison.  This Chinese Epaphras was the grandson of the “loyal Yuan Chang” (in the words of Wang Mingdao).

 

 

Grace and Calling

 

After Yuan Chang met his end, his family quickly moved southward from Beijing and settled in Songjiang, which is within Shanghai’s proximity.  At the time, several female American Wesleyan missionaries had already begun to spread the Lord’s gospel in Songjiang by the establishment of a school.  When she was 12 years old, Yuan Chang’s daughter, Yuan Jilan, (1889 – 1967), enrolled in this small girls’ school (the predecessor to the Muwei Girls’ School).  God’s saving grace was thus bestowed upon Yuan Chang’s descendants.

 

According to reports, before his death, Yuan Chang had on several occasions secretly advised foreign residents (primarily missionaries) who lived in Beijing to leave the city, thereby reducing many casualties and losses.  Many missionaries were very grateful to Yuan Chang.  They also knew that Yuan Jilan was Yuan Chang’s daughter.  These missionaries expended considerable energy on the girls of the school.  The missionaries taught them to understand biblical truths, know the true God, and rely on Jesus Christ as the Savior.  They also nurtured them to possess an excellent knowledge and morality base.  In this kind of environment in her teenage years,  Jilan received Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

 

When she was 19 years old, Jilan married into the Wu family in Dongyang, Zhejiang province. She raised six children (aside from three who died as infants).  Jilan gave her youngest son, Wu Weizun, born in April 1926, a biblical name “Epaphras.” 

 

Weizun grew up in a church environment.  It was therefore natural that he understood many biblical truths, was familiar with biblical stories, and was well able to sing many hymns.  When the teachers would ask in class, “Who believes in Jesus?” little Weizun would raise his right hand and say, “I believe in Jesus!”

 

However, he was not reborn as a child.  After entering the fifth grade, little Weizun became rebellious.  He began to doubt God, accumulating several hundred questions in his mind.  At the time of the anti-Japanese war Little Weizun tasted for the first time the sufferings of this world wandering about with his family.  He complained to God, “Why create man?  You created him and allowed him to sin.  Then you punish us.”  Later, his mother purchased the newly published Streams in the Desert for him, letting him read a biblical passage and a chapter each morning.

 

One day in May 1941, the Holy Spirit opened Weizun’s heart through the Streams in the Desert.  He knelt in front of his bed and prayed, “O God, forgive my pride and foolishness; I was wrong.   I will no longer ask several hundred questions; I commit them all into your hands.  It is not that I don’t want to understand, but I want to see what you want me to understand at this time.  May your light shine upon me, one step at a time so that I might understand.  First, I now believe and depend on you.  You will not be wrong.  Your word – the Bible – will not be wrong.  O God, from this day forward, you are my father; I am your child.  I accept Jesus as my Savior.  I admit that I am a sinner.  I ask the Lord to cleanse all my sins with his precious blood.”  He was no longer so filled with pride.  Since that day, Wu Weizun received a new life in the Lord.

 

 

 

After Weizun experienced a rebirth, God cultivated him in all areas of life.  When he graduated from the middle school and was about to enter senior high school, God allowed him to learn the value of not telling lies and the lesson of holding steadfastly to biblical truths.  These exercises paved the foundation for his later ministries.

 

In January 1945, Weizun attended senior high school in the Xishan region of Zhejiang province.  During the winter break, he read books, conducted spiritual devotions, and meditated in the small hill in the back of the school.  He thought about how the Lord Jesus Christ, despite the fact that he possessed the image of God, “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, in order to save him,.  Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:7-8). 

 

He thought about how, ever since he was in the fifth or sixth grade, he had loved the natural sciences and had determined to study science and engineering in college to one day become an engineer or a scientist.  Yet, on that day, he asked himself, “The Lord has already become humbled for me, what have I done for him?  The Lord has shed blood and given his life for me, what have I surrendered for him?” 

 

He once again meditated upon the Lord’s great love on the cross.  His heart was moved by grace.  He knelt down and said to the Lord, “O Lord, I give myself to you.  I no longer want to become an engineer or a scientist.  I am willing to forego the college entrance examination.  I will do whatever you want me to do.  If you want me to become the preacher I most dreaded becoming, I will be willing.”  After his prayer, he knew that the Lord had already gladly accepted him.

 

Before the senior high school’s graduation examination, Weizun decided that since he had already given his life to the Lord, he would not participate in the college entrance examination.  At that time, his love for the Lord has become more and more passionate.  His nightly prayers have also become longer in duration.  It was as if the Lord was right there next to him, with a strong sense of intimacy, and he had so many things to say to the Lord.  In the beginning, he prayed until 10 p.m.  Later, he would pray until midnight or even early in the morning, laying down for a brief rest only after the rooster had crowed.  Yet, he was in good spirits and was not fatigued.  He continued to attend classes and studied during the daytime.  Eventually, he would pray throughout the night until daybreak (the sun rises early in June).  His classmates were still deep in sleep, but his mind was very awake.  He would then quietly rise from his bed, take a small Bible to the window, sit on a stool, open the Bible.  The Lord spoke to him through the scripture:

 

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38)

 

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

 

 

 

He understood clearly that the Lord was calling him to surrender himself and carry the cross to follow the Lord each day for the rest of his life.  Otherwise, he would not be worthy of being called the Lord’s disciple.  This was the Lord’s lifetime calling to him.  He said to the Lord, “O Lord, I am willing.”

 

In the next few days, he thought even more calmly: “What if the Lord wants me to preach at the border regions?  What if the Lord lets me preach, but no one is willing to listen and no one cares?  What if I become so impoverished as to have no food to eat and no clothes to wear?  What if the Lord allows many people to view me with contempt, to misunderstand me, to falsely accuse me, or to be slandered?  What if the Lord permits me to become seriously ill, to suffer from chronic pain, or to face death?…”   Whatever he could think of and whatever he could possibly face, he considered seriously.  He weighed the matter and repeated to the Lord, “O Lord, I am willing to pay all costs to follow you until the end.”

 

At the same time, he also noticed there would be much opposition from others.  There would be a spiritual war, if he followed the word of the Lord.  As it turned out, a few days later, there was a commotion in the entire school.  “Wu Weizun has gone crazy!”  Wu Weizun is now a fanatical believer of Jesus!  He is neither taking the university entrance examination nor is he eating!”  There were even those who said, “He is heartbroken over a love affair!”  Many of his fellow students and teachers tried to persuade him to prepared for the university entrance examination; yet he turned around and shared the gospel with them, urging them to believe in Jesus.

 

The director of General Administrative Affairs of the school cared a great deal for him.  He made special efforts to urge him to change his mind.  Because the director was unsuccessful, he became desperate: “You were once a very good student; now, you are worthless!  You are even urging me to believe in Jesus?  I will not believe in Jesus even if I go down to hell!”  At the time, he had nothing to respond to this beloved teacher.  However, thanks to the Lord, five years later, Weizun bumped into this teacher in Shanghai.  The Lord had saved him.

 

The Post of the Lay Believer

 

Between fall 1946 and early 1949, Weizun studied at the Shanghai Chinese Theological Seminary.  In early 1949, he began serving as an intern preacher at Shanghai’s [Shouzhen] Keeper of Truth Church.

 

This was an era of turbulence and abrupt changes.  The Nationalist Party was retreating in defeat while the Communist Liberation Army crossed the river en mass.  Shanghai “liberated” in May,   was filled with noise and excitement,  constantly all kinds of rallies and processions.  People performed folk dances, beat drums, and chanted slogans.  Sounds of lyrics like “the sky in the liberated area is bright and clear” were transmitted from the processions into the church that stood next to the street….





 

In the empty church, Weizun was alone as he knelt before God in prayer.  The households in Shanghai were already prepared, with the purchases of foodstuff and salted fish, for the period during which one era will be replaced by another.  For this reason, the Keeper of Truth Church suspended its meetings for two weeks.  Weizun used this time to pray wholeheartedly for the Lord’s will.  He said, “O Lord, please watch over me that I will be a preacher even unto death, that I will never leave the post of the preacher, that I will never do anything else.”  Yet, the Lord’s response was contrary to his prayer.  The Lord did not send him out to be a preacher at that time.  He wanted him to do something else and wait for the Lord.  The response that he had heard from the Lord was, “Wait.  When I need you, I will entrust the work to you and let you do it.”

 

Weizun was clear.  In this time of abrupt changes, the Lord wanted him to be a lay believer an ordinary Christian, not a preacher.  He said, “The Lord did not tell me to be greedy for this world; rather, he gave me a different post from which to continue the fight.  He wants me to please the Lord and serve as His witness from the post of an ordinary teacher.”

 

Beginning in October 1949 and ending in 1957, Weizun served as a middle school teacher in Shanghai for eight years.  During these eight years, Weizun adhered to the “principles of battle” that God gave him: “Give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar; give unto God what belongs to God.”  He also kept his twin identities firmly in mind.  One was his identity as a teacher and the other was his Christian identity.  As a teacher, he did his best to be a good one.  However, he was also clearly aware that his identity as a teacher was only temporary and secondary.  Yet, his identity as a Christian would be for eternity and was thus his primary identity.  When the two identities came into conflict, his identity as teacher had to yield to his Christian identity.

 

“History of Socialist Development” was a Big Lie!

 

After the Liberation, the first battle he fought for God took place when the Hongko district government organized the elementary and secondary school teachers to study the Marxist-Leninist “history of socialist development.”  At the completion of the study, each person was required to write a summary report about how he/she came to understand the “History of Socialist Development” and describe his or her view of the subject.  After prayers, Weizun wrote one sentence on this point:

 

“Through the study of the ‘History of Socialist Development,’ I understand that this developmental history beginning with the evolution of “ape to man” and continuing to the emergence of the “communist society,” is a great lie.

 

As a consequence, the political instructor organized others to “help” him.  Thanks to the Lord, because Weizun was teaching in a church school, most of his colleagues were Christians.  In their hearts, they supported Weizun’s viewpoint.  Therefore, no one spoke a word.  The political instructor was compelled to criticize Weizun, which actually provided an opportunity for Weizun.  The political instructor said, “The God in whom you all believe opposes science!” 

 

 

Weizun replied, “Teacher Chi, where did science and scientific principles come from?  Were they established by man?  No, no one can establish scientific principles; scientists cannot do so. They can only discover and confirm a portion of scientific principles.  The real scientific principles were established by God before He created the heaven, the earth, and all the other creations.  The heaven, the earth, and the creations also adhere to those principles established by God.  Since scientific principles were established by God, why would God oppose those principles that he had established?”  Some teachers smiled in response to these comments, some nodded their heads, and some had no expressions at all.  Weizun also said, “Teacher Chi, the question today is not that God opposes science; but that mankind wants to use science to oppose God.”

 

Many teachers were concerned for Weizun’s welfare as they listened to his arguments.  Weizun himself could only entrust the consequences to the Lord.  Perhaps it was the early part of the post-Liberation period, the school did not follow up on this matter.  The first battle of the “lay believer” ended with the Lord’s mercy.

 

A Controversial Matter

 

Beginning in June 1949, Weizun attended the meetings of the Nanyang Road Church (the Meeting Place of Brother Nee Tuosheng (Watchman Nee).  However, soon he painfully discovered that in order to obtain legal status, the church had to take the Three-Self[1] path.  By the early 1950s, the Meeting Place made a series of decisions: participate in the holiday processions led by the Communist Party; invite the leader of the “Three Self” Wu Yaozong to preach at the Meeting Place; and conduct a “denunciation campaign” in the church. 

 

On April 21, 1951, the People’s Daily published an article entitled “Launch the Christians’ Denunciation Campaign Against American Imperialism.” This demanded that all the Christian organizations throughout the country “launch denunciations against imperialists and their running dogs on a wide scale.”  The Meeting Place decided to join this call for “denunciation.”  Watchman Nee himself personally mobilized everyone.   He emphasized one “viewpoint.” “You have to stand on the ‘people’s’ side and denounce the ‘imperialists.’  There were many things one could denounce.  The entire church body participated when the campaign was further mobilized on Long Jiang Road. 

 

At the time Weizun was just a young man of 25 years.  He couldn’t suppress the anger in his spirit and opposed the conduct of the “denunciation” campaign in the church.  Yet, no one paid attention to his opinion.  Weizun could only cry and pray on his own.  According to the testimony that he later wrote, the Lord spoke to him in his prayers: “Since Brother Nee wants you to denounce from the viewpoint of the ‘people,’ you should denounce from the viewpoint of the ‘people.’” 

 

On June 10, 1951, during the denunciation meeting held at Shanghai’s Nanyang Road Church, Wu Weizun spoke up and used sharp words that were intentionally exaggerated to engage in “denunciation.” “When we tell people the Gospel, we say everyone is a sinner.  If you do not accept Jesus as your own Savior, and ask Jesus to cover your sins with his blood.  You will not escape God’s Judgment.  Today I want to ask you, is Chairman Mao a sinner? He does not believe in Jesus.  Is he going to perish and go to hell? The people tried to hush him up.   Shh.  Where is this man coming from?  The result was mass chaos. 

 

A tall brother with glasses who was in charge of a house division of the church spoke up.  Nanyang Road Church was a very large church.  The congregation was divided into over 10 “houses” according to different districts.  Each “house” had about 100 people and was led by a “house brother or sister in charge.”  Later, the number of houses was expanded to over 20.  Groups made up each “house.” 

 

Another brother asked Liu Liangmo (the official  representative of the Three Self Movement), who presided over the meeting: Does the government allow us to propagate the Gospel or not?   Can we propagate the Lord’s Gospel?  Will the government permit such activity?  As a result, the entire denunciation meeting was unable to continue.  Liu Liangmo could only calm everyone and said a few words about the government’s policy being one that supports the freedom of religion and belief.  The meeting was then abruptly concluded.

 

The tall fellow who asked the question was later persecuted. 

 

 

Two months later, an elder of the Meeting Place notified Weizun to “stop partaking in the bread” because everyone believed that Weizun had already “given up the faith.”

 

It was not until 1964 that Weizun had the opportunity to restore communication with two members of the Nanyang Road Meeting Place.  At the time Weizun went to Beijing to conduct the baptismal service for a young man.  He discovered that the father of the young man was one of the brothers in charge of the houses at the Nanyang Road Church.  This elderly brother had always thought that Weizun had “given up the faith.”  Weizun wrote to him: “My denunciation at the time did not disobey the Lord and it did not signal that I had given up the faith.  Instead, I was following the Lord’s command to play a negative role.”  This elderly brother was very pleased when he received Weizun’s letter and shared this matter with another elder Brother Du Zhongchen.  They were very pleased about this revelation.

 

This is a rather controversial matter in Weizun’s testimony.  Fifty years later, when Weizun recalled this matter, he still felt that he was playing the negative role that interfered with the denunciation meeting.  His heart was at peace.

 

Preparation to be “Worthy”

 

In 1955, the wife of Weizun’s third older brother introduced a sister who was working in Tianjing to him.  After they started correspondence, Weizun asked the sister: Are you willing to be my partner on the narrow road of the cross that I walk?  Only after the sister had agreed that they decided on a marriage relationship.  In the summer of 1957, Wu Weizun, because of marriage, was assigned to Tianjin.  God had taken him to a new battleground.

 

In the China of 1957, the revolutionary atmosphere was becoming stronger.  Campuses were engaged in the heartless “anti-rightist” campaign.  In the new environment, Weizun continued his past pratice of giving thanks before each meal.  During the noon rest period, he even took out the Bible to read quietly.  On Sundays, the entire faculty of the school would go the nearby villages to engage in labor activities, but he would request a half-day off to “congregate and worship God.”  His colleagues at the school thought he was strange: “This teacher from Shanghai is so religiously superstitious!  How can he be a teacher?”  Soon after, he was sent down to the villages in the countryside to engage in labor activities.

 

The original objective of the school for sending him down to the countryside was to reform his thinking.  However, in the two years that he was in the countryside, he used the labor venues as the fields of harvest for the gospel.  That era was the dark age when Christ’s gospel was not heard anywhere within China and when there was no spiritual light shining on China.  Weizun once again pondered upon the grace of God and the tasks with which God had entrusted him.  He thought: God did not make me a preacher or an evangelist.  He allowed me to be an ordinary Christian.  Am I unable to fulfill even this small responsibility?  He was determined to be faithful in this smallest thing and to be faithful until the end.  Therefore, regardless of the person, as long as someone asked about the truths of the Lord, he would share the gospel without any reservation.

 

When he was sent down to the small group for studying, he saw that the objective of the labor activities was to “facilitate the reform of cadres to adopt a materialist worldview and a communist perspective on life.”  He then proceeded to speak up in the small group: “I am a Christian and will always be a Christian.  I cannot and does not plan to reform and transform my self to become a Marxist.  I am unable to heed the call of the party’s central committee.”  The head of the small group regretted his decision and said openly in the group: “If based solely on the fact that you have been living a harsh lifestyle and the proactive nature of your labor activities, you are qualified to become a good communist party member.  However, in terms of ideological reform, you will not be able to pass the bar.  Nonetheless, even if you cannot pass the bar on account of ideological reform, I can let you get by under the justification of “religious belief.”  But the fact that you have been spreading religious superstitions has made things much more serious.  You will therefore be unable to pass the bar.”

 

In those days, Wu Weizun bore tremendous pressures.  One day at noon, he went to a well about one kilometer away to obtain water.  The sky was completely overcast with thunder and lightening.  It looked as if a heavy downpour would take place at any time.  In the event of a rainstorm, the dirt road would become mud and he would be unable to walk on it.  He looked at the clouds, thunder, and lightening that filled the sky.  Suddenly, it was as if God had moved him; he extended his right hand and screamed at the rain that was already coming down: “Stop!”  As a result, just like God had rebuked the wind and the rain in the past, the thunder and the lightening quickly stopped, the rain ended, and the clouds gradually dissipated!  This was the first time that Weizun had witnessed a miracle.  He knew that even though he was living under threats and pressures, God was using this miracle to comfort him, solidify his faith.  He clearly understood: My God is alive and he is in charge of the heaven, the earth, and all the creations!

 

After two years of labor in the villages, he was assigned to a cotton processing plant in a district in the northeastern suburb of Tianjin to continue labor reform.  Two years later, he was reassigned to the original school.  However, because his ideological reform was unsuccessful, he could not be a teacher of the people.  He could only be a researcher of physics in the laboratory.

 

In the seven years between 1957 and 1964, the overall situation in China was becoming ever more tense.  The spiritual battles were also becoming more and more intense.  God was pruining Weizun with even greater severity to prepare his heart and mind for the work that would eventually be entrusted to him.

 

Since the latter half of the 1950s, Wu Weizun began to write “Correspondence in the Body of the Lord” on carbon papers to be sent to different parts of China so as to strengthen the spiritual exchanges between the different members of the body of Christ in different areas.  In the early part of 1960s, he began to engage in regular fasting.  In spring 1964, God allowed him to be prepared to be “worthy.”  At that time, he found out through his correspondence with a brother in the original [Shouzhen] Church that a brother with whom he was close had been imprisoned for fulfilling the responsibility to spread the gospel, which was entrusted to him.  This young brother was betrayed by the head of the [Shouzhen] Church Jiang Mongguang.  The young man was a faithful servant of the Lord and one who was chosen by the Lord, received his training in Jia Yuming’s seminary, and was a fellow deacon at the [Shouzhen] Church.  Weizun’s heart was deeply moved after reading this letter.  He was filled with thanksgiving for this young brother.  He also envied this young brother because the brother had listened to the Lord’s command and was worthy to be humiliated and tortured for the name of the Lord.  He prayed fervently for the imprisoned young brother.  In his prayers, Weizun heard the Lord asking him: “He is worthy, are you worthy?”  He immediately said to the Lord in tears: “O Lord, I want to be worthy, I want to be worthy!”  From that day on, he was even more alert and prepared to be “worthy” at a moment’s notice.

 

The Road of the Cross

 

Two months later, on 30 July in 1964, Wu Weizun was arrested.  When the public security officers appeared before him with a “summon” and a “search warrant,” he was not a bit anxious as a result of the Lord’s grace.  He held his wife’s hands and said the two most important words: “Rely [on the] Lord.”  He then got into the jeep.  At approximately 10 o’clock in the morning, the car proceeded to the public security bureau.  The things outside the car window moved behind him.  Wu Weizun raised his head to look at the sky and his heart was filled with peace.  He knew that God had assigned him to a new battlefield, one that was even more dangerous and threatening but also more important.  The fact that he was worthy to testify for the Lord in that battlefield was truly his honor!  Since he had made the decision in 1945 to carry the cross and follow the Lord for the rest of his life, now was not the time to look back but rather to walk courageously ahead on the road of the cross.                 

 

Naturally, the simple reason for Weizun’s arrest was his faith.  1964 was the time when the entire nation was involved in the “Four Clean-Ups Campaign.”  His school’s principal had already publicly criticized him: “In our school, religious superstitious activities have been very apparent.”  In addition, Weizun had also baptized others and wrote “Correspondence in the Body of the Lord” to be disseminated to different places.  He once wrote a letter to a young man to encourage him: “Since you have already believed the Lord and become a Christian, you should openly acknowledge the Lord’s name, withdraw your membership from the Communist Youth League, and walk the path of the Lord.”  This young man’s withdrawal from the youth league increased the public security bureau’s attention on Weizun: He was “fighting the Communist Party for the next generation.” 

 

In reality, Weizun was initially not “arrested,” only “summoned.”  From man’s perspective, his arrest was entirely the result of his “lack of pragmatism.”  In his heart, Weizun believed: Going to prison was something that he had wished upon himself; it also wasn’t the decision of the public security bureau for him to go to prison; rather, it was the Lord who led him to the prison.  God wanted him to become a good Christian as a prisoner; to obey the Lord’s command as a prisoner and follow God’s will.  Therefore, once he entered prison, he established for himself a fighting principle in the spiritual conflict: When interrogated, he would “refuse to respond, refuse to explain, refuse to admit his crimes, and refuse to repent.”

 

Over a month after he entered prison, he maintained these four-noes principles during the eight times that he was interrogated.  During the seventh interrogation, he was forced to write responses to five questions.  He prayed as he wrote his responses.  The fourth question was: “How has the government’s policy of religious freedom been correctly implemented and executed?”  He responded directly and truthfully: It was precisely this type of so-called policy of the “freedom of belief and religion” that has led to actions that include the banning of and attacks on many churches in the country and the arrest, imprisonment, and conviction of many Christians and servants of God for their refusal to accept the party’s leadership of God’s church and God’s servants.  My own arrest and imprisonment is a piece of new proof in this regard.

 

The fifth and last question read: “How do you assess the Three Self Patriotic Movement that was initiated by the country’s Christian community?”  Initially, he wanted to respond to this question from an affirmative perspective.  Yet, suddenly he did not feel at peace.  The Holy Spirit shined upon him, so he wrote the following words:

 

Just when I was prepared to write down my response based on biblical truths regarding the assessment of the “Three Self” movement, the Holy Spirit suddenly stopped me and refused to allow me to write.  The Spirit also showed me a biblical verse.  This verse was: “Do not give to the dog things that are holy and do not throw pearls before the pig, out of concern that it would defile the pearls and turn around and bite you.”  Therefore, I will not respond to this question from the affirmative perspective.  Note: The “dog” and “pig” to which the Lord Jesus referred were not actual dog and pig.  Rather, he was referring to people who “did not treat things that are holy as holy” and those who “do not treat pearls as treasures.”

 

His response caused a great uproar.  During the eighth interrogation, the interrogator angrily said: “There have been countless great pastors and great evangelists who have gone through my hands, and yet I have not seen anyone as reckless as you!”  After the eighth interrogation, the interrogator gave him an arrest warrant and said that he “was eating the fruit of his own labor.”  He calmly signed the warrant.  The light of the Lord shined upon him once again.  He said to himself: “Although I am not a great pastor, a great evangelist, but as long as depend closely on the Lord, rely on the Lord’s mercy, follow the Lord faithfully, and do not avoid the cross that I should bear, then I can also achieve victory and be a good witness in front of man.”

 

After the Conviction, Follow the Lord until the End

 

In February 1967, the court issued his sentence: life imprisonment.  When he received the sentence, his heart was very peaceful and filled with thanksgiving.  He immediately thought: “The servant cannot be greater than the master.  My Lord Jesus whose cup from the Father was death, not life imprisonment.  Moreover, it was nailing on the cross, which was the most humiliating, cruel, and painful (even God the Father left Him) death sentence.  The cup that God the Father gave me is comparably much lighter by several times.  He event kept my life and that my body still remains healthy….  When the Lord received his death sentence on the cross, he accepted with a glad heart and in obedience.  I have only been given life imprisonment, why can’t I be like the Lord and accept it with a glad heart and in obedience?  The Lord once said: You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with….(Mark 10:39)  Since God the Father has shown me mercy today and gave me this cup, I should drink the cup that the Father gave me, until the end.”

 

In general, convicted prisoners were allowed to meet with their families.  He also wrote to his wife to tell her that he had accepted the conviction, asking her to meet him.  He also asked her to bring to him another washbasin because the original one already had a hole.  He hoped to see his wife to speak a few more words to her.  After the letter was sent and on the date that they were to meet, the captain (the disciplinary cadre in the reform-through-labor team) gave him a washbasin from his home, but his wife did not show up.  Weizun wrote again, including some encouraging words in the Lord.  The captain scolded him for writing “muddled” things and refused to send the letter for him.

 

After some time, the court sent a cadre to tell Weizun that his wife wanted to divorce him.  This was a completely unexpected piece of news to Weiun.  He immediately prayed about it.  It was during the height of the Cultural Revolution.  At a time and in an environment of unprecedented danger, his wife was alone in the world and undoubtedly bore considerable pressure.  He understood her weakness and agreed to the divorce.  They did not have children and Weizun did not ask for shares in any property.  Therefore, the whole matter was finished with his signature.

 

Weizun never regretted marrying the sister because at the time of the marriage he was certain that the two of them would walk together on the narrow path of the cross.  Now that the sister has weakened and retreated from the path of the cross, Weizun only felt sorry for her and prayed for her.

 

According to some reports, she later married an old laborer.  However, this did not release her from the pressurized environment of the Cultural Revolution.  After the divorce, Weizun was even more carefree.  He thought, although I am alone, I will bear the cross from the rest of my life and follow the Lord until the end.

 

Defending the Field of Lentils

 

“Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory.”

-- II Samuel 23:11-12 

 

After Weizun was imprisoned, he could not remember clearly the verse and chapter references of this passage.  However, he remembered the content of these two verses.  David’s warrior Shammah stood in a field full of lentils.  Confronting a multitude of Philistines, he defended that field of lentils and did not retreat even one step.  As a result, he changed the entire battle, ensuring that the Israelites would emerge victorious in the face of defeat.  Defending that field of lentils thus became the key to securing the victory.  The Lord shined upon Weizun, allowing him to know clearly that insisting on saying grace before meals is the “field of lentils” in the spiritual warfare that was being waged inside the prison.  He had to defend this field.

 

Once he entered prison, he would say grace before meals.  He did not hide his action and he was unafraid that others would see him because this was a testimonial.  The instructor in the prison declared to him: “If you want to eat, then you cannot read (say grace).  If you read (say grace), then you cannot eat.”  Weizun then gave his bowl and chopsticks to the administrator and refused to eat.  Four or five days later, the judge at the hearing scolded him: “Not eating and conducting a hunger strike are acts of refusing the dictatorship of the proletariat.”  Yet, Weizun insisted: “I certainly do not have any intention of conducting a hunger strike and seeking death.  I only want to say grace before my meals.”  In the light of this situation, the prison authorities could only change the hearing judge and made some minor compromises.  They allowed Weizun to eat at times while denying him food at others because they would not allow him to say grace.

 

Half a year later, Weizun’s sufferings increased.  He was forced to wear a set of heavy handcuffs.  This set of handcuffs was heavy and cold, imposing much pain and suffering on him.  He could not sleep at night.  However, the Lord was with him and personally led him in the battle.  He declared once again: He would not eat if he’s not allowed to say grace.  From this day forward, he would no longer eat the food provided by the government if he was not permitted to say grace.  Two days later, the detention center removed his handcuffs.  In the meantime, the detention center organized seven or eight prisoners to “help” him.  The staff of the detention center would stand outside his cell door to observe.  One prisoner would strike Weizun’s chin with his fist.  In that one moment, his mouth was filled with blood, which dripped on his body and the floor.  This prisoner would yell at him: Stand up!  Stand at attention!  At the same time, he would shout out commands: “Walk two steps forward!  Turn around!….”  Meanwhile, he demanded Weizun to answer his provocative questions.  If he did not respond, the prisoner would use his two hands to “slap! slap!…”, hit Weizun’s cheeks from the left and the right.   

 

During this inhuman torture, the Lord’s words constantly echoed in Weizun’s ears and lingered in his mind.  “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Matthew 5:39-41).  “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)  Thanks to the Lord, the Lord’s words became the sharp weapons in his hands during his battles.  Facing the commands of that evil one, Weizun obeyed and did as he was told.  As for those provocative questions, he followed the Lord’s way and was silent.  Listen to the Lord’s words and act according the Lord’s will place one on solid grounds and achieve victory in battle.

 

After two hours of repeated physical abuses and torture, that prison became tired and declared that the “criticism session” was over.  The head of the detention center asked him: “How do you feel about everyone helping you?  Are you willing to accept the help?”  He answered: “Director, I have no complaints about anything that the government or the prisoners do to me.  I gladly accept whatever you do to me.”  The director thought that he had surrendered and was very happy.  He said: “You did the right thing.  You should have changed your ways earlier.  Why suffer so much?….”

 

Weizun heard the response from the director and thought that the director might have mistaken his words.  He immediately added: “Director, you are mistaken.  The fact that I gladly accept your actions toward me without complaints does not mean that I will not listen to the Lord Jesus from this day on.  As a Christian, listening to the words of the Lord Jesus will also be the priority.  I must listen to the Lord Jesus and will continue to do so.”  The director of the detention center was incredulous and was enraged: “Fine, fine.  You insist on your reactionary position and remain stubborn until the end.  This makes things easy for me!  We shall see in the days to come!”

 

Weizun once again returned to the large cell.  After insisting on fasting for seven days, he was taken to an empty room.  Several prison administrators twisted his arms with one person pressing on his head from the back.  They stuffed a metal instrument into his mouth and forcibly inserted a feeding tube to pour food into his stomach.  The whole process was extremely difficult to endure.  However, Weizun did not resist.  After the forced feeding, once the tube was removed and the metal instrument was removed, he stood up and loudly gave thanks: “I thank the Heavenly Father for using this method to keep me alive!”  He gave a testimony of thanksgiving in the presence of the director and all others.  Thereafter, every time the prison administrators forced buns into his mouth, he would look up at the sky and say loudly: “I thank the Heavenly Father for using this method to keep me alive!”

 

In July 1966, the procuratorate’s statement of charges against him was thus recorded: “The prisoner has been imprisoned for a long time and has used the excuse of “saying grace before meals” to engage in illegal activities and damage prison discipline.  On numerous occasions, he has even employed fasting as a means to resist the dictatorship of the proletariat….”

 

After Weizun was officially sentenced to life imprisonment, he was transferred from the Tianjin detention center to the Tianjin reform-through-labor bureau.  One month later, he was assigned to the reform-through-labor team in a steel factory in the city of Pingluo in Ningxia province.  It was the height of the Cultural Revolution.  He still maintained his faith and insisted on his “refusal to be reformed.”  He was willing to pay the price for his refusal.  Weizun insisted on not reading Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book,” not answering any questions, not singing the revolutionary songs, and not hailing long life to Chairman Mao.  The group leader and other members of the group ordered him to kowtow to the pictures of Chairman Mao, and he refused.  For this reason, over 10 persons kicked and hit him.  He was resigned to lying in the dirt and let them kick and him him.  This was the first time that he was beaten in the reform-through-labor team.  After this incident, he was beaten numerous times.  Some people whipped him with leather belts, some hit his cheeks with the shoe bottoms, and others used wooden clubs to strike the top of his head.  There was even one team leader who used a lighted smoke pipe to burn his nostrils.  Weizun believed that all of these inhuman tortures were “permitted by the Lord and therefore are of benefits to me.”

 

Just as the case when he was at the detention center, the reform-throug-labor team leader announced to him: “If you want to eat, then you cannot pray; if you pray then you cannot eat.”  Weizun knew that the campaign to “defend the field of lentils” has entered an even more difficult phase because it was the height of the Cultural Revolution and the entire labor team would cease production for six months to engage in Cultural Revolution studies.  However, he firmly believed that the Lord who sent him would ensure that his “strength [would] equal his days.” 

 

The war began.  He would no longer eat for which he could say grace.  One day, two days…when he had not eaten for four and five days and was extremely weak, he was forced to run as a punishment.  When he did not eat for the seventh day, after night fell, he was taken to an empty room where he suffered scolding and where four people started to him until he became unconscious.  He later recalled: Thank the Lord; it was so good to be unconscious.  There was no pain once you became unconscious.  He was repeatedly tortured and beaten and forced fed.  However, because his body had undergone too much torture, he would vomit the food.  The leader of the labor team would then force him to clean the things he vomited by licking them with his tongues.  He would prostrate on the ground to lick the things he had vomited.  He was beaten until the latter half of the nigh when the team leader instructed other prisoners to spray water on him.  This type of torture would continue for several days.  The wounds that he incurred would only be healed after one to two years. 

 

The Chinese historical texts always record different types of corporal punishments that are in the prisons.  They also record numerous and generation after generation of tough individuals who have been thoroughly tortured yet refused to surrender.  The difference is that although Weizun had borne all the tortures and refused to surrender, he was not a tough guy.  He was meek and weak.  Those who beat him would ask him after they became tired of beating him: Do you hate us?  Weizun said: Not one bit and I have no complaint against anyone.  This was because his Lord had even prayed for those who nailed Him to the cross.

 

Finally, although he was still not permitted to say grace while in prison, there would be one meal in three days that was an exception.  When it was time for the meal, he was taken to an isolated empty room.  One group leader would watch him eat.  He would then be able to eat a meal for which he technically could not say grace but in actually could.  Later, the prison’s party secretary (the most senior leader of the prison) said to him: If you want to say grace before meals, we will allow you to do so in your heart.  If you express it openly and affect other prisoners, we will not permit it.  When Weizun heard this, he became alarmed.  The Lord’s light had shined upon him: You cannot even make this one compromise!  He replied: “Party Secretary, our Christian faith is a function of a close connection between faith and expressed deeds.  Faith without deeds is not true faith, but dead faith, phony faith.  It is natural that true faith must have its corresponding expression through deeds.  I cannot satisfy the conditions that were outlined by the party secretary.”  The negotiation had failed and no agreement was reached.  The war of eating one meal every three days could only continue, until the six-month of concentrated Cultural Revolution studies and movement ended.

 

The Prisoner among Prisoners

 

Two years later, on September 10, 1970, he was assigned to Group One in Squad One.  It was the toughest group where the most recalcitrant prisoners have been reformed after joining the group.  After he went there, the group leader officially made the initial demands, which were very simple.  There were only two demands.  First, he would not say grace before each meal.  Second, he would read the Little Red Book.  He did not need to do both at the same time.  He would only have to do one of the two and the choice was his.  He immediately and clearly said to the group leader: He would not be able to satisfy any of the two demands.  The contradiction has intensified.  Suddenly, he became the target of struggle and the heart of attack by all the prisoners in the group.  All the contradictions and criticisms targeted toward others were temporarily put aside.  The group leader and all the other prisoners in the group concentrated their firepower and used every conceivable method to make things difficult for him and to torture him.

 

Once, they said: As long as Weizun was willing to read (read aloud or recite) one sentence in the Little Red Book or say “long life [literally, tens of thousands of years]” or “boundless life” to Chairman Mao, then they would permit him to say grace before meals.  He would then thought about this proposal before the Lord: He remembered that the Bible’s teachings include the words “fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17) and “I tell you that you must first supplicate, pray, beseech, and give thanks for the tens of thousands; and do the same for the kings (political leaders) and all who are in power.”  Therefore, he said before everyone in the group: “I wish Chairman Mao and Vice-Chairman Lin good heath.”  They all shouted with joy: “It’s possible!  It’s possible!”  Although there were two or three people who remained unsatisfied because he did not say “long live” or “boundless life,” but someone said: “Don’t be impatient, we’ll take it slow.  There is hope!”

 

That day, they were very good to Weizun.  They filled his stomach with three meals.  On the next day, the group leader and everyone in the group said to him: “Today, you have made progress.  Don’t say what you said yesterday; just say: “Long life to Chairman Mao,” “Boundless life to Chairman Mao.”  However, after trying to persuade him for a long time and after waiting for a long time, Weizun was still unwilling to change his words, regardless of whether they allowed him to eat.  They were extremely furious and did not give Weizun anything to eat.

 

Some one said to him privately: Why were you willing to wish Chairman Mao good health but were unwilling to call out “Long life to Chairman Mao” or “boundless life”?

 

Weizun replied: The former was a prayer to the supreme God on behalf of the political leaders.  Such a prayer would please God because it places the supreme God in the first place.  The latter treats Chairman Mao as a god and in essence places the leader in the highest position.  God despise and is displeased by such a prayer.  Moreover, it is impossible to live “tens of thousands of years.”  Even live to 100 years old is difficult to do.  Furthermore, Chairman Mao will never have “boundless life.”  Rather, his life will be “bounded.”  Therefore, why should I say nonsense that does not adhere to God’s will?

 

The time spent in Squad One was the last and most difficult part of the battle to defend the field of lentils.  However, he said: “I thank the Lord that I am a free man!”  He said this because he insisted on the principle of “no.”  He insisted on being “unreformed.”  Therefore, those “reformed” regulations could not bind him, could not constrain him.

 

The Third Moment of Weakness

 

Yet, he understood that his strength and freedom were entirely dependent on God’s grace.  If he had departed from the Lord, he would have fallen long ago.  He recorded the three moments of weakness that he experienced.  The first time was during the initial period after liberation when he was a middle school teacher.  During the movement of ideological reform, there was a time when he was rewarded by his superiors.  Afterwards, he unconsciously wanted to work harder to run on the worldly path.  He began to grow distant from God and he did not love the Lord like he used to.  However, thank God, two weeks later, the Holy Spirit shined upon him, allowing him to see the crisis that he was experiencing on the spiritual path.  By depending on the Lord’s strength, he was able to restore the intimate relationship that he had with God.

 

The second time was in 1956 when he was teaching at the Tongji Middle School in Shanghai.  There was someone at another unit who wanted to transfer him.  The person took a picture of a young man and asked whether he knew the man in the picture.  He recognized that the young man was the brother in Christ who in 1951 had taken away his speech during the “denunciation movement,” and said so.  Afterwards, Weizun was extremely disturbed.  He predicted that this brother was at the time already under investigation.  He did not know whether his identification (although it was the truth) would bring about even worse consequences for the brother.  Weizun did not know at the time where he had gone wrong.  He later understood that he should not have said anything because in so doing, he was “confessing.”  As a result of his “confession,” the brother could suffer.  Therefore, later, he established for himself the principle of “no talking and no confession,” so as to avoid offending God.

 

The third time was after he was arrested in 1966.  Once, the hearing official showed him a piece of paper with a picture of a map of China.  The center of the map was Tianjin.  Quite a few lines radiated from the center to every part of the country to illustrate his relationships with the members of the body of Christ in other parts of the country.  The hearing official said: If you find this map to be correct, then sign your name at the bottom.  At this time, Weizun was not very alert and actually signed his name.  Once he returned to the prison cell, the Holy Spirit shined upon him: Why did he sign?  Wasn’t signing tantamount to confession?  As a result, that day when the group leader threatened to take away his food, he became afraid and began to eat very quickly.  He was afraid that the food would be taken away.  As a consequence, that night he suffered from diarrhea.  It was already after the restroom breaks, he couldn’t go to the restroom so he had to use a large urine can.  He was scolded by his cellmates.  On the next day, he declared that he was wrong in signing the document on the previous day and asked that the document be voided.  He also asked God to forgive him for his weakness and failure, and to correct and restore him, as well as to lead him to fight the battle that lie ahead.  Since that moment he recognized: He was neither better nor stronger than others.  Without the Lord’s mercy, he would sin and fail as usual, and possibly fail even worse than others.  From this failure, he knew that there was nothing about him that deserved boasting.  He could only rely on the Lord ever more.

 

The Life Prisoner outside the Wall

 

At the end of the 1970s, the wind of reform and opening blew across the great land of China.  It was also blown into Yinchuan’s “Ningxia Regional Prison,” otherwise known as the Yinchuan Fan Factory.

 

Many among the over 200 prisoners in the Tianjin system who were serving life sentences in Ningxia had already received reductions in sentencing or release.  During the mid-1970s, there were still six “unreformed” persons.  In 1978, there were only two such persons.  In 1979, one of these two prisoners re-appealed his sentence and was released in that year.  Until then, there was only one among the 200-plus prisoners who remained and he was Weizun.

 

At the time, the wind to write appeals and seek rehabilitation was blowing hard.  Many people told him to appeal and seek rehabilitation.  However, he clearly said: I will not appeal.  In Spring 1981, during the annual reward and punishment assembly held for the entire prison, the prison authority announced that he was also on the list of those who would receive sentence reductions.  The sentence-reduction verdict of Ningxia’s Superior Court wrote that his life sentence had been reduced to six years imprisonment.  In other words, he would be released after six years.  The verdict of the Ningxia Superior Court argued that he positively participated in labor reform, was earnest in teaching, and adhered to the regulations and disciplines of the prison.  This verdict indicated that he had expressed repentance, confirming that he had “indeed repented.”  For this reason, his sentence was reduced.  Yet, he believes: This sentence reduction and the freedom in six years were not given to him without a price; they had to be paid by the notion that he had “indeed repented.”  “Repentance” suggests that he would treat the things that the Lord had entrusted to him in the past as “sins.”  However, that would be to humiliate the Lord and to resist God.  He though, if he agreed to this “repentance,” wouldn’t the war that he had fought all these years essentially be fought in vain?  Wouldn’t the sufferings he had borne be borne in vain?  Is this filthy “freedom” so worthy of his envy?  Could he discard the cross that the Lord had given him on this matter?  Therefore, he rather chose the path of “others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35) and refused to be released.

 

On May 28, 1987, the day when he was forced to leave the prison, he wrote the “submission on the day of release” to the region’s highest People’s Court.  In the submission, he once again made clear the fact that he had not “repented.”  He said:

 

Here, I have no choice but to risk the suspicion that I am protesting against the government and the dictatorship of the proletariat (I think that the court may be able to understand) and concretely and briefly describe my absolutely and completely unrepentant actions during the twenty-some years in prison since July 1964:

 

On July 30, 1964, I was summoned by the Public Security Bureau in Tianjian.  Since the first hearing, other than my name, I have stopped providing answers to all questions posed by the hearing official.  In actuality, I continue to refuse to explain any crime.  (Naturally, when I was honest they were lenient and when I was resistant they were severe.  From this point the situation was gradually escalated: from summon to detention, to arrest, to indictment, and to the sentence of life imprisonment.)  After I was held for one and half year under this condition of refusing to explain any crime, the head hearing official had tried one more time to persuade me to change my ways.  He selected a few items among my crimes and initiated the effort to open up, clarify, and even point out the errors among these cases.  He urged me to consider after returning to the prison.  The next day, my answer to him was: “I have no regrets over the things that you have mentioned yesterday.”  Another half year later, in the intermediate court’s courtroom, other than my name and a response to one question (Question: Are you a Christian?  Answer: Yes, I am a Christian), I still did not respond to all the questions posed to me.

 

In the twenty-plus years that I have been serving my sentence, I have refused to remark, write, and participate in any matter that is related, even indirectly, with “confession” or the “reform of the criminal nature.”  In the twenty-plus years in prison, I have not made one remark, expressed my attitude, discussed my understanding, or respond to related questions from the cadres and other prisoners in numerous large meetings, small meetings, study sessions, discussions, and seminars.  In fact, I was so cautious as to have failed to read aloud one piece of document, newspaper, or the Little Red Book; I didn’t even sing one revolutionary song.  All of these things were done to avoid becoming entangled with the “reform of the criminal nature.”  I have never written one time or one word during the numerous occasions when each prisoner was required to write guarantees, reform plans, ideological reports, reform summaries or briefings, and even the required “reform diary.”  In the numerous examinations on politics, current affairs, ethics, laws, and other topics, other than my name, my exam papers were always blank.  The countless aforementioned facts and actions demonstrate (if the court will conduct a little investigation, it will not be difficult to see that all these actions were consistent and irrefutable facts) that I have not the least accepted the “reform of criminal thoughts and criminal nature” that I was forced to be engaged in while I was serving my sentence.  I have refused them all.

 

As for the point mentioned in the verdict that I had “complied with the disciplining,” I did not comply every time.  In fact, I had made clear distinctions between the two kinds of situations that were of different nature and I treated each one accordingly.  On the first kind of disciplining, as mentioned earlier, I have never complied in the least with the countless measures of reform and discipline that the prison authority had conducted on me.  I have refused all of them and stubbornly maintained such resistance for over 20 years, until today.

 

On the second kind, with respect to the other regulations, orders, and arrangements that were unrelated to my “reform of the criminal thoughts and criminal nature,” to which, subjectively speaking, I had adhered and with which I had complied.  However, was the latter part of the second kind of disciplining – the action of “complying with the disciplining” – a “demonstration of my repentance”?  On the contrary, it was not a demonstration of my “compliance with the disciplining.”  None of it was the consequence of repentance.  In fact, it was my “demonstration of non-repentance.”  The reason is that before I entered prison, I had always taken the same position with respect to similar cases.  Can anyone point out which point was a function of my repentance?

 

The verdict also noted that I had “worked proactively.”  It was probably referring to the fact that I was more attentive and diligent when engaged in the production labor and the subsequent teaching.  Even if one does not list certain unavoidable weaknesses and mistakes on my part, even if there were indeed a few things that were worthy of praise, none of it was a demonstration of my repentance.  On the contrary, all of them were demonstrations of my unrepentance for things that I had done consistently before becoming imprisoned.

 

If one put together all my deeds while I was serving my sentence, was there any major item or minor items such as the utterance of one sentence or the display of one gesture that was genuinely said, written, or done which reflected my repentance?  If there was, I am willing to admit that I did “indeed have demonstrations of repentance.”  If so, there would perhaps be no shame in receiving a sentence reduction.  Yet, if you’re unable to fine one little cases, then why must you violate the principle of “seeking truth from facts” and insist on imposing the disingenuous label of “repentance” on a prisoner who has been completely unrepentant just so that he would receive a sentence reduction that would allow him to be released?  Even more importantly, as a Christian, I should not commit the evil of assuming a “label” that was not mine to assume.  Not only am I not shown “demonstrations of repentance,” I actually “indeed have no demonstration of repentance.”  All of my actions were displays of unrepentance and do not meet the fundamental conditions that would lead to a reduction in sentence.  I can only remain a prisoner for life.

 

Since during these six years, the court never retracted this erroneous verdict that does not seek truth from the facts and has not verity, and since, as a prisoner of the dictatorship, I was unqualified to force the court to do anything, I am “forced” to have no normal course of action except to take one of the two following steps starting this day of release.  First, I will not use the certificate of release to process any post-release procedures.  I will not return to Tianjin or be reunited with my relatives in the south.  I will not enjoy any freedoms and rights obtained from this erroneous verdict.  I will not depart from the prison and go anywhere and to any unit to receive any employment (including the work of a permanently stationed factory laborer).  The reason is that even though I have reluctantly (in order not to resist the prison’s law enforcement duties) gone to the other side of these prison walls, I would remain a prisoner who was given a life sentence.  (Even though I will not admit to the crime and will absolutely refuse to repent, I nonetheless maintain an attitude of “sincere and joyful compliance” with the life sentence.  From now on, I will maintain this attitude and accept the situation imposed upon me with no complaint.)  Second, starting with this day of release, I will engage in limited fasting.  (As long as there is no external interference or imposition, I will stay within the scope of this limited fasting.  In other words, I will maintain the continuation of life.  However, if others interfere or impose force against me, this vow will no longer apply.)  This act of fasting is intended to demonstrate the following two points.  First, I have not the least repentance for all my “crimes.”  Second, and therefore, the verdict that was handed to me in 1981 was wrong and did not fit with the facts.  I refuse to accept this erroneous verdict.  In so doing, I want to allow the court to have sufficient time to conduct an investigation for the purpose of understanding the situation and eventually reconsider its decision.  If that day arrives, when the erroneous verdict is retracted and canceled, which also means that the label of “repentance” that has been assigned to me has also been canceled, it naturally implies that the original position of a prisoner serving a life sentence has been restored to me.  Then I shall be happy to end this act of fasting and do what I am required to do.

 

Moreover, I hereby attach a declaration.  Since the Gang of Four was crushed, especially since the Third Plenum of the 11th Party Congress, the overall situation of the nation has greatly improved.  In terms of policy, there has been great increase in latitude.  The treatment and punishment of the prisoners have increasingly improved.  These are developments for all to see and cannot be denied.  I have experienced and am profoundly grateful for the concerns, care, and the preferential treatments extended to me by the leaders and the management cadres of the prison.  I herewith express my thanks to the prison’s leadership, section chiefs, and other cadres.  (Of course, what is said here has no relation to the aforementioned great matter.)  I hereby submit this special report and give my salute.

 

 

Wu Weizun

 The Prisoner for Life Who is Outside the Prison Walls

May 28, 1987 (Esther: The Chinese way: the date is at the end of letter)

 

 

In the last six years that he was in prison, he clearly understood the last stage of the task of witnessing with which God has entrusted him, which was to execute the two limitations that God had given him.  First, to fast at designated times.  This action serves to testify his unchanging Christian heart.  Since he left the prison, he would eat on Mondays and Thursdays, and fast on the other days.  Second, he would not take one step outside the city of Yinchuan or away from the prison.  He kept his position and status as the “prisoner for life outside the prison walls.”  After he left the prison, he stayed in a dilapidated room that was 14.6 square meters in size that God had provided to him through the prison.  He never took one step outside Yinchuan.

 

When Wu Weizun was executing these two limitations, he would often receive many “persuasive obstructions.”  The leader of the prison did what he was supposed to do, to persuade Wu Weizun to give up his fasting and eat meals on a normal basis.  He even took some people from the “Three-Self Church” to persuade him.  In addition, his relatives and many brothers and sisters in Christ tried to persuade him to leave Yinchuan and go elsewhere to serve God.  However, he graciously refused their efforts and was fearful of canceling the regular fasting on his own.  He was also not willing to leave Yinchuan to go elsewhere.  The reason was that he clearly understood that God had already used the illustration of the man of God in Chapter 13 of First Kings to admonish him.  God had already told the man of God that he “must not eat bread or drink water [at Bethel] or return by the way you came.”  However, the man of God listened to the old prophet and violated God’s command, and died as a result.

 

China’s Epaphras

 

During the 1900 Boxer religious persecution, tens of thousands of Western missionaries and Chinese Christians were martyred.  At the same time, a group of important servants who would be used greatly by God during the 20th century, including Wang Mingdao, Nee Tuosheng (Watchman Nee), and Song Shangjie, were born around this time.  About a quarter century later, a generation of individuals who were especially called by God, including Wu Weizun, Lin Xiangao (Samuel Lamb), and Li Musheng, were born.  The Lord who oversees the universe, time, and history created generation after generation of Chinese to follow him.  Generation after generation, He also called, chose, molded, and used those Chinese who pleased Him.  Undoubtedly, those who were born in the 1920s and were of the same generation as Wu Weizun were members of a special generation who were built up by God through a special historical setting.

 

These individuals were born in the uncertain 1920s.  Since childhood, they have tasted the bitterness of poverty, wars, and chaos.  Yet, God’s grace descended upon them.  The bumpy wandering road actually led them to the gate of eternal salvation.  In the national territory that had succumbed to foreign forces, they became the citizens of the kingdom of heaven.  God also used the group of missionaries who were born in the 1900s, such as Wang Mingdao, to spiritually nurture them and built them up.  Moreover, He gave them a major revival in the 1940s, because at that time “the night is coming when no one can work.”  That was the eve of the great darkness and the great war.  God prepared, built up, and strengthened for himself a group of people who would shine in the darkness.

 

After 1949, Wu Weizun and those in his generation all experienced sufferings and trials during the latter half of the 20th century.  They all experienced daily and enduring persecution, struggle, inspection, accusation, humiliation, beating, and imprisonment.  This long and seemingly endless suffering mercilessly inspected everyone’s faith.  There were many who martyred and there were many who fell, weakened, and retreated.  Yet, God has wondrously “reserve[d] seven thousand – all whose knees have bowed down to Baal.”  Today, although these “seven thousand” people who persisted to the end are already old, they still hold the ambition of “an old horseman who still ride thousands of miles.’  They continue to give all their effort and with loyalty stand their guard until the last shift.  They are undoubtedly the treasure and wealth of the Chinese church.

 

Yet, God has led each of them in different ways and used each of them differently from the others.  There were some who martyred during the great sufferings and have rested in the Lord.  There were others who after serving over 20 years in prison have immediately restored their original ministries.  After their release, these individuals re-opened their house churches (such as Yuan Xiangzheng (Allen Yuan) and Samuel Lamb).  Still, there were others who roamed everywhere to build and teach churches in different places (such as Li Musheng).  Yet, God gave Wu Weizun a special mission.

 

In 1926, when Wu Weizun was born, his mother gave him the name of a Biblical figure: Epaphras.  If one examines the Bible, there are three places that contain records related to Epaphras. 

 

“You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.” (Colossians 1:7-8)

 

“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.” (Colossians 4:12-13)

 

“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings.” (Philemon 1:23)

 

As we have seen, the Epaphras of the Bible was (1) a loyal minister of Christ; (2) he often prayed for the churches, with great efforts; and (3) he was imprisoned along with Paul.

 

In the summer of 1949, when the head of the Chinese Theological Seminary Bi Lude [sic] (an American) left Shanghai for the United States, Wu Weizun wrote a card in English to bid farewell: “Dear Mother, please don’t worry.  I will always follow my Lord.”  The note was signed “Epaphras.”  In 1964, after he entered prison, he loved to use the name “Epaphras” even more because it reflected his status as a prisoner.  He hoped that he would be a good “Chinese Epaphras.”

 

In 1955, after writing that famous combative essay “We are for Our Faith,” Wang Mingdao was arrested on August 10.  As a consequence, the Spiritual Food Quarterly that he founded, which contained essays he personally wrote, was closed.  In 1927, the first issue of the Spiritual Food Quarterly was officially published.  For 28 years, it bore the responsibility of building up believers through the Biblical truths and teaching the Chinese churches through the Biblical truths.  Until 1955, after the Spiritual Food Quarterly was closed, and the voice of the truth disappeared, the Chinese church entered the dark ages.

 

Yet, in the latter half of the 1950s, after the Spiritual Food Quarterly ceased circulation, Wu Weizun began to write the letters and short essays in his “Correspondence in the Body of Christ.”  He sent the publication to the members of the body throughout the country and encourage the brothers and sisters who were disbursed everywhere to uphold their faith.  In the beginning, he handwrote the letters and the essays.  Later, through the suggestion of the wife of his third oldest brother, he would use carbon papers to reproduce multiple copies.  One of the charges against him that led to his arrest was his letter to a young man who was reborn, encouraging him to withdraw from the Communist Youth League.

 

After he entered prison in 1964, he began the battle to “defend the field of lentils.”  He continued this task until spring 1980, when his third oldest brother and his wife (who were not only his blood relations, but also his brother and sister in Christ) were able to find his address and began to communicate with him.  In addition, they traveled thousands of miles to visit him.  Thereafter, he gradually obtained contact with many members of the body of Christ. 

 

In the early 1980s, as a result of the major situational changes that were taking place throughout the country, the situation in the prison was also correspondingly more relaxed.  When Weizun sent letters, the prison authorities did not inspect his mail as stringently as before.  Therefore, beginning in 1982, Weizun sent out letter after letter of prison briefs, which were written in the name of “Epaphras.”  The title of all the prison briefs was “Correspondence in the Body of Christ.”  From 1982 to 1987, because he was in prison, he could only hand copy the essays in the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” for distribution or use carbon papers to reproduce the writings.  After he left the prison in 1987, the copies of the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” were mailed after they were copied in the copy stores.

 

When a kernel of wheat fell to the earth, it will produce many other seeds when it dies.  In the early 1980s, after experiencing years of great persecution, numerous Chinese house churches appeared like bamboos after the spring rain.  The brothers and the sisters thirst for God’s words and the house churches needed spiritual guidance.  Just around this time, Epaphras sent out the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” that was written in beautiful characters from the prison, and the writings immediately circulated among the brothers and the sisters.  The essays in the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ,” one after the other and through repeated copying, were re-transmitted countless times throughout the country, from the prison in the northwestern plateau to the great prairie in the middle of the country and then to the scenic southeastern villages.  They were circulated to the house churches throughout the country and were even sent abroad.

 

After the Spiritual Food Quarterly, God prepared the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” to serve the brothers and sisters in the Chinese house churches.  He prepared China’s Epaphras to write the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” in this special environment.  When he was in his mother’s womb, Wu Weizun was already chosen by God to be China’s Epaphras.  After he was called by God, he studied theology but did not become a preacher.  God had even higher purposes for him.  He began a unique writing ministry.  This ministry led him to prison.  Yet, he was able to return to that ministry while in prison.  God used these words to encourage many contemporary believers.  God’s deeds are great and wonderful!

 

The number of pages in the different editions of the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” varied.  Each time, Epaphras the author wrote as the Holy Spirit led him.  The contents of the correspondence were the dilemmas faced by the contemporary house churches.  Many were questions raised by the brothers and sisters in the house churches and his replies to them.  These questions included: “What happens if everyone is weak and cool?”  “Why hasn’t God hear our prayers?”  “What happens if the church faces persecution?”  “Can Christians become members of the Communist Party?”  “Where did the faults of the Three-Self lie?”  Faced with these sharp questions, Epaphras never compromised in his replies.  He always clearly wrote replies that were based on the biblical truths.  He encouraged those weak and cool members of the body and pointed out the way for them: “Confess and repent before God.  Always be alert, prayerful, and seek His will.”  He rebuked the “false masters” and admonished the church to “avoid fermentation” [bi xiao].  He pointed out the best and the only road for those brothers and sisters facing persecution: Walk the way of the cross; only the cross!  He himself carried the cross and relied on the power of the cross to gain victory in the battle to “defend the field of the lentils.”  He relied on the power of the cross to gain victory over the long years of persecution and suffering.  He also encouraged the brothers and the sisters to carry the cross and walk the way of the cross.  He cited Matthew 5:10-11 to encourage the brothers and sisters to be “joyful” when persecuted because that is the Lord’s teaching.

 

Epaphras’ half century of spiritual experiences, his solid theological foundation – especially important were his life experiences in which God placed him in the pit of fire to be molded, and the sharp spiritual vision that was the result of this abundant life allowed him to be like Wang Mingdao – to have the ability to respond to the questions in the Chinese house churches.

 

The Glorious Return of the Lord’s Servant

 

On December 12, 1999, after he served in the unique writing ministry for 17 years, he recorded his testimony, which was entitled: “Epaphras – an Ordinary Christian on Mainland China – Wu Weizun’s Testimony of a Life Filled with the Lord’s Grace in His Own Words.”  At the end of the testimony, he wrote:

 

Now, although I am old, I have still not reached the signpost.  I have yet to complete walking the road and the witness is still not completed.  The battle has yet to achieve the ultimate victory.  It is still not the time for me to sing the hymn of victory.  The possibility for me to backslide again, to depart from the Lord’s path, to be deceived, to quit, to fall short of the goal because of laziness, and to abandon all previous efforts, all continue to exist.  There is absolutely no justification for me to relax my alertness, and rest in the Lord’s grace.  I have seen many tragic prohibitions and painful lessons.  May the Lord have mercy and protect me, save me until the very end, so that I can wait in alertness and walk every step that has not yet been completed, and so that the tremendous grace that the Lord has shown me by shedding his blood will not be in vain.  Ultimately, I hope to finally see the Lord’s glory without shame.

 

In February 2002, he wrote the last “Correspondence in the Body of Christ.”  The title was: “The poisonous sore in the Chinese church is festering and becoming larger!”  In his writings, he rebuked the so-called “theological thought construction movement,” which was represented by the Writings of Ding Guangxun, as essentially the “movement to change and re-create the faith (biblical truths and God’s words).”  Afterwards, he became silent.  He said to the brothers: “Recently, the Lord has not moved me to write anything.  Without the Lord’s inspiration, I cannot write anything.  The Lord moved me to compile all the correspondence essays that I wrote in the past for systematic copying.”

 

In August 2002, he compiled 166 pieces of the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” that he had written over the last 20 years.  The total number of characters was over one million.  He classified them and provided the serial numbers and placed them in five large mailbags.  He made a special request with a brother to transmit an entire volume to the U.S.-based Christian Life Quarterly

 

Between November 27 and November 30 of 2002, he wrote the last letter to his relatives.  In his letter, he clearly expressed the affairs after his return to his home in Heaven:

 

Since the last six years of imprisonment (the life sentence was reduced to six years), I have become increasingly clear about the last, incomplete stage of the testimonial assignment that God the Father and the Lord Jesus had given me.  This was the two limitations to which I must adhere from the day I left the prison in 1987 until the day when I depart from this world or the day when the Lord Jesus gloriously descend to earth – when all of us believers would be resurrected to see the Lord and wear the spiritual bodies that are like the Lord, which will never rot, and entered his glorious realm.  (1) Execute the regular fasting that permits meals only on Mondays and Thursdays.  This action is a free protest based on my rights as a citizen that is targeted against the Ningxia Court, which created lies and said that I had indeed repented, thereby reducing my sentence and releasing me.  It demonstrates that since I entered prison in Tianjin in July 1964, I have remained unrepentant and I am therefore unqualified to accept a legal reduction of sentence and release.  I should have remained a prisoner for life until the end.  (2) Execute the principle of not leaving the city of Yinchuan and the prison, and continue to be a good “prisoner for life outside the great wall.”  In essence, I am to be, in the government’s parlance, “someone who is being kept alive.”  The purpose of and the meaning behind God’s giving of these two limitations are, on the one hand, that I should comply with and accept the power of the prison (the government organ) to enforce the law (which has nothing to do with whether I’ve repented); on the other hand, once I arrive at the other side of the wall, He wanted me to firmly refuse and resist the court’s falsehood and pretentiousness (which refers to its insistence that I had “indeed repented”).  I have never forgotten or ignored in the slightest degree these two limitations, or testimonial assignments, that were given to me by God in the 15 to 16 years after I left the prison.  Therefore, I had no choice but to heartlessly refused the love and care of the third older brother and his wife as well as those of Zaimian and Wang Zhen.  For this precise reason, regardless of how old and decrepit I become, I ask you to please not come to visit me in Yinchuan (even if it was convenient and possible for you to come, don’t; I thank you, but by all means do not come).  I will remain a part of the prison (or the generator factory).  It is a normal thing if I die, and my body’s cremated and interred and buried in the South Pit.  There is nothing that I can obstruct me from resurrecting with all the believers at the end of the days.  The prison is merely a home in which I have dwelled for a long time, but only temporarily, while in this world, until that day when I’m resurrected and wear the same undefiled spiritual body as the Lord, and enter the eternal home with the Lord.  The reason is that the physical body that will surely be worn away will ultimately return to the dirt, but only the undefiled spiritual body can enter, along with the Lord, the eternal kingdom of the God that will never be worn away.  In past dozen years, the prison has treated me well and has taken care of me.  On this point, I have always been grateful to the government before God, with special thanks to the prison.

 

I will stop for now.  If the Lord permits, I will write a short letter to you each year.  When I die, I have asked Brother Liu Fangxing, who I have known for many years, to phone the third older brother and ask him to tell all of you.

 

May the grace of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.

 

Epaphras

 

November 27 – 30, 2002

 

Twenty days later, in the morning of December 21, 2002, a young couple went to Wu Weizun’s residence within the vicinity of the Yinchuan prison to visit Jesus Christ’s faithful witness Epaphras.  When they knocked on the door, no one responded.  They felt that something was wrong so they jumped over the low wall to enter the residence.  They saw Epaphras on the ground neatly groomed with his glasses.  His countenance was peaceful.  He has already been taken away by the Lord who loved him.

 

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. (1 Corinthians 4:9) 

 

On the great stage of the 20th century Chinese church, many believers performed the drama with their blood and lives for men and angels to see.  The life and witness of Epaphras undoubtedly can be called a wondrous scene on this stage.

 

Since he was called by God, he upheld the resolve to carry the cross for the rest of his life.  He was tested and thrown into the pit of fire like Daniel’s three friends.  Though he was molded he did not have the bitter taste of burns.  His thin and kind face was always filled with a joyful smile.  The brothers and sisters who visited him could hardly believe that the humble and easy-going old man who stood before them was the brave man who used a sharp pen to angrily rebuke the false master, the warrior who battled for the Lord and defended the field of lentils.

 

There were also weak moments in his life and he also had a history that aroused controversies.  Many people do not understand why he would strangely “fast”?  Why did he insist on becoming the life prisoner outside the great walls?

 

Yet, the Lord knew.  He had kept the things that he had received from the Lord, and kept them until the end.  Now, the Lord who loves him has taken him away and allowed him to rest from the earthly labors and sufferings.  He can speak without shame like Paul:

 

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (II Timothy 4:7-8)

 

In the 20th century, God had given us “China’s Daniel” (Wang Mingdao) and “China’s Epaphras” (Wu Weizun).  God’s deeds are indeed great and wondrous!

 

Let us pray and let us wait to see God’s wondrous deeds….

 

References for this essay:

 

1. “Epaphras – An Ordinary Christian on Mainland China”, Wu Weizun’s narration of his life witnessing by the Lord’s grace.  Two volumes, copies, unpublished manuscripts.

 

2. “Epaphras’ 166 Correspondences in the Body of the Lord” [Yibafo Zhunei Jiaotong 166 Pian], copies, unpublished manuscripts.

 

3. Wu Weizun’s letters to his brother Wu Weikan and other family members, November 27 – 30, 2002.

 

4. Website of Tonglu, Zhejiang province, “Tonglu Personalities” column.

 

 

 

This is a True Israelite

 

Pan Yiyuan

 

In the morning of December 21, 2002, Jesus Christ’s faithful witness Epaphras (this is the faith name that Wu Weizun’s mother gave him) has already been taken away by the Lord who loves him.

 

Approximately one week before the spring festival in 1994, I was arrested by the Zhangzhou City Public Security Bureau with the charge of “engaging in underground church activities” (the official term of arrest was detained for investigation [shourong shengcha]).  After Epaphras heard about the situation, he immediately asked someone to deliver a note to my elderly mother and told her: This is a suffering that is permitted by God, which is also a grace and blessing granted by Him.  Not only must we not escape it, we should also not refuse it and not complain about it.  In addition, we must not frantically seek liberation.  Even more so, we cannot seek the backdoor to find connections.  Instead, we should give thanks and give praise and wait for the Lord’s mercy.  There were many Christians who, in order to reduce the unavoidable pain and torture, fell into someone else’s trap and become others’ prisoners, and performed deeds that offended God, hurt people, and humiliated themselves.

 

At the time when I went to prison, my elderly mother had already contacted a group of brothers and sisters who loved the Lord to form a prayer network that would pray days and nights for my release.  After she received Epaphras’ letter, she immediately changed the prayer focus on asking the Lord to give me strength and to stand firm as a Christian, and to not do anything that would harm brothers and sisters and cause the Lord to grieve.

 

Although my mother did not know much about Epaphras’ experiences, she knew from my lips that Epaphras was an obedient, absolute, and simple man who feared God and was absolutely faithful to Him.  He listened completely to anything that the Lord has said and carried them out completely.

 

On December 21, 1994, I was released on bail.  After I left prison, I immediately sent a note to Epaphras about the joyful event.  Yet, Epaphras’ reply was extremely harsh: Brother Pan, for many years, people who were arrested for the name of the Lord have been imprisoned for many years and endured all kinds of humiliation before they were released.  Yet, you left prison after a brief 10 and half months in jail.  Did you make any compromises that damaged the Lord’s name while in prison?  Or did you agree to some conditions set by the public security organs?  Or did you subtly admit your so-called “crimes”?  Or did you change your position and became “Judah”?  Please tell me the truth.  These words, while tender, did not leave me any face.  Put plainly, the question was: “If you have committed any sins, tell them truthfully.”

 

Epaphras’ letter caused me to think of the Lord’s assessment of Nathanael: “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” (John 1:47)  At that time, the Lord not only did not become angry with the rude Nathanael, He actually praised him because “there is nothing false” in him.

 

What else could I say when confronted with Epaphras’ honest, upright, good, and direct questions?  I said to him directly: Lord Jesus’ praise for Nathanael was His praise for you.  The church lacks someone like you.  If there were more people like you, many hidden things in the church would be difficult to conceal.

 

Therefore, I reported to him without reservation the general process during the time between my imprisonment and release.  I began with the account of how my elderly great uncle was agitated about my imprisonment.  One of his former students, Mr. Li Shangda who is now a billionaire in Indonesia, had visited him and saw his sad countenance.  Mr. Li asked my great uncle why he was so grieved?  The great uncle told him about the imprisonment of his great nephew (which was me).  After Mr. Li Shangda heard the story, he volunteered to write Mr. Jia Qingling, who was then the provincial party secretary of Fujian.  (After the 16th Party Congress, Mr. Jia was elevated to the position of membership in the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee Politburo Standing Committee.)  Mr. Li asked Mr. Jia to refrain from conducting the willful arrests of Christians during the era of reform and opening, so as to avoid frustrating the great hope that the overseas Chinese have for the construction of the motherland….

 

After this letter was sent, it appeared to have been lost in the sea of documents.  Jia Qingling did not respond and the public security bureau did not release me.  Mr. Li Shangda, as a leader of the overseas Chinese in Indonesia, then invited Mr. Jia Qingling to visit Indonesia.  He even spoke at the welcoming dinner in Jakarta that featured dozens of overseas Chinese leaders.  In front of numerous people, Mr. Li once again appealed to Jia Qingling that the government’s willful arrest of Christians could create negative impact among the overseas Chinese.  During the dinner, one self-proclaimed “Christian,” in order to seek Mr. Jia Qingling’s favor, spoke: “The Communist Party would never randomly arrest Christians.  There must be other reasons that accounted for the imprisonment of Pan Yiyuan.”  Mr. Li immediately produced a photocopy of the “detention certificate” of the Zhangzhou city public security bureau for all to see.  He subsequently scolded the “Christian”: The Communist Party said that Pan Yiyuan “engaged in underground church activities,” and yet you said no.  Are you even more leftist than the Communist Party or have even more knowledge about the inside story?  Then I would ask you to “reveal” the other factors behind the Pan Yiyuan case!”

 

Mr. Jia Qingling saw that the atmosphere had changed and said: “You do not need to argument among yourselves.  I will take care of this case as soon as I return to China.”

 

After I was released, I saw the letter that Mr. Li Shangda wrote to the great uncle.  The letter said: “Jia Qingling carried out his promise.  On the 19th (meaning the 19th of December in 1994), he returned to Fuzhou and the release was made on the 20th (the precise date was the 21st).”  Mr. Li also said, he had already notified his daughter to wire 2,000 renminbi to help in my recovery.

 

Mr. Li Shangda was not a Christian and had never met me.  Yet God wondrously used him to accomplish His will during my suffering.

 

I also honestly confessed times when I did not act at all like a Christian while in prison, which occurred on three occasions.

 

During the first occasion, the public security officials fabricated a story that had no basis in order to support their explanation that there was “evidence” for my crime.  They intended to force me to confess.  I then followed their logic and fabricated an even more ridiculous story.  As the fabricated story involved a brother who had went to the United States, the public security officials used the occasion that the brother went to visit family to try to create divisions between us.  This good brother who had spent 15 years in prison for the Lord right away saw through their scheme.  Not only did he not fall into their trap, he even disclosed their lies. 

 

During the second occasion, they obtained my diary when they raided my home.  They demanded to know what the Arabic numerals in the diary meant.  I honestly told them.  The officer who recorded the statements cried: “lies.”  When he saw his attitude, I smiled and changed my statements: “Oh, those are the secret codes of communication between me and Taiwan’s Jiang Jingguo.”  The section chief named Lu who interrogated me knew that I was merely making fun of that stupid colleague who only knew how scare the common civilians.  He angrily said: “Don’t say anymore, don’t say anymore.”

 

During the third occasion, which was also the last interrogation, the section chief named Lu said to me: “Pan Yiyuan, we treat you well and yet you think we’re easily abused.  You refused to tell us anything.  In reality, all I have to do is to deprive you of sleep for three days and three nights, and then you will tell me everything.”  (He referred to the torture method known as “fatigue bombardment.”)

 

I said: “This is a great method.  After this method, there would be no one who could withstand the pressure.  Every political movement has used this good method, forcing the prisoner to say whatever you want him to say.  I don’t need three days and three nights.  One day and one night will be sufficient.  However, what I say will not be up to you.”

 

Section Chief Lu’s face didn’t look too well.  There were even sounds that resemble the grinding of teeth.  After a long while, he suddenly said: Call your family tomorrow to take you home.  One of his entourage (probably a driver) said with a smiling face: “You’re going to be allowed to go home for Christmas.”  I replied: “I don’t have the habit of celebrating Christmas, but it will do.”

 

That day was the 20th of December, 1994, during the afternoon of the day prior to my release.

 

After I had sent the letter with the above contents to Epaphras, I waited daily for his lecturing.  However, he did not lecture, nor did he criticize.  He only provided the love and comfort that were in Christ. 

 

When I entered the prison, I was resolved to be like Epaphras: no response, no reply, and no defense.  In actuality, I only upheld the principle for three months, and then I changed.  The reason is that I had learned his appearance but I did not learn his obedience and faithfulness to the Lord as well as his kindness.  The result was that I did not even truly learned his outward appearance. 

 

In order to further my education (?), the public security organ continuously withheld my retirement pension for two years and one month.  The withholding continued until my unit’s leader intervened on my behalf.  However, the pension that had been withheld was never compensated.  The “bail period” also continued for many years.  Chinese law clearly stipulated that if there was no indictment, there could be no withholding of income.  In addition, the “bail period” could not exceed a period of one year.  This is what the Chinese often say: “If I say it’s all right, even if it’s not all right, it will still be all right; however, if I say it’s not all right, even if it’s all right, it will still not be all right.”

 

In September 2001, I finally, for the first time and also for the last time, met Epaphras, whom I have thought about for a long time.  Epaphras was not articulate.  He stuttered when spoke.  He was even less articulate than me, who had experienced stroke on four occasions.  However, he unhesitatingly and bravely moved forward for the glory of the Lord.  “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

 

Today, Epaphras is now in the Lord’s embrace.  The Lord has wiped away all of his tears.  I am also raising my head to watch my Lord, that on the day that will not be long in coming, he will receive me to his side and wipe away all of my tears.

 

February 2, 2003

 

Pan Yiyuan     Mainland Chinese Christian

 

 

The Days Spent with the Elderly Brother Wu Weizun

 

Liu Wanxing

 

I lived very close to the Elderly Brother Wu Weizun.  The distance between our residences could be covered in 10 minutes on a bicycle.  Although I had helped him with some things, because he left us suddenly, what remain in my heart are losses and guilt.  I regret that there were too many things that I should have done for him but have in fact done too little.  If he was resurrected and lived in the same place, I would go see him once each day to chat with him so as to alleviate his loneliness.  It would have been just as well if I just went to help him prepare some coal and repair his bicycle.

 

Most of what I have said to the brothers and sisters who live far away were things that I have seen with my own eyes and what I have heard from him.  I will not speak on things that he had already written in his autobiography.  I maintain the attitude of one who is counting the treasures in his home, not wanting to miss one item.  I am willing to present all of these things before the entire body of Christ.

 

Before 1987 the brothers and sisters in China’s Yinchuan City did not even know that there was a warrior who had been fighting for the Lord in our midst.  How did we come to know him?  It was because the prison cadre (Yinchu Prison was also called the Wind Generator Factory because it produced electrical generators) who was in charge of Brother Wu Weizun (hereby referred to as Brother Wu) came to our church (the present-day Yinchuan TSPM Church) to introduce him.  “Our factory has recently released a prisoner who has completed his sentence.  He is also advanced in age.  He does not want to return to his former home.  He also shares your faith.  You should go try to convince him to return to his home.”  This was how we came to know Brother Wu.

 

Through the communication within the body and the essays that Brother Wu had written in the Correspondence in the Body of Christ, he became known by more and more members of the body.  There is a faithful servant of the Lord in China’s Yinchuan city.  His experience on the path to the cross was extraordinary.

 

Brother Wu did not write again for a long time after he completed his last essay for the Correspondence in the Body of Christ.  After he wrote his last letter home on November 30, 2002 (he gave a copy and a copy to my oldest son, who had often visited his Uncle Wu during this past year), in a brief 20 days, the Lord took him home.  During the time that he stopped writing the essays, he said to me on numerous occasions: “The Lord has not moved me to write anything in recent days.  Without his inspiration, I can write nothing.  The Lord has moved me to find all the essays I wrote in the past and arrange them in preparation for systematic copying.”

 

This “systematic and complete” copying effort, which is also the last copying work, gave him tremendous pressure.  He divided the 166 essays into three categories: (A) before and after his prison release; (B) Biblical truths (two volumes); and (C) the church and the political authority (two volumes), and made five founded books.  No more than 20 copies were made at any time (each copy weighed 2.4 kilogram).  His house did not have enough space for more copies.  He said: “The house is filled with them.  May the Lord ensure that the public security officials would not come.  If they did, the loss will be great.  Each set of 20 copies values at 7,000 RMB.” 

 

During the time that he was engaged in the work, one evening after rainfall, when there was no pedestrian on the road, he used his bicycle to carry the copied essays home.  When he was not too far from home, his two legs slid into the mud in the ditch on the side of the road and he became stuck.  With no assistance, he would have to wait until the next morning.  The Lord sent his neighbors to pull him out.  Fortunately the bicycle did not slide into the ditch.  Brother Wu had planned to leave the house early to make copies so that he could return home early.  However, because the road was difficult to traverse after the rain and because the printing press had made some errors, he was delayed in his return home.  However, protection came with danger.

 

The envelopes that Brother Wu used were all self-made.  His envelopes were truly centered.  Even the corners were symmetrical.  I told him not to waste his time on this work.  One could still send letters in slightly off-centered envelopes.  He said: “Indeed, I do things slowly.”  I work fast, but without the centeredness that Brother Wu has demonstrated.  Brother Wu was just this type of person.  Whether as a person or as a worker, everything for him had to be done correctly and neatly.  He would never take anything lightly.  He always tried to be thrifty.  I now remember that when I first knew him, he would sharpen his already worn pencil head over and over again to write the essays.  Later, he became increasingly occupied with replying to others’ correspondence to him, which took a lot of time.  However, the provisions made by the body also became increasingly abundant, so that he ceased producing his own envelopes.

 

Brother Wu was as innocent and honest as a child – there was no deception in him.  After his correspondence list was first taken by those people, he could not continue the correspondence, so he just started to accumulate the list again.  Someone told him to put such a piece of page in a place that other people would not be willing to examine.  He responded by placing it in a stack of old newspapers, which was truly secure.  There was one time when he was writing letters.  The correspondence list was on the table.  Someone yelled outside the door.  Unfortunately, the persons who walked in were not fellow Christians but those people (editor’s note: public security officials).  They forced their way into the house and once again took away the correspondence list.  Some people later told him that when encountering similar incidents in the future, you ought to secure the correspondence list and the letters before opening the door.  On another day, those people came again.  They placed the confiscated books on Brother Wu’s desk.  Suddenly, those people went into the courtyard.  Taking advantage of this opportunity, Brother Wu placed a Bible he was reading in the drawer.  This time, it worked.  He was able to use craftiness to keep a Bible.  Later, Brother Wu was able to learn some skills from his losses, including hiding those easily confiscated materials behind the stacks of disorganized heaps.  It turns out that prior to these incidents Brother Wu never hid anything, and those people understood his ways.

 

If you have read his essays in the “Correspondence in the Body of the Lord,” particularly those criticisms of the false prophets, you will notice the sharpness of his pen and the comprehensiveness of his critique, such that there was no place for the false prophet to hide.  Yet, if you then go visit the author of those essays, you would not believe that these harsh essays were written by this person, who carried a thin and sallow countenance, wore a pair of glasses and a set of clothing that was not properly fitted.  The clothing even had patches.  No one would believe that these essays came from his pens.

 

There is a phenomenon that we observed in the printed versions of Brother Wu’s essays, which was that his essays were always written on one full page.  Why the coincidence?  This was not a coincidence; rather, it was the result of his careful effort to reduce expenditures.  After he completed the articles, he would count the number of words, then calculate the number of lines needed, how many words were on each line, and how large should the font for each word be.  Then he would place these articles onto the pages.  He shared with me one coincidence.  One time, as he was about to copy his completed essays using the Fangsongti font (Note: A Chinese print font), he felt that there was one paragraph that was unsatisfactory and decided to rewrite the section.  After he completed the rewrite, he counted the number of words.  What a coincidence!  The number of words after the rewrite was the same as the previous count.  There was no need to make the calculations about the number of lines and the number of pages.  He could immediately begin the print work.  Why did Brother Wu want to count?  The reason is that the unit of calculation in the printing industry is the surface of the page.  Regardless of the number of lines or the number of words, even if the page contains only one-half line of words, the cost will still be calculated by page.  Brother Wu’s effort was intended to reduce expenditures.

 

Brother Wu was very afraid of the cold.  During the autumn days, when other Christians visited him, they would see that he had already put on the cotton hat and that the ear coverings attached to the hat would also have been pulled down.  His face was also wrapped up by the hat.  He looked like someone who had just returned from the snowy mountains.  However, his stove for keeping warm was always turned over seven to eight days after others have already turned on theirs.  This was another one of his acts of thriftiness.  I believe that the reasons that Brother Wu was so fearful of the cold were his fasting and the fact that he had caught cold while in prison (in Tianjin). 

 

We saw that the single bed used by Brother Wu was very narrow.  When a person sleeps on it, he could not turn around.  If he tried, he would have fallen onto the floor.  Brother Wu said: “This was the size that I had especially requested.  When I sleep, my body and my head do not turn.  This ability was trained during the time that I was in prison.”  When a number people are on top of a pit, it would be impossible for anyone to turn or move.  You have to remain stationary like a puppet.

 

Brother Wu’s perspective on home security was the antithesis of the perspective held by mankind.  No one has seen locks on his doors.  When he was inside the house, he would lock the doors from the inside.  When he left the house on errands, he would never lock the door to the yard.  He only closed the door to the house.  A door hangar would be on the bedroom door with the note “please leave a message.”  Visitors could also wait for him in the house.  Brother Wu adopted his habit out of fear that brothers and sisters who were visiting from afar would not be able to rest in the house if they saw the locked door.  He did this out of consideration for the brothers and sisters.  He never lost anything.  At times, when a neighborhood child saw visitors to his house, the child would enter the house and tell the guests: “Grandpa Wu went out.”  He would leave after giving the explanation.

 

Brother Wu often said: “The work that the Lord gave me was to witness like an ordinary Christian.”  It seemed simple and ordinary when first hearing these words.  However, at that time, his work actually led him to prison and was tortured, nearly to the point of death.  The Brother’s courage to insist on his refusal to worship the idol (the statue of Mao) has resulted in him suffering unknown number of acts of torture.  In order to uphold the testimony of saying grace before meals, we can hardly know how many times Brother Wu had to endure the lack of meals.  In addition to denying him food, the prison authorities even forced him to conduct the same amount of labor as the other prisoners, such that the combination of hunger and fatigue had led him to fall into comas.  At times, they would refuse to give him food so that he was on the edge of starving to death (human beings can die at any time if denied food and drinks for seven days).  They then force fed him, leading him to vomit after the forced feeding.  The prison police then ordered Brother Wu to eat the things he had vomited, and he complied.  Brother Wu was this kind of person.  In order to obey the Lord’s commands, he was unafraid of paying any price.  He would not concede the slightest to sin.

 

Once, I asked Brother Wu: “What was the one torture you were least willing to face before you were imprisoned?”  He said: “I least wanted to face hunger.  Yet, the result was just that.  After I was imprisoned, they used hunger to torture my will and tried to cause me to surrender.”  I remember Brother Wu had told me that for three years he had used substandard melons and vegetables instead of regular food to satisfy his hunger.  He used his own rice and flour to exchange for coarse foods so that he could get more foods so as to allow his stomach to get a sense of fullness.  He was a guy who could eat a lot.  He was also not finicky (he didn’t care too much for the taste, as long as the food filled him).  The food that he ate after he was released remained food that ordinary people could not take in.  He would cook the cereal, vegetable, eggs, and meat separately.  Then he would mix them together in a large basin.  After the food cooled, he would divide them into portions.  Each portion would be consumed at each meal.  Since he fasted on a regular basis, it was not appropriate for him to be too full.  Therefore, he would stop eating after his stomach had a sense of fullness.  When he wanted to eat again, he would then eat another portion.  He took his food by days and not by meals.  He would stop eating and drinking after 24 hours.  He never ate hot food.  Even during winter he ate cold food.  This habit was also developed during his time in prison.

 

Brother Wu had told us about the story of the large tiger and the small tiger.  An experienced public security cadre once said to this uncompromising man: “You are indeed like a newly-born calf that is not afraid of the tiger.  Do you know how many pastors and preachers had surrendered during my watch?  Why don’t you think about it.”  (The public security cadre meant that he had means to make people fall on their knees.)  Brother Wu said: “After that public security cadre finished his words, God told me the story of the large tiger and the small tiger.”  God said: “I am the large tiger and the regime is the small tiger.  When the requirements of the small tiger do not disobey the large tiger, you can comply with both the large tiger and the small tiger.  When the small tiger’s requirements contradict the requirements of the large tiger, you must adhere to the large tiger and not the small tiger.”  The Bible was said that it is right to obey God and not man.  Throughout the Chinese and non-Chinese histories, on the many occasions when Christians were persecuted, shed blood, and sacrificed their lives, the events were exactly caused by the Christians’ decision to obey God and not man.

 

In his dealings with the brothers and the sisters, Brother Wu had also erected great standards of right and wrong.  He did not always get along with people.  He had heard that a certain “sister” had become a member of the Eastern Lightening.  He immediately looked for that “sister” to inquire about the rumor.  That “sister” lied that others had falsely accused her.  Brother Wu believed her.  Later, that woman who had joined the Eastern Lightening got another sister to fall into the trap of the Eastern Lightening.  The other sister suffered as a result.  Fortunately, she escaped.  This sister told Brother Wu the truths.  The woman who joined the Eastern Lightening took the initiative to visit Brother Wu.  However, when Brother Wu saw her, he said: “Go.  From now on, I will no longer receive you.”  There was another Brother Pan from the south.  He was entrusted by the Lord to print Bibles during the Cultural Revolution.  He was someone who had already given little thought to life and death (during the Cultural Revolution, death was certain for anyone who was caught printing the Bible).  Although he had never met Brother Wu, they were brothers in Christ who were kindred spirits.  The day that Brother Pan was imprisoned finally came.  His stay in prison was a few days shy of a year.  Brother Wu heard that Brother Pan was released after only a year of imprisonment.  He thought something was fishy, so he directly wrote to Brother Pan: “Why is it that your time in prison was so short?  Did you cooperate with the authorities?”  Because of Brother Wu’s frankness and lack of pretentiousness, Brother Pan knew that he was a good brother.

 

Brother Wu’s replies to correspondences from other brothers and sisters were a great deal of work.  Many brothers and sisters from afar wanted to correspond with him and they could only use letters to do so.  No matter how busy he was, as long as brothers and sisters visited him, he would immediately set aside the tasks in his hands, tell you to sit on his bed, move a square stool to sit opposite you, and quietly listened to you speak.  He would never disrupt someone else’s talks.  After the other person had finished what they wanted to say, then he would say what he should say, so that the others might derive some benefits from the exchanges.  On separate occasions, there were times when guests invited Brother Wu to pray for them.  You can tell that Brother Wu was not an eloquent man.  He was not particularly sharp.  He was unable to speak his words without pauses.  Once you read his essays, then listen to his prayers, you may be mistaken that they were not from the same Brother Wu.  After the guests departed, and he would see them out, smiled and waved at them.  He didn’t immediately turn around to shut the door.  He would return to the door only after the guests had gone a distance from his home.  The brothers and the sisters were his guests.  There were times when one set of guests had yet to leave that another set of guests arrived.

 

During the 15 years between his release from prison and the day he was raised to Heaven, Brother Wu only rode two bicycles.  The first one was a large model 28 bicycle.  When I first met him, he was riding this old bike.  He rode it until the bike could no longer be repaired.  Then he sold it to the man who was collecting junks.  Brother Wu looked at his broken bike and said to me: “Ah, it has accompanied me for many years.  I will miss it.  We’ve developed feelings for each other.”  I replied: “I also have this strange feeling.”  The second bicycle he rode was a fake Everlasting brand model 26 bicycle.  Since he did not ride it for very long, the metallic parts were all rusted.  When he was taken to Heaven, his bicycle remained in the customary place, as if it was still waiting for its master to ride it to the post office for mail deliveries, to the printing plant, to the train station, to the bank, and to the generator plant, or the homes of brothers and sisters.  Ah!  This will no longer be.  “Bike, your master was too busy.  He had no time to wash your body.  Therefore, you are filled with mud and your appearance has completely changed.  You had accompanied your master to crash into the electrical wire poles on the side of the street during the nights.  You were also crashed by other bikes, with you falling along with your master.  Your master’s leg was bruised and his fingers also bled.  Although the situation was so serious, you would never have seen your master becoming angry with the other party.  The God of your master protected him; He also protected you.”

 

As I think back, during the last year, Brother Wu was truly unlike his old self.  When he rode the bicycle, he would uncontrollably lean to the car path.  During the last phase of his life, the speed with which he rode the bike also decreased.  Three years ago, he rode even faster than I did.

 

By God’s grace, Brother Wu’s important belongings were recovered although they were lost on two occasions.  He had a strange habit.  He loved to wrap his household registration booklet, identification certificate, food rationing coupons, and various documents and coupons in one package.  He would carry the package wherever he went.  I said to him: “It’s probably not necessary to carry these things around all the time.”  He said: “You can never be sure when they may become useful.”  He never changed this habit.  In fact, it is precisely because the household registration booklet was in his package that those who found the package were able to return it to him.  The first time he lost the package was when he went out to purchase a smoking pipe.  He left the package at the door to the shop.  Since his package did not have an attractive appearance, it did not raise many people’s eyebrows.  In fact, some people might have mistaken the package to be something left by the beggars.  For this reason, after a day and a night, no one picked it up.  The next day, a female laborer who was cleaning the streets were prepared to dump this package into the trash can along with the other pieces of trash.  However, she felt its weightiness on her hands.  When she opened the package, she discovered documentations such as the household registration booklet.  Therefore, she found him through the household registration booklet.  When he lost these documentations and coupons, he was very anxious, so he prayed to the Lord and felt peace in his heart.  Therefore, the female laborer was able to find her on the next day.  The second time he lost the package occurred when he was visiting me.  He had expected to say a few words and leave.  However, it took a little longer time that he had expected.  When he went downstairs, he did not see the package.  This time, the package was not lost; it was stolen.  Christians should not be suspicious of others.  However, based on my calculation, I still went down to the trash station early every morning to check whether the package was there.  I considered the possibility that the thief would throw the package into the trash heap from the top floors down to the bottom floor.  However, nothing was found for three consecutive days.  On the fourth day, I woke up late and the trash had been taken away.  I thought to myself, this is bad.  I became anxious.  Thanks the Lord, He again provided.  The thiefs made up a lie to conceal their action.  They found Brother Wu through the generator plant.  Brother Wu still thanked him by giving them gifts.

 

Before his release from prison, Brother Wu had served as an instructor in the prison school.  Among his belongings that were left behind was a leather-bounded notebook.  When you open it, it contained the rewards that Brother Wu had received.  On the top it was written: Wu Weizun in 1985 was rated a good instructor in the cultural and technological school.  On the bottom of the page was printed the Education Section of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Prison.  The stamp was round.  The prison cadres knew that he was secondary school instructor.  Once, a cadre went to him to ask that he tutor his daughter on third-year high school mathematics and physics because she had failed in her university examination.  Brother Wu expressed hesitancy (because he was busy).  The cadre said: “Elder Wu, I came today to beg you, not to order you.”  When Brother Wu heard that the cadre had come to beg him, he readily agreed.  Brother Wu first reviewed the materials.  Later, he taught her.  The next year, Brother Wu said to me: “That girl is very bright.  She has successfully passed the university examination.”

 

It is impossible, even with thousands of words and expressions, to fully describe any aspect of our reverent Brother Wu’s spiritual life.  We invite the brothers and sisters outside China to read the autobiography of this spiritual giant and the 166 topical essays that he wrote.  Then, we will know a little more about what it means to witness for the Lord, what is spiritual warfare, what is the watcher, what is a good instructor and good friend, what it means to carry the Cross to follow the Lord, what is obedience, what is to love one’s brothers, and what it means to defend the truth.

 

He is a model worthy of our emulation.  He was a warrior in the spiritual war.  He was a good teacher and a fine friend.  He was an alert watcher.  Whenever confusion and traps appeared, he always wrote to sound the bell for alerting the flock of sheep so that they would not enter into confusion.  He even pointed out the keys to mysteries for Taiwan’s Ko Shiyuan and America’s Billy Graham.  Even more importantly, he vehemently hated the false prophets in today’s China because they dare to speak falsely about the biblical truth in order to adapt to the political requirements.  He is a contemporary spiritual giant (I don’t think that we have gone overboard in giving him this title).  The effects of his correspondences may become even more manifested in the future. 

 

Our beloved Brother Wu Weizun has gone to the Lord’s place.  We are not saddened by this fact because we hope that we will be reunited before the Lord.  We respect him and we miss him.

 

Lastly, let us conclude with the two sentences that Brother Wu often said to the brothers and sisters.

 

First sentence: “It is the Lord’s grace that has sustained me.  Only by His grace am I able to witness in the way that He has instructed me.”

 

Second sentence: “Without the Lord’ touch, I can write nothing.”

 

January 2, 2003

 

 

[1] Translator’s note: Soon after its victory over the Nationalist government, the communist regime established “mass organizations” to oversee the activities of the religious communities.  The Protestant mass organization was the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), headed by Wu Yaozong.  The “three self” stands for self supporting, self perpetuating, and self governing.  The unifying theme is that the Church in China should have no political and economic relationships with their counterparts outside China.

CHINA’S EPAPHRAS

Wu Weizun, Servant of the Lord

 

  1. “Zun” was originally the Chinese character for respect with a “man” character as the radical.  The original character is pronounced in the third tone. 

However, because the actual character cannot be displayed on computer, this essay will use the Chinese character for respect in its place.)

 

By Xiao Ruozhi

 

Introduction

 

It was Beijing in 1900.  The Boxer Rebellion had just begun.  The Empress Dowager Cixi,  Prince Duan Zheng, and Zai Yi instigated the Boxers to attack various foreign missions.  They also called the Gansu Governor Dong Fuxiang to assist. Yuan Chang from Tonglu in Zhejiang province appealed on two consecutive occasions.  He strongly advocated against attacks on the foreign missions out of fear that they would provoke retaliation.  At the Imperial Council, Yuan   once again strongly advocated, “Gang power cannot be relied upon; foreign interference cannot be risked.” “Killing foreign envoys will violate public laws.”  He argued that the harm would be irreparable if such actions were taken.

 

He spoke with assurance and fervor; his voice thundering throughout the palace.  Both Minister of War Xu Yongyi and Minister of Punishment Xu Jingcheng supported Yuan’s position.  The Empress Downager was displeased and left the council.  Soon the Allied forces of the eight foreign countries occupied the artillery fortifications at Tianjin and moved toward Beijing.  Yuan and Xu Jingcheng knelt in front of the palace with their appeals, tearfully pleading for the execution of the individuals who caused the conflicts, so as to remedy the situation. Zai Yi was infuriated.  He arrested individuals includingYuan Chang, Xu Jingcheng, and Xu Yongyi.  On the Fourth of July, Yuan Chang and Xu Jingcheng were executed at the gate of the open-air market.

 

The situation developed according to predictions made by Yuan Chang and his allies.  On the 20th of July, the Allied Forces of the eight foreign countries commenced an attack on Beijing.  On the 22nd of July, Cixi and Guangxu, the Manchu Emperor,  left westward for Xian.  In December of that year, the Allied Forces of the eight foreign countries left Beijing and the throne issued an edict ordering the restoration of Yuan Chang to his official position.  In 1909. the first year of the Emperor Xuantong, the throne bestowed upon Yuan Chang the post-mortem honor of the “Lord of Loyalty” and established the “Shrine of the Three Loyalists”on the South Side of Mount  Gusan by West Lake, to pay respect to the martyred Yuan Chang, Xu Jingcheng, and Xu Yongyi.

 

On the 21st of December 2002, over 100 years later, in Ningxia, a saint by the name of  Epaphras left this world in peace in a dilapidated room outside the walls of the Yinchuan Prison.  This Chinese Epaphras was the grandson of the “loyal Yuan Chang” (in the words of Wang Mingdao).

 

 

Grace and Calling

 

After Yuan Chang met his end, his family quickly moved southward from Beijing and settled in Songjiang, which is within Shanghai’s proximity.  At the time, several female American Wesleyan missionaries had already begun to spread the Lord’s gospel in Songjiang by the establishment of a school.  When she was 12 years old, Yuan Chang’s daughter, Yuan Jilan, (1889 – 1967), enrolled in this small girls’ school (the predecessor to the Muwei Girls’ School).  God’s saving grace was thus bestowed upon Yuan Chang’s descendants.

 

According to reports, before his death, Yuan Chang had on several occasions secretly advised foreign residents (primarily missionaries) who lived in Beijing to leave the city, thereby reducing many casualties and losses.  Many missionaries were very grateful to Yuan Chang.  They also knew that Yuan Jilan was Yuan Chang’s daughter.  These missionaries expended considerable energy on the girls of the school.  The missionaries taught them to understand biblical truths, know the true God, and rely on Jesus Christ as the Savior.  They also nurtured them to possess an excellent knowledge and morality base.  In this kind of environment in her teenage years,  Jilan received Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

 

When she was 19 years old, Jilan married into the Wu family in Dongyang, Zhejiang province. She raised six children (aside from three who died as infants).  Jilan gave her youngest son, Wu Weizun, born in April 1926, a biblical name “Epaphras.” 

 

Weizun grew up in a church environment.  It was therefore natural that he understood many biblical truths, was familiar with biblical stories, and was well able to sing many hymns.  When the teachers would ask in class, “Who believes in Jesus?” little Weizun would raise his right hand and say, “I believe in Jesus!”

 

However, he was not reborn as a child.  After entering the fifth grade, little Weizun became rebellious.  He began to doubt God, accumulating several hundred questions in his mind.  At the time of the anti-Japanese war Little Weizun tasted for the first time the sufferings of this world wandering about with his family.  He complained to God, “Why create man?  You created him and allowed him to sin.  Then you punish us.”  Later, his mother purchased the newly published Streams in the Desert for him, letting him read a biblical passage and a chapter each morning.

 

One day in May 1941, the Holy Spirit opened Weizun’s heart through the Streams in the Desert.  He knelt in front of his bed and prayed, “O God, forgive my pride and foolishness; I was wrong.   I will no longer ask several hundred questions; I commit them all into your hands.  It is not that I don’t want to understand, but I want to see what you want me to understand at this time.  May your light shine upon me, one step at a time so that I might understand.  First, I now believe and depend on you.  You will not be wrong.  Your word – the Bible – will not be wrong.  O God, from this day forward, you are my father; I am your child.  I accept Jesus as my Savior.  I admit that I am a sinner.  I ask the Lord to cleanse all my sins with his precious blood.”  He was no longer so filled with pride.  Since that day, Wu Weizun received a new life in the Lord.

 

 

 

After Weizun experienced a rebirth, God cultivated him in all areas of life.  When he graduated from the middle school and was about to enter senior high school, God allowed him to learn the value of not telling lies and the lesson of holding steadfastly to biblical truths.  These exercises paved the foundation for his later ministries.

 

In January 1945, Weizun attended senior high school in the Xishan region of Zhejiang province.  During the winter break, he read books, conducted spiritual devotions, and meditated in the small hill in the back of the school.  He thought about how the Lord Jesus Christ, despite the fact that he possessed the image of God, “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, in order to save him,.  Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:7-8). 

 

He thought about how, ever since he was in the fifth or sixth grade, he had loved the natural sciences and had determined to study science and engineering in college to one day become an engineer or a scientist.  Yet, on that day, he asked himself, “The Lord has already become humbled for me, what have I done for him?  The Lord has shed blood and given his life for me, what have I surrendered for him?” 

 

He once again meditated upon the Lord’s great love on the cross.  His heart was moved by grace.  He knelt down and said to the Lord, “O Lord, I give myself to you.  I no longer want to become an engineer or a scientist.  I am willing to forego the college entrance examination.  I will do whatever you want me to do.  If you want me to become the preacher I most dreaded becoming, I will be willing.”  After his prayer, he knew that the Lord had already gladly accepted him.

 

Before the senior high school’s graduation examination, Weizun decided that since he had already given his life to the Lord, he would not participate in the college entrance examination.  At that time, his love for the Lord has become more and more passionate.  His nightly prayers have also become longer in duration.  It was as if the Lord was right there next to him, with a strong sense of intimacy, and he had so many things to say to the Lord.  In the beginning, he prayed until 10 p.m.  Later, he would pray until midnight or even early in the morning, laying down for a brief rest only after the rooster had crowed.  Yet, he was in good spirits and was not fatigued.  He continued to attend classes and studied during the daytime.  Eventually, he would pray throughout the night until daybreak (the sun rises early in June).  His classmates were still deep in sleep, but his mind was very awake.  He would then quietly rise from his bed, take a small Bible to the window, sit on a stool, open the Bible.  The Lord spoke to him through the scripture:

 

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38)

 

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

 

 

 

He understood clearly that the Lord was calling him to surrender himself and carry the cross to follow the Lord each day for the rest of his life.  Otherwise, he would not be worthy of being called the Lord’s disciple.  This was the Lord’s lifetime calling to him.  He said to the Lord, “O Lord, I am willing.”

 

In the next few days, he thought even more calmly: “What if the Lord wants me to preach at the border regions?  What if the Lord lets me preach, but no one is willing to listen and no one cares?  What if I become so impoverished as to have no food to eat and no clothes to wear?  What if the Lord allows many people to view me with contempt, to misunderstand me, to falsely accuse me, or to be slandered?  What if the Lord permits me to become seriously ill, to suffer from chronic pain, or to face death?…”   Whatever he could think of and whatever he could possibly face, he considered seriously.  He weighed the matter and repeated to the Lord, “O Lord, I am willing to pay all costs to follow you until the end.”

 

At the same time, he also noticed there would be much opposition from others.  There would be a spiritual war, if he followed the word of the Lord.  As it turned out, a few days later, there was a commotion in the entire school.  “Wu Weizun has gone crazy!”  Wu Weizun is now a fanatical believer of Jesus!  He is neither taking the university entrance examination nor is he eating!”  There were even those who said, “He is heartbroken over a love affair!”  Many of his fellow students and teachers tried to persuade him to prepared for the university entrance examination; yet he turned around and shared the gospel with them, urging them to believe in Jesus.

 

The director of General Administrative Affairs of the school cared a great deal for him.  He made special efforts to urge him to change his mind.  Because the director was unsuccessful, he became desperate: “You were once a very good student; now, you are worthless!  You are even urging me to believe in Jesus?  I will not believe in Jesus even if I go down to hell!”  At the time, he had nothing to respond to this beloved teacher.  However, thanks to the Lord, five years later, Weizun bumped into this teacher in Shanghai.  The Lord had saved him.

 

The Post of the Lay Believer

 

Between fall 1946 and early 1949, Weizun studied at the Shanghai Chinese Theological Seminary.  In early 1949, he began serving as an intern preacher at Shanghai’s [Shouzhen] Keeper of Truth Church.

 

This was an era of turbulence and abrupt changes.  The Nationalist Party was retreating in defeat while the Communist Liberation Army crossed the river en mass.  Shanghai “liberated” in May,   was filled with noise and excitement,  constantly all kinds of rallies and processions.  People performed folk dances, beat drums, and chanted slogans.  Sounds of lyrics like “the sky in the liberated area is bright and clear” were transmitted from the processions into the church that stood next to the street….





 

In the empty church, Weizun was alone as he knelt before God in prayer.  The households in Shanghai were already prepared, with the purchases of foodstuff and salted fish, for the period during which one era will be replaced by another.  For this reason, the Keeper of Truth Church suspended its meetings for two weeks.  Weizun used this time to pray wholeheartedly for the Lord’s will.  He said, “O Lord, please watch over me that I will be a preacher even unto death, that I will never leave the post of the preacher, that I will never do anything else.”  Yet, the Lord’s response was contrary to his prayer.  The Lord did not send him out to be a preacher at that time.  He wanted him to do something else and wait for the Lord.  The response that he had heard from the Lord was, “Wait.  When I need you, I will entrust the work to you and let you do it.”

 

Weizun was clear.  In this time of abrupt changes, the Lord wanted him to be a lay believer an ordinary Christian, not a preacher.  He said, “The Lord did not tell me to be greedy for this world; rather, he gave me a different post from which to continue the fight.  He wants me to please the Lord and serve as His witness from the post of an ordinary teacher.”

 

Beginning in October 1949 and ending in 1957, Weizun served as a middle school teacher in Shanghai for eight years.  During these eight years, Weizun adhered to the “principles of battle” that God gave him: “Give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar; give unto God what belongs to God.”  He also kept his twin identities firmly in mind.  One was his identity as a teacher and the other was his Christian identity.  As a teacher, he did his best to be a good one.  However, he was also clearly aware that his identity as a teacher was only temporary and secondary.  Yet, his identity as a Christian would be for eternity and was thus his primary identity.  When the two identities came into conflict, his identity as teacher had to yield to his Christian identity.

 

“History of Socialist Development” was a Big Lie!

 

After the Liberation, the first battle he fought for God took place when the Hongko district government organized the elementary and secondary school teachers to study the Marxist-Leninist “history of socialist development.”  At the completion of the study, each person was required to write a summary report about how he/she came to understand the “History of Socialist Development” and describe his or her view of the subject.  After prayers, Weizun wrote one sentence on this point:

 

“Through the study of the ‘History of Socialist Development,’ I understand that this developmental history beginning with the evolution of “ape to man” and continuing to the emergence of the “communist society,” is a great lie.

 

As a consequence, the political instructor organized others to “help” him.  Thanks to the Lord, because Weizun was teaching in a church school, most of his colleagues were Christians.  In their hearts, they supported Weizun’s viewpoint.  Therefore, no one spoke a word.  The political instructor was compelled to criticize Weizun, which actually provided an opportunity for Weizun.  The political instructor said, “The God in whom you all believe opposes science!” 

 

 

Weizun replied, “Teacher Chi, where did science and scientific principles come from?  Were they established by man?  No, no one can establish scientific principles; scientists cannot do so. They can only discover and confirm a portion of scientific principles.  The real scientific principles were established by God before He created the heaven, the earth, and all the other creations.  The heaven, the earth, and the creations also adhere to those principles established by God.  Since scientific principles were established by God, why would God oppose those principles that he had established?”  Some teachers smiled in response to these comments, some nodded their heads, and some had no expressions at all.  Weizun also said, “Teacher Chi, the question today is not that God opposes science; but that mankind wants to use science to oppose God.”

 

Many teachers were concerned for Weizun’s welfare as they listened to his arguments.  Weizun himself could only entrust the consequences to the Lord.  Perhaps it was the early part of the post-Liberation period, the school did not follow up on this matter.  The first battle of the “lay believer” ended with the Lord’s mercy.

 

A Controversial Matter

 

Beginning in June 1949, Weizun attended the meetings of the Nanyang Road Church (the Meeting Place of Brother Nee Tuosheng (Watchman Nee).  However, soon he painfully discovered that in order to obtain legal status, the church had to take the Three-Self[1] path.  By the early 1950s, the Meeting Place made a series of decisions: participate in the holiday processions led by the Communist Party; invite the leader of the “Three Self” Wu Yaozong to preach at the Meeting Place; and conduct a “denunciation campaign” in the church. 

 

On April 21, 1951, the People’s Daily published an article entitled “Launch the Christians’ Denunciation Campaign Against American Imperialism.” This demanded that all the Christian organizations throughout the country “launch denunciations against imperialists and their running dogs on a wide scale.”  The Meeting Place decided to join this call for “denunciation.”  Watchman Nee himself personally mobilized everyone.   He emphasized one “viewpoint.” “You have to stand on the ‘people’s’ side and denounce the ‘imperialists.’  There were many things one could denounce.  The entire church body participated when the campaign was further mobilized on Long Jiang Road. 

 

At the time Weizun was just a young man of 25 years.  He couldn’t suppress the anger in his spirit and opposed the conduct of the “denunciation” campaign in the church.  Yet, no one paid attention to his opinion.  Weizun could only cry and pray on his own.  According to the testimony that he later wrote, the Lord spoke to him in his prayers: “Since Brother Nee wants you to denounce from the viewpoint of the ‘people,’ you should denounce from the viewpoint of the ‘people.’” 

 

On June 10, 1951, during the denunciation meeting held at Shanghai’s Nanyang Road Church, Wu Weizun spoke up and used sharp words that were intentionally exaggerated to engage in “denunciation.” “When we tell people the Gospel, we say everyone is a sinner.  If you do not accept Jesus as your own Savior, and ask Jesus to cover your sins with his blood.  You will not escape God’s Judgment.  Today I want to ask you, is Chairman Mao a sinner? He does not believe in Jesus.  Is he going to perish and go to hell? The people tried to hush him up.   Shh.  Where is this man coming from?  The result was mass chaos. 

 

A tall brother with glasses who was in charge of a house division of the church spoke up.  Nanyang Road Church was a very large church.  The congregation was divided into over 10 “houses” according to different districts.  Each “house” had about 100 people and was led by a “house brother or sister in charge.”  Later, the number of houses was expanded to over 20.  Groups made up each “house.” 

 

Another brother asked Liu Liangmo (the official  representative of the Three Self Movement), who presided over the meeting: Does the government allow us to propagate the Gospel or not?   Can we propagate the Lord’s Gospel?  Will the government permit such activity?  As a result, the entire denunciation meeting was unable to continue.  Liu Liangmo could only calm everyone and said a few words about the government’s policy being one that supports the freedom of religion and belief.  The meeting was then abruptly concluded.

 

The tall fellow who asked the question was later persecuted. 

 

 

Two months later, an elder of the Meeting Place notified Weizun to “stop partaking in the bread” because everyone believed that Weizun had already “given up the faith.”

 

It was not until 1964 that Weizun had the opportunity to restore communication with two members of the Nanyang Road Meeting Place.  At the time Weizun went to Beijing to conduct the baptismal service for a young man.  He discovered that the father of the young man was one of the brothers in charge of the houses at the Nanyang Road Church.  This elderly brother had always thought that Weizun had “given up the faith.”  Weizun wrote to him: “My denunciation at the time did not disobey the Lord and it did not signal that I had given up the faith.  Instead, I was following the Lord’s command to play a negative role.”  This elderly brother was very pleased when he received Weizun’s letter and shared this matter with another elder Brother Du Zhongchen.  They were very pleased about this revelation.

 

This is a rather controversial matter in Weizun’s testimony.  Fifty years later, when Weizun recalled this matter, he still felt that he was playing the negative role that interfered with the denunciation meeting.  His heart was at peace.

 

Preparation to be “Worthy”

 

In 1955, the wife of Weizun’s third older brother introduced a sister who was working in Tianjing to him.  After they started correspondence, Weizun asked the sister: Are you willing to be my partner on the narrow road of the cross that I walk?  Only after the sister had agreed that they decided on a marriage relationship.  In the summer of 1957, Wu Weizun, because of marriage, was assigned to Tianjin.  God had taken him to a new battleground.

 

In the China of 1957, the revolutionary atmosphere was becoming stronger.  Campuses were engaged in the heartless “anti-rightist” campaign.  In the new environment, Weizun continued his past pratice of giving thanks before each meal.  During the noon rest period, he even took out the Bible to read quietly.  On Sundays, the entire faculty of the school would go the nearby villages to engage in labor activities, but he would request a half-day off to “congregate and worship God.”  His colleagues at the school thought he was strange: “This teacher from Shanghai is so religiously superstitious!  How can he be a teacher?”  Soon after, he was sent down to the villages in the countryside to engage in labor activities.

 

The original objective of the school for sending him down to the countryside was to reform his thinking.  However, in the two years that he was in the countryside, he used the labor venues as the fields of harvest for the gospel.  That era was the dark age when Christ’s gospel was not heard anywhere within China and when there was no spiritual light shining on China.  Weizun once again pondered upon the grace of God and the tasks with which God had entrusted him.  He thought: God did not make me a preacher or an evangelist.  He allowed me to be an ordinary Christian.  Am I unable to fulfill even this small responsibility?  He was determined to be faithful in this smallest thing and to be faithful until the end.  Therefore, regardless of the person, as long as someone asked about the truths of the Lord, he would share the gospel without any reservation.

 

When he was sent down to the small group for studying, he saw that the objective of the labor activities was to “facilitate the reform of cadres to adopt a materialist worldview and a communist perspective on life.”  He then proceeded to speak up in the small group: “I am a Christian and will always be a Christian.  I cannot and does not plan to reform and transform my self to become a Marxist.  I am unable to heed the call of the party’s central committee.”  The head of the small group regretted his decision and said openly in the group: “If based solely on the fact that you have been living a harsh lifestyle and the proactive nature of your labor activities, you are qualified to become a good communist party member.  However, in terms of ideological reform, you will not be able to pass the bar.  Nonetheless, even if you cannot pass the bar on account of ideological reform, I can let you get by under the justification of “religious belief.”  But the fact that you have been spreading religious superstitions has made things much more serious.  You will therefore be unable to pass the bar.”

 

In those days, Wu Weizun bore tremendous pressures.  One day at noon, he went to a well about one kilometer away to obtain water.  The sky was completely overcast with thunder and lightening.  It looked as if a heavy downpour would take place at any time.  In the event of a rainstorm, the dirt road would become mud and he would be unable to walk on it.  He looked at the clouds, thunder, and lightening that filled the sky.  Suddenly, it was as if God had moved him; he extended his right hand and screamed at the rain that was already coming down: “Stop!”  As a result, just like God had rebuked the wind and the rain in the past, the thunder and the lightening quickly stopped, the rain ended, and the clouds gradually dissipated!  This was the first time that Weizun had witnessed a miracle.  He knew that even though he was living under threats and pressures, God was using this miracle to comfort him, solidify his faith.  He clearly understood: My God is alive and he is in charge of the heaven, the earth, and all the creations!

 

After two years of labor in the villages, he was assigned to a cotton processing plant in a district in the northeastern suburb of Tianjin to continue labor reform.  Two years later, he was reassigned to the original school.  However, because his ideological reform was unsuccessful, he could not be a teacher of the people.  He could only be a researcher of physics in the laboratory.

 

In the seven years between 1957 and 1964, the overall situation in China was becoming ever more tense.  The spiritual battles were also becoming more and more intense.  God was pruining Weizun with even greater severity to prepare his heart and mind for the work that would eventually be entrusted to him.

 

Since the latter half of the 1950s, Wu Weizun began to write “Correspondence in the Body of the Lord” on carbon papers to be sent to different parts of China so as to strengthen the spiritual exchanges between the different members of the body of Christ in different areas.  In the early part of 1960s, he began to engage in regular fasting.  In spring 1964, God allowed him to be prepared to be “worthy.”  At that time, he found out through his correspondence with a brother in the original [Shouzhen] Church that a brother with whom he was close had been imprisoned for fulfilling the responsibility to spread the gospel, which was entrusted to him.  This young brother was betrayed by the head of the [Shouzhen] Church Jiang Mongguang.  The young man was a faithful servant of the Lord and one who was chosen by the Lord, received his training in Jia Yuming’s seminary, and was a fellow deacon at the [Shouzhen] Church.  Weizun’s heart was deeply moved after reading this letter.  He was filled with thanksgiving for this young brother.  He also envied this young brother because the brother had listened to the Lord’s command and was worthy to be humiliated and tortured for the name of the Lord.  He prayed fervently for the imprisoned young brother.  In his prayers, Weizun heard the Lord asking him: “He is worthy, are you worthy?”  He immediately said to the Lord in tears: “O Lord, I want to be worthy, I want to be worthy!”  From that day on, he was even more alert and prepared to be “worthy” at a moment’s notice.

 

The Road of the Cross

 

Two months later, on 30 July in 1964, Wu Weizun was arrested.  When the public security officers appeared before him with a “summon” and a “search warrant,” he was not a bit anxious as a result of the Lord’s grace.  He held his wife’s hands and said the two most important words: “Rely [on the] Lord.”  He then got into the jeep.  At approximately 10 o’clock in the morning, the car proceeded to the public security bureau.  The things outside the car window moved behind him.  Wu Weizun raised his head to look at the sky and his heart was filled with peace.  He knew that God had assigned him to a new battlefield, one that was even more dangerous and threatening but also more important.  The fact that he was worthy to testify for the Lord in that battlefield was truly his honor!  Since he had made the decision in 1945 to carry the cross and follow the Lord for the rest of his life, now was not the time to look back but rather to walk courageously ahead on the road of the cross.                 

 

Naturally, the simple reason for Weizun’s arrest was his faith.  1964 was the time when the entire nation was involved in the “Four Clean-Ups Campaign.”  His school’s principal had already publicly criticized him: “In our school, religious superstitious activities have been very apparent.”  In addition, Weizun had also baptized others and wrote “Correspondence in the Body of the Lord” to be disseminated to different places.  He once wrote a letter to a young man to encourage him: “Since you have already believed the Lord and become a Christian, you should openly acknowledge the Lord’s name, withdraw your membership from the Communist Youth League, and walk the path of the Lord.”  This young man’s withdrawal from the youth league increased the public security bureau’s attention on Weizun: He was “fighting the Communist Party for the next generation.” 

 

In reality, Weizun was initially not “arrested,” only “summoned.”  From man’s perspective, his arrest was entirely the result of his “lack of pragmatism.”  In his heart, Weizun believed: Going to prison was something that he had wished upon himself; it also wasn’t the decision of the public security bureau for him to go to prison; rather, it was the Lord who led him to the prison.  God wanted him to become a good Christian as a prisoner; to obey the Lord’s command as a prisoner and follow God’s will.  Therefore, once he entered prison, he established for himself a fighting principle in the spiritual conflict: When interrogated, he would “refuse to respond, refuse to explain, refuse to admit his crimes, and refuse to repent.”

 

Over a month after he entered prison, he maintained these four-noes principles during the eight times that he was interrogated.  During the seventh interrogation, he was forced to write responses to five questions.  He prayed as he wrote his responses.  The fourth question was: “How has the government’s policy of religious freedom been correctly implemented and executed?”  He responded directly and truthfully: It was precisely this type of so-called policy of the “freedom of belief and religion” that has led to actions that include the banning of and attacks on many churches in the country and the arrest, imprisonment, and conviction of many Christians and servants of God for their refusal to accept the party’s leadership of God’s church and God’s servants.  My own arrest and imprisonment is a piece of new proof in this regard.

 

The fifth and last question read: “How do you assess the Three Self Patriotic Movement that was initiated by the country’s Christian community?”  Initially, he wanted to respond to this question from an affirmative perspective.  Yet, suddenly he did not feel at peace.  The Holy Spirit shined upon him, so he wrote the following words:

 

Just when I was prepared to write down my response based on biblical truths regarding the assessment of the “Three Self” movement, the Holy Spirit suddenly stopped me and refused to allow me to write.  The Spirit also showed me a biblical verse.  This verse was: “Do not give to the dog things that are holy and do not throw pearls before the pig, out of concern that it would defile the pearls and turn around and bite you.”  Therefore, I will not respond to this question from the affirmative perspective.  Note: The “dog” and “pig” to which the Lord Jesus referred were not actual dog and pig.  Rather, he was referring to people who “did not treat things that are holy as holy” and those who “do not treat pearls as treasures.”

 

His response caused a great uproar.  During the eighth interrogation, the interrogator angrily said: “There have been countless great pastors and great evangelists who have gone through my hands, and yet I have not seen anyone as reckless as you!”  After the eighth interrogation, the interrogator gave him an arrest warrant and said that he “was eating the fruit of his own labor.”  He calmly signed the warrant.  The light of the Lord shined upon him once again.  He said to himself: “Although I am not a great pastor, a great evangelist, but as long as depend closely on the Lord, rely on the Lord’s mercy, follow the Lord faithfully, and do not avoid the cross that I should bear, then I can also achieve victory and be a good witness in front of man.”

 

After the Conviction, Follow the Lord until the End

 

In February 1967, the court issued his sentence: life imprisonment.  When he received the sentence, his heart was very peaceful and filled with thanksgiving.  He immediately thought: “The servant cannot be greater than the master.  My Lord Jesus whose cup from the Father was death, not life imprisonment.  Moreover, it was nailing on the cross, which was the most humiliating, cruel, and painful (even God the Father left Him) death sentence.  The cup that God the Father gave me is comparably much lighter by several times.  He event kept my life and that my body still remains healthy….  When the Lord received his death sentence on the cross, he accepted with a glad heart and in obedience.  I have only been given life imprisonment, why can’t I be like the Lord and accept it with a glad heart and in obedience?  The Lord once said: You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with….(Mark 10:39)  Since God the Father has shown me mercy today and gave me this cup, I should drink the cup that the Father gave me, until the end.”

 

In general, convicted prisoners were allowed to meet with their families.  He also wrote to his wife to tell her that he had accepted the conviction, asking her to meet him.  He also asked her to bring to him another washbasin because the original one already had a hole.  He hoped to see his wife to speak a few more words to her.  After the letter was sent and on the date that they were to meet, the captain (the disciplinary cadre in the reform-through-labor team) gave him a washbasin from his home, but his wife did not show up.  Weizun wrote again, including some encouraging words in the Lord.  The captain scolded him for writing “muddled” things and refused to send the letter for him.

 

After some time, the court sent a cadre to tell Weizun that his wife wanted to divorce him.  This was a completely unexpected piece of news to Weiun.  He immediately prayed about it.  It was during the height of the Cultural Revolution.  At a time and in an environment of unprecedented danger, his wife was alone in the world and undoubtedly bore considerable pressure.  He understood her weakness and agreed to the divorce.  They did not have children and Weizun did not ask for shares in any property.  Therefore, the whole matter was finished with his signature.

 

Weizun never regretted marrying the sister because at the time of the marriage he was certain that the two of them would walk together on the narrow path of the cross.  Now that the sister has weakened and retreated from the path of the cross, Weizun only felt sorry for her and prayed for her.

 

According to some reports, she later married an old laborer.  However, this did not release her from the pressurized environment of the Cultural Revolution.  After the divorce, Weizun was even more carefree.  He thought, although I am alone, I will bear the cross from the rest of my life and follow the Lord until the end.

 

Defending the Field of Lentils

 

“Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory.”

-- II Samuel 23:11-12 

 

After Weizun was imprisoned, he could not remember clearly the verse and chapter references of this passage.  However, he remembered the content of these two verses.  David’s warrior Shammah stood in a field full of lentils.  Confronting a multitude of Philistines, he defended that field of lentils and did not retreat even one step.  As a result, he changed the entire battle, ensuring that the Israelites would emerge victorious in the face of defeat.  Defending that field of lentils thus became the key to securing the victory.  The Lord shined upon Weizun, allowing him to know clearly that insisting on saying grace before meals is the “field of lentils” in the spiritual warfare that was being waged inside the prison.  He had to defend this field.

 

Once he entered prison, he would say grace before meals.  He did not hide his action and he was unafraid that others would see him because this was a testimonial.  The instructor in the prison declared to him: “If you want to eat, then you cannot read (say grace).  If you read (say grace), then you cannot eat.”  Weizun then gave his bowl and chopsticks to the administrator and refused to eat.  Four or five days later, the judge at the hearing scolded him: “Not eating and conducting a hunger strike are acts of refusing the dictatorship of the proletariat.”  Yet, Weizun insisted: “I certainly do not have any intention of conducting a hunger strike and seeking death.  I only want to say grace before my meals.”  In the light of this situation, the prison authorities could only change the hearing judge and made some minor compromises.  They allowed Weizun to eat at times while denying him food at others because they would not allow him to say grace.

 

Half a year later, Weizun’s sufferings increased.  He was forced to wear a set of heavy handcuffs.  This set of handcuffs was heavy and cold, imposing much pain and suffering on him.  He could not sleep at night.  However, the Lord was with him and personally led him in the battle.  He declared once again: He would not eat if he’s not allowed to say grace.  From this day forward, he would no longer eat the food provided by the government if he was not permitted to say grace.  Two days later, the detention center removed his handcuffs.  In the meantime, the detention center organized seven or eight prisoners to “help” him.  The staff of the detention center would stand outside his cell door to observe.  One prisoner would strike Weizun’s chin with his fist.  In that one moment, his mouth was filled with blood, which dripped on his body and the floor.  This prisoner would yell at him: Stand up!  Stand at attention!  At the same time, he would shout out commands: “Walk two steps forward!  Turn around!….”  Meanwhile, he demanded Weizun to answer his provocative questions.  If he did not respond, the prisoner would use his two hands to “slap! slap!…”, hit Weizun’s cheeks from the left and the right.   

 

During this inhuman torture, the Lord’s words constantly echoed in Weizun’s ears and lingered in his mind.  “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Matthew 5:39-41).  “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)  Thanks to the Lord, the Lord’s words became the sharp weapons in his hands during his battles.  Facing the commands of that evil one, Weizun obeyed and did as he was told.  As for those provocative questions, he followed the Lord’s way and was silent.  Listen to the Lord’s words and act according the Lord’s will place one on solid grounds and achieve victory in battle.

 

After two hours of repeated physical abuses and torture, that prison became tired and declared that the “criticism session” was over.  The head of the detention center asked him: “How do you feel about everyone helping you?  Are you willing to accept the help?”  He answered: “Director, I have no complaints about anything that the government or the prisoners do to me.  I gladly accept whatever you do to me.”  The director thought that he had surrendered and was very happy.  He said: “You did the right thing.  You should have changed your ways earlier.  Why suffer so much?….”

 

Weizun heard the response from the director and thought that the director might have mistaken his words.  He immediately added: “Director, you are mistaken.  The fact that I gladly accept your actions toward me without complaints does not mean that I will not listen to the Lord Jesus from this day on.  As a Christian, listening to the words of the Lord Jesus will also be the priority.  I must listen to the Lord Jesus and will continue to do so.”  The director of the detention center was incredulous and was enraged: “Fine, fine.  You insist on your reactionary position and remain stubborn until the end.  This makes things easy for me!  We shall see in the days to come!”

 

Weizun once again returned to the large cell.  After insisting on fasting for seven days, he was taken to an empty room.  Several prison administrators twisted his arms with one person pressing on his head from the back.  They stuffed a metal instrument into his mouth and forcibly inserted a feeding tube to pour food into his stomach.  The whole process was extremely difficult to endure.  However, Weizun did not resist.  After the forced feeding, once the tube was removed and the metal instrument was removed, he stood up and loudly gave thanks: “I thank the Heavenly Father for using this method to keep me alive!”  He gave a testimony of thanksgiving in the presence of the director and all others.  Thereafter, every time the prison administrators forced buns into his mouth, he would look up at the sky and say loudly: “I thank the Heavenly Father for using this method to keep me alive!”

 

In July 1966, the procuratorate’s statement of charges against him was thus recorded: “The prisoner has been imprisoned for a long time and has used the excuse of “saying grace before meals” to engage in illegal activities and damage prison discipline.  On numerous occasions, he has even employed fasting as a means to resist the dictatorship of the proletariat….”

 

After Weizun was officially sentenced to life imprisonment, he was transferred from the Tianjin detention center to the Tianjin reform-through-labor bureau.  One month later, he was assigned to the reform-through-labor team in a steel factory in the city of Pingluo in Ningxia province.  It was the height of the Cultural Revolution.  He still maintained his faith and insisted on his “refusal to be reformed.”  He was willing to pay the price for his refusal.  Weizun insisted on not reading Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book,” not answering any questions, not singing the revolutionary songs, and not hailing long life to Chairman Mao.  The group leader and other members of the group ordered him to kowtow to the pictures of Chairman Mao, and he refused.  For this reason, over 10 persons kicked and hit him.  He was resigned to lying in the dirt and let them kick and him him.  This was the first time that he was beaten in the reform-through-labor team.  After this incident, he was beaten numerous times.  Some people whipped him with leather belts, some hit his cheeks with the shoe bottoms, and others used wooden clubs to strike the top of his head.  There was even one team leader who used a lighted smoke pipe to burn his nostrils.  Weizun believed that all of these inhuman tortures were “permitted by the Lord and therefore are of benefits to me.”

 

Just as the case when he was at the detention center, the reform-throug-labor team leader announced to him: “If you want to eat, then you cannot pray; if you pray then you cannot eat.”  Weizun knew that the campaign to “defend the field of lentils” has entered an even more difficult phase because it was the height of the Cultural Revolution and the entire labor team would cease production for six months to engage in Cultural Revolution studies.  However, he firmly believed that the Lord who sent him would ensure that his “strength [would] equal his days.” 

 

The war began.  He would no longer eat for which he could say grace.  One day, two days…when he had not eaten for four and five days and was extremely weak, he was forced to run as a punishment.  When he did not eat for the seventh day, after night fell, he was taken to an empty room where he suffered scolding and where four people started to him until he became unconscious.  He later recalled: Thank the Lord; it was so good to be unconscious.  There was no pain once you became unconscious.  He was repeatedly tortured and beaten and forced fed.  However, because his body had undergone too much torture, he would vomit the food.  The leader of the labor team would then force him to clean the things he vomited by licking them with his tongues.  He would prostrate on the ground to lick the things he had vomited.  He was beaten until the latter half of the nigh when the team leader instructed other prisoners to spray water on him.  This type of torture would continue for several days.  The wounds that he incurred would only be healed after one to two years. 

 

The Chinese historical texts always record different types of corporal punishments that are in the prisons.  They also record numerous and generation after generation of tough individuals who have been thoroughly tortured yet refused to surrender.  The difference is that although Weizun had borne all the tortures and refused to surrender, he was not a tough guy.  He was meek and weak.  Those who beat him would ask him after they became tired of beating him: Do you hate us?  Weizun said: Not one bit and I have no complaint against anyone.  This was because his Lord had even prayed for those who nailed Him to the cross.

 

Finally, although he was still not permitted to say grace while in prison, there would be one meal in three days that was an exception.  When it was time for the meal, he was taken to an isolated empty room.  One group leader would watch him eat.  He would then be able to eat a meal for which he technically could not say grace but in actually could.  Later, the prison’s party secretary (the most senior leader of the prison) said to him: If you want to say grace before meals, we will allow you to do so in your heart.  If you express it openly and affect other prisoners, we will not permit it.  When Weizun heard this, he became alarmed.  The Lord’s light had shined upon him: You cannot even make this one compromise!  He replied: “Party Secretary, our Christian faith is a function of a close connection between faith and expressed deeds.  Faith without deeds is not true faith, but dead faith, phony faith.  It is natural that true faith must have its corresponding expression through deeds.  I cannot satisfy the conditions that were outlined by the party secretary.”  The negotiation had failed and no agreement was reached.  The war of eating one meal every three days could only continue, until the six-month of concentrated Cultural Revolution studies and movement ended.

 

The Prisoner among Prisoners

 

Two years later, on September 10, 1970, he was assigned to Group One in Squad One.  It was the toughest group where the most recalcitrant prisoners have been reformed after joining the group.  After he went there, the group leader officially made the initial demands, which were very simple.  There were only two demands.  First, he would not say grace before each meal.  Second, he would read the Little Red Book.  He did not need to do both at the same time.  He would only have to do one of the two and the choice was his.  He immediately and clearly said to the group leader: He would not be able to satisfy any of the two demands.  The contradiction has intensified.  Suddenly, he became the target of struggle and the heart of attack by all the prisoners in the group.  All the contradictions and criticisms targeted toward others were temporarily put aside.  The group leader and all the other prisoners in the group concentrated their firepower and used every conceivable method to make things difficult for him and to torture him.

 

Once, they said: As long as Weizun was willing to read (read aloud or recite) one sentence in the Little Red Book or say “long life [literally, tens of thousands of years]” or “boundless life” to Chairman Mao, then they would permit him to say grace before meals.  He would then thought about this proposal before the Lord: He remembered that the Bible’s teachings include the words “fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17) and “I tell you that you must first supplicate, pray, beseech, and give thanks for the tens of thousands; and do the same for the kings (political leaders) and all who are in power.”  Therefore, he said before everyone in the group: “I wish Chairman Mao and Vice-Chairman Lin good heath.”  They all shouted with joy: “It’s possible!  It’s possible!”  Although there were two or three people who remained unsatisfied because he did not say “long live” or “boundless life,” but someone said: “Don’t be impatient, we’ll take it slow.  There is hope!”

 

That day, they were very good to Weizun.  They filled his stomach with three meals.  On the next day, the group leader and everyone in the group said to him: “Today, you have made progress.  Don’t say what you said yesterday; just say: “Long life to Chairman Mao,” “Boundless life to Chairman Mao.”  However, after trying to persuade him for a long time and after waiting for a long time, Weizun was still unwilling to change his words, regardless of whether they allowed him to eat.  They were extremely furious and did not give Weizun anything to eat.

 

Some one said to him privately: Why were you willing to wish Chairman Mao good health but were unwilling to call out “Long life to Chairman Mao” or “boundless life”?

 

Weizun replied: The former was a prayer to the supreme God on behalf of the political leaders.  Such a prayer would please God because it places the supreme God in the first place.  The latter treats Chairman Mao as a god and in essence places the leader in the highest position.  God despise and is displeased by such a prayer.  Moreover, it is impossible to live “tens of thousands of years.”  Even live to 100 years old is difficult to do.  Furthermore, Chairman Mao will never have “boundless life.”  Rather, his life will be “bounded.”  Therefore, why should I say nonsense that does not adhere to God’s will?

 

The time spent in Squad One was the last and most difficult part of the battle to defend the field of lentils.  However, he said: “I thank the Lord that I am a free man!”  He said this because he insisted on the principle of “no.”  He insisted on being “unreformed.”  Therefore, those “reformed” regulations could not bind him, could not constrain him.

 

The Third Moment of Weakness

 

Yet, he understood that his strength and freedom were entirely dependent on God’s grace.  If he had departed from the Lord, he would have fallen long ago.  He recorded the three moments of weakness that he experienced.  The first time was during the initial period after liberation when he was a middle school teacher.  During the movement of ideological reform, there was a time when he was rewarded by his superiors.  Afterwards, he unconsciously wanted to work harder to run on the worldly path.  He began to grow distant from God and he did not love the Lord like he used to.  However, thank God, two weeks later, the Holy Spirit shined upon him, allowing him to see the crisis that he was experiencing on the spiritual path.  By depending on the Lord’s strength, he was able to restore the intimate relationship that he had with God.

 

The second time was in 1956 when he was teaching at the Tongji Middle School in Shanghai.  There was someone at another unit who wanted to transfer him.  The person took a picture of a young man and asked whether he knew the man in the picture.  He recognized that the young man was the brother in Christ who in 1951 had taken away his speech during the “denunciation movement,” and said so.  Afterwards, Weizun was extremely disturbed.  He predicted that this brother was at the time already under investigation.  He did not know whether his identification (although it was the truth) would bring about even worse consequences for the brother.  Weizun did not know at the time where he had gone wrong.  He later understood that he should not have said anything because in so doing, he was “confessing.”  As a result of his “confession,” the brother could suffer.  Therefore, later, he established for himself the principle of “no talking and no confession,” so as to avoid offending God.

 

The third time was after he was arrested in 1966.  Once, the hearing official showed him a piece of paper with a picture of a map of China.  The center of the map was Tianjin.  Quite a few lines radiated from the center to every part of the country to illustrate his relationships with the members of the body of Christ in other parts of the country.  The hearing official said: If you find this map to be correct, then sign your name at the bottom.  At this time, Weizun was not very alert and actually signed his name.  Once he returned to the prison cell, the Holy Spirit shined upon him: Why did he sign?  Wasn’t signing tantamount to confession?  As a result, that day when the group leader threatened to take away his food, he became afraid and began to eat very quickly.  He was afraid that the food would be taken away.  As a consequence, that night he suffered from diarrhea.  It was already after the restroom breaks, he couldn’t go to the restroom so he had to use a large urine can.  He was scolded by his cellmates.  On the next day, he declared that he was wrong in signing the document on the previous day and asked that the document be voided.  He also asked God to forgive him for his weakness and failure, and to correct and restore him, as well as to lead him to fight the battle that lie ahead.  Since that moment he recognized: He was neither better nor stronger than others.  Without the Lord’s mercy, he would sin and fail as usual, and possibly fail even worse than others.  From this failure, he knew that there was nothing about him that deserved boasting.  He could only rely on the Lord ever more.

 

The Life Prisoner outside the Wall

 

At the end of the 1970s, the wind of reform and opening blew across the great land of China.  It was also blown into Yinchuan’s “Ningxia Regional Prison,” otherwise known as the Yinchuan Fan Factory.

 

Many among the over 200 prisoners in the Tianjin system who were serving life sentences in Ningxia had already received reductions in sentencing or release.  During the mid-1970s, there were still six “unreformed” persons.  In 1978, there were only two such persons.  In 1979, one of these two prisoners re-appealed his sentence and was released in that year.  Until then, there was only one among the 200-plus prisoners who remained and he was Weizun.

 

At the time, the wind to write appeals and seek rehabilitation was blowing hard.  Many people told him to appeal and seek rehabilitation.  However, he clearly said: I will not appeal.  In Spring 1981, during the annual reward and punishment assembly held for the entire prison, the prison authority announced that he was also on the list of those who would receive sentence reductions.  The sentence-reduction verdict of Ningxia’s Superior Court wrote that his life sentence had been reduced to six years imprisonment.  In other words, he would be released after six years.  The verdict of the Ningxia Superior Court argued that he positively participated in labor reform, was earnest in teaching, and adhered to the regulations and disciplines of the prison.  This verdict indicated that he had expressed repentance, confirming that he had “indeed repented.”  For this reason, his sentence was reduced.  Yet, he believes: This sentence reduction and the freedom in six years were not given to him without a price; they had to be paid by the notion that he had “indeed repented.”  “Repentance” suggests that he would treat the things that the Lord had entrusted to him in the past as “sins.”  However, that would be to humiliate the Lord and to resist God.  He though, if he agreed to this “repentance,” wouldn’t the war that he had fought all these years essentially be fought in vain?  Wouldn’t the sufferings he had borne be borne in vain?  Is this filthy “freedom” so worthy of his envy?  Could he discard the cross that the Lord had given him on this matter?  Therefore, he rather chose the path of “others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35) and refused to be released.

 

On May 28, 1987, the day when he was forced to leave the prison, he wrote the “submission on the day of release” to the region’s highest People’s Court.  In the submission, he once again made clear the fact that he had not “repented.”  He said:

 

Here, I have no choice but to risk the suspicion that I am protesting against the government and the dictatorship of the proletariat (I think that the court may be able to understand) and concretely and briefly describe my absolutely and completely unrepentant actions during the twenty-some years in prison since July 1964:

 

On July 30, 1964, I was summoned by the Public Security Bureau in Tianjian.  Since the first hearing, other than my name, I have stopped providing answers to all questions posed by the hearing official.  In actuality, I continue to refuse to explain any crime.  (Naturally, when I was honest they were lenient and when I was resistant they were severe.  From this point the situation was gradually escalated: from summon to detention, to arrest, to indictment, and to the sentence of life imprisonment.)  After I was held for one and half year under this condition of refusing to explain any crime, the head hearing official had tried one more time to persuade me to change my ways.  He selected a few items among my crimes and initiated the effort to open up, clarify, and even point out the errors among these cases.  He urged me to consider after returning to the prison.  The next day, my answer to him was: “I have no regrets over the things that you have mentioned yesterday.”  Another half year later, in the intermediate court’s courtroom, other than my name and a response to one question (Question: Are you a Christian?  Answer: Yes, I am a Christian), I still did not respond to all the questions posed to me.

 

In the twenty-plus years that I have been serving my sentence, I have refused to remark, write, and participate in any matter that is related, even indirectly, with “confession” or the “reform of the criminal nature.”  In the twenty-plus years in prison, I have not made one remark, expressed my attitude, discussed my understanding, or respond to related questions from the cadres and other prisoners in numerous large meetings, small meetings, study sessions, discussions, and seminars.  In fact, I was so cautious as to have failed to read aloud one piece of document, newspaper, or the Little Red Book; I didn’t even sing one revolutionary song.  All of these things were done to avoid becoming entangled with the “reform of the criminal nature.”  I have never written one time or one word during the numerous occasions when each prisoner was required to write guarantees, reform plans, ideological reports, reform summaries or briefings, and even the required “reform diary.”  In the numerous examinations on politics, current affairs, ethics, laws, and other topics, other than my name, my exam papers were always blank.  The countless aforementioned facts and actions demonstrate (if the court will conduct a little investigation, it will not be difficult to see that all these actions were consistent and irrefutable facts) that I have not the least accepted the “reform of criminal thoughts and criminal nature” that I was forced to be engaged in while I was serving my sentence.  I have refused them all.

 

As for the point mentioned in the verdict that I had “complied with the disciplining,” I did not comply every time.  In fact, I had made clear distinctions between the two kinds of situations that were of different nature and I treated each one accordingly.  On the first kind of disciplining, as mentioned earlier, I have never complied in the least with the countless measures of reform and discipline that the prison authority had conducted on me.  I have refused all of them and stubbornly maintained such resistance for over 20 years, until today.

 

On the second kind, with respect to the other regulations, orders, and arrangements that were unrelated to my “reform of the criminal thoughts and criminal nature,” to which, subjectively speaking, I had adhered and with which I had complied.  However, was the latter part of the second kind of disciplining – the action of “complying with the disciplining” – a “demonstration of my repentance”?  On the contrary, it was not a demonstration of my “compliance with the disciplining.”  None of it was the consequence of repentance.  In fact, it was my “demonstration of non-repentance.”  The reason is that before I entered prison, I had always taken the same position with respect to similar cases.  Can anyone point out which point was a function of my repentance?

 

The verdict also noted that I had “worked proactively.”  It was probably referring to the fact that I was more attentive and diligent when engaged in the production labor and the subsequent teaching.  Even if one does not list certain unavoidable weaknesses and mistakes on my part, even if there were indeed a few things that were worthy of praise, none of it was a demonstration of my repentance.  On the contrary, all of them were demonstrations of my unrepentance for things that I had done consistently before becoming imprisoned.

 

If one put together all my deeds while I was serving my sentence, was there any major item or minor items such as the utterance of one sentence or the display of one gesture that was genuinely said, written, or done which reflected my repentance?  If there was, I am willing to admit that I did “indeed have demonstrations of repentance.”  If so, there would perhaps be no shame in receiving a sentence reduction.  Yet, if you’re unable to fine one little cases, then why must you violate the principle of “seeking truth from facts” and insist on imposing the disingenuous label of “repentance” on a prisoner who has been completely unrepentant just so that he would receive a sentence reduction that would allow him to be released?  Even more importantly, as a Christian, I should not commit the evil of assuming a “label” that was not mine to assume.  Not only am I not shown “demonstrations of repentance,” I actually “indeed have no demonstration of repentance.”  All of my actions were displays of unrepentance and do not meet the fundamental conditions that would lead to a reduction in sentence.  I can only remain a prisoner for life.

 

Since during these six years, the court never retracted this erroneous verdict that does not seek truth from the facts and has not verity, and since, as a prisoner of the dictatorship, I was unqualified to force the court to do anything, I am “forced” to have no normal course of action except to take one of the two following steps starting this day of release.  First, I will not use the certificate of release to process any post-release procedures.  I will not return to Tianjin or be reunited with my relatives in the south.  I will not enjoy any freedoms and rights obtained from this erroneous verdict.  I will not depart from the prison and go anywhere and to any unit to receive any employment (including the work of a permanently stationed factory laborer).  The reason is that even though I have reluctantly (in order not to resist the prison’s law enforcement duties) gone to the other side of these prison walls, I would remain a prisoner who was given a life sentence.  (Even though I will not admit to the crime and will absolutely refuse to repent, I nonetheless maintain an attitude of “sincere and joyful compliance” with the life sentence.  From now on, I will maintain this attitude and accept the situation imposed upon me with no complaint.)  Second, starting with this day of release, I will engage in limited fasting.  (As long as there is no external interference or imposition, I will stay within the scope of this limited fasting.  In other words, I will maintain the continuation of life.  However, if others interfere or impose force against me, this vow will no longer apply.)  This act of fasting is intended to demonstrate the following two points.  First, I have not the least repentance for all my “crimes.”  Second, and therefore, the verdict that was handed to me in 1981 was wrong and did not fit with the facts.  I refuse to accept this erroneous verdict.  In so doing, I want to allow the court to have sufficient time to conduct an investigation for the purpose of understanding the situation and eventually reconsider its decision.  If that day arrives, when the erroneous verdict is retracted and canceled, which also means that the label of “repentance” that has been assigned to me has also been canceled, it naturally implies that the original position of a prisoner serving a life sentence has been restored to me.  Then I shall be happy to end this act of fasting and do what I am required to do.

 

Moreover, I hereby attach a declaration.  Since the Gang of Four was crushed, especially since the Third Plenum of the 11th Party Congress, the overall situation of the nation has greatly improved.  In terms of policy, there has been great increase in latitude.  The treatment and punishment of the prisoners have increasingly improved.  These are developments for all to see and cannot be denied.  I have experienced and am profoundly grateful for the concerns, care, and the preferential treatments extended to me by the leaders and the management cadres of the prison.  I herewith express my thanks to the prison’s leadership, section chiefs, and other cadres.  (Of course, what is said here has no relation to the aforementioned great matter.)  I hereby submit this special report and give my salute.

 

 

Wu Weizun

 The Prisoner for Life Who is Outside the Prison Walls

May 28, 1987 (Esther: The Chinese way: the date is at the end of letter)

 

 

In the last six years that he was in prison, he clearly understood the last stage of the task of witnessing with which God has entrusted him, which was to execute the two limitations that God had given him.  First, to fast at designated times.  This action serves to testify his unchanging Christian heart.  Since he left the prison, he would eat on Mondays and Thursdays, and fast on the other days.  Second, he would not take one step outside the city of Yinchuan or away from the prison.  He kept his position and status as the “prisoner for life outside the prison walls.”  After he left the prison, he stayed in a dilapidated room that was 14.6 square meters in size that God had provided to him through the prison.  He never took one step outside Yinchuan.

 

When Wu Weizun was executing these two limitations, he would often receive many “persuasive obstructions.”  The leader of the prison did what he was supposed to do, to persuade Wu Weizun to give up his fasting and eat meals on a normal basis.  He even took some people from the “Three-Self Church” to persuade him.  In addition, his relatives and many brothers and sisters in Christ tried to persuade him to leave Yinchuan and go elsewhere to serve God.  However, he graciously refused their efforts and was fearful of canceling the regular fasting on his own.  He was also not willing to leave Yinchuan to go elsewhere.  The reason was that he clearly understood that God had already used the illustration of the man of God in Chapter 13 of First Kings to admonish him.  God had already told the man of God that he “must not eat bread or drink water [at Bethel] or return by the way you came.”  However, the man of God listened to the old prophet and violated God’s command, and died as a result.

 

China’s Epaphras

 

During the 1900 Boxer religious persecution, tens of thousands of Western missionaries and Chinese Christians were martyred.  At the same time, a group of important servants who would be used greatly by God during the 20th century, including Wang Mingdao, Nee Tuosheng (Watchman Nee), and Song Shangjie, were born around this time.  About a quarter century later, a generation of individuals who were especially called by God, including Wu Weizun, Lin Xiangao (Samuel Lamb), and Li Musheng, were born.  The Lord who oversees the universe, time, and history created generation after generation of Chinese to follow him.  Generation after generation, He also called, chose, molded, and used those Chinese who pleased Him.  Undoubtedly, those who were born in the 1920s and were of the same generation as Wu Weizun were members of a special generation who were built up by God through a special historical setting.

 

These individuals were born in the uncertain 1920s.  Since childhood, they have tasted the bitterness of poverty, wars, and chaos.  Yet, God’s grace descended upon them.  The bumpy wandering road actually led them to the gate of eternal salvation.  In the national territory that had succumbed to foreign forces, they became the citizens of the kingdom of heaven.  God also used the group of missionaries who were born in the 1900s, such as Wang Mingdao, to spiritually nurture them and built them up.  Moreover, He gave them a major revival in the 1940s, because at that time “the night is coming when no one can work.”  That was the eve of the great darkness and the great war.  God prepared, built up, and strengthened for himself a group of people who would shine in the darkness.

 

After 1949, Wu Weizun and those in his generation all experienced sufferings and trials during the latter half of the 20th century.  They all experienced daily and enduring persecution, struggle, inspection, accusation, humiliation, beating, and imprisonment.  This long and seemingly endless suffering mercilessly inspected everyone’s faith.  There were many who martyred and there were many who fell, weakened, and retreated.  Yet, God has wondrously “reserve[d] seven thousand – all whose knees have bowed down to Baal.”  Today, although these “seven thousand” people who persisted to the end are already old, they still hold the ambition of “an old horseman who still ride thousands of miles.’  They continue to give all their effort and with loyalty stand their guard until the last shift.  They are undoubtedly the treasure and wealth of the Chinese church.

 

Yet, God has led each of them in different ways and used each of them differently from the others.  There were some who martyred during the great sufferings and have rested in the Lord.  There were others who after serving over 20 years in prison have immediately restored their original ministries.  After their release, these individuals re-opened their house churches (such as Yuan Xiangzheng (Allen Yuan) and Samuel Lamb).  Still, there were others who roamed everywhere to build and teach churches in different places (such as Li Musheng).  Yet, God gave Wu Weizun a special mission.

 

In 1926, when Wu Weizun was born, his mother gave him the name of a Biblical figure: Epaphras.  If one examines the Bible, there are three places that contain records related to Epaphras. 

 

“You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.” (Colossians 1:7-8)

 

“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.” (Colossians 4:12-13)

 

“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings.” (Philemon 1:23)

 

As we have seen, the Epaphras of the Bible was (1) a loyal minister of Christ; (2) he often prayed for the churches, with great efforts; and (3) he was imprisoned along with Paul.

 

In the summer of 1949, when the head of the Chinese Theological Seminary Bi Lude [sic] (an American) left Shanghai for the United States, Wu Weizun wrote a card in English to bid farewell: “Dear Mother, please don’t worry.  I will always follow my Lord.”  The note was signed “Epaphras.”  In 1964, after he entered prison, he loved to use the name “Epaphras” even more because it reflected his status as a prisoner.  He hoped that he would be a good “Chinese Epaphras.”

 

In 1955, after writing that famous combative essay “We are for Our Faith,” Wang Mingdao was arrested on August 10.  As a consequence, the Spiritual Food Quarterly that he founded, which contained essays he personally wrote, was closed.  In 1927, the first issue of the Spiritual Food Quarterly was officially published.  For 28 years, it bore the responsibility of building up believers through the Biblical truths and teaching the Chinese churches through the Biblical truths.  Until 1955, after the Spiritual Food Quarterly was closed, and the voice of the truth disappeared, the Chinese church entered the dark ages.

 

Yet, in the latter half of the 1950s, after the Spiritual Food Quarterly ceased circulation, Wu Weizun began to write the letters and short essays in his “Correspondence in the Body of Christ.”  He sent the publication to the members of the body throughout the country and encourage the brothers and sisters who were disbursed everywhere to uphold their faith.  In the beginning, he handwrote the letters and the essays.  Later, through the suggestion of the wife of his third oldest brother, he would use carbon papers to reproduce multiple copies.  One of the charges against him that led to his arrest was his letter to a young man who was reborn, encouraging him to withdraw from the Communist Youth League.

 

After he entered prison in 1964, he began the battle to “defend the field of lentils.”  He continued this task until spring 1980, when his third oldest brother and his wife (who were not only his blood relations, but also his brother and sister in Christ) were able to find his address and began to communicate with him.  In addition, they traveled thousands of miles to visit him.  Thereafter, he gradually obtained contact with many members of the body of Christ. 

 

In the early 1980s, as a result of the major situational changes that were taking place throughout the country, the situation in the prison was also correspondingly more relaxed.  When Weizun sent letters, the prison authorities did not inspect his mail as stringently as before.  Therefore, beginning in 1982, Weizun sent out letter after letter of prison briefs, which were written in the name of “Epaphras.”  The title of all the prison briefs was “Correspondence in the Body of Christ.”  From 1982 to 1987, because he was in prison, he could only hand copy the essays in the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” for distribution or use carbon papers to reproduce the writings.  After he left the prison in 1987, the copies of the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” were mailed after they were copied in the copy stores.

 

When a kernel of wheat fell to the earth, it will produce many other seeds when it dies.  In the early 1980s, after experiencing years of great persecution, numerous Chinese house churches appeared like bamboos after the spring rain.  The brothers and the sisters thirst for God’s words and the house churches needed spiritual guidance.  Just around this time, Epaphras sent out the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” that was written in beautiful characters from the prison, and the writings immediately circulated among the brothers and the sisters.  The essays in the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ,” one after the other and through repeated copying, were re-transmitted countless times throughout the country, from the prison in the northwestern plateau to the great prairie in the middle of the country and then to the scenic southeastern villages.  They were circulated to the house churches throughout the country and were even sent abroad.

 

After the Spiritual Food Quarterly, God prepared the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” to serve the brothers and sisters in the Chinese house churches.  He prepared China’s Epaphras to write the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” in this special environment.  When he was in his mother’s womb, Wu Weizun was already chosen by God to be China’s Epaphras.  After he was called by God, he studied theology but did not become a preacher.  God had even higher purposes for him.  He began a unique writing ministry.  This ministry led him to prison.  Yet, he was able to return to that ministry while in prison.  God used these words to encourage many contemporary believers.  God’s deeds are great and wonderful!

 

The number of pages in the different editions of the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” varied.  Each time, Epaphras the author wrote as the Holy Spirit led him.  The contents of the correspondence were the dilemmas faced by the contemporary house churches.  Many were questions raised by the brothers and sisters in the house churches and his replies to them.  These questions included: “What happens if everyone is weak and cool?”  “Why hasn’t God hear our prayers?”  “What happens if the church faces persecution?”  “Can Christians become members of the Communist Party?”  “Where did the faults of the Three-Self lie?”  Faced with these sharp questions, Epaphras never compromised in his replies.  He always clearly wrote replies that were based on the biblical truths.  He encouraged those weak and cool members of the body and pointed out the way for them: “Confess and repent before God.  Always be alert, prayerful, and seek His will.”  He rebuked the “false masters” and admonished the church to “avoid fermentation” [bi xiao].  He pointed out the best and the only road for those brothers and sisters facing persecution: Walk the way of the cross; only the cross!  He himself carried the cross and relied on the power of the cross to gain victory in the battle to “defend the field of the lentils.”  He relied on the power of the cross to gain victory over the long years of persecution and suffering.  He also encouraged the brothers and the sisters to carry the cross and walk the way of the cross.  He cited Matthew 5:10-11 to encourage the brothers and sisters to be “joyful” when persecuted because that is the Lord’s teaching.

 

Epaphras’ half century of spiritual experiences, his solid theological foundation – especially important were his life experiences in which God placed him in the pit of fire to be molded, and the sharp spiritual vision that was the result of this abundant life allowed him to be like Wang Mingdao – to have the ability to respond to the questions in the Chinese house churches.

 

The Glorious Return of the Lord’s Servant

 

On December 12, 1999, after he served in the unique writing ministry for 17 years, he recorded his testimony, which was entitled: “Epaphras – an Ordinary Christian on Mainland China – Wu Weizun’s Testimony of a Life Filled with the Lord’s Grace in His Own Words.”  At the end of the testimony, he wrote:

 

Now, although I am old, I have still not reached the signpost.  I have yet to complete walking the road and the witness is still not completed.  The battle has yet to achieve the ultimate victory.  It is still not the time for me to sing the hymn of victory.  The possibility for me to backslide again, to depart from the Lord’s path, to be deceived, to quit, to fall short of the goal because of laziness, and to abandon all previous efforts, all continue to exist.  There is absolutely no justification for me to relax my alertness, and rest in the Lord’s grace.  I have seen many tragic prohibitions and painful lessons.  May the Lord have mercy and protect me, save me until the very end, so that I can wait in alertness and walk every step that has not yet been completed, and so that the tremendous grace that the Lord has shown me by shedding his blood will not be in vain.  Ultimately, I hope to finally see the Lord’s glory without shame.

 

In February 2002, he wrote the last “Correspondence in the Body of Christ.”  The title was: “The poisonous sore in the Chinese church is festering and becoming larger!”  In his writings, he rebuked the so-called “theological thought construction movement,” which was represented by the Writings of Ding Guangxun, as essentially the “movement to change and re-create the faith (biblical truths and God’s words).”  Afterwards, he became silent.  He said to the brothers: “Recently, the Lord has not moved me to write anything.  Without the Lord’s inspiration, I cannot write anything.  The Lord moved me to compile all the correspondence essays that I wrote in the past for systematic copying.”

 

In August 2002, he compiled 166 pieces of the “Correspondence in the Body of Christ” that he had written over the last 20 years.  The total number of characters was over one million.  He classified them and provided the serial numbers and placed them in five large mailbags.  He made a special request with a brother to transmit an entire volume to the U.S.-based Christian Life Quarterly

 

Between November 27 and November 30 of 2002, he wrote the last letter to his relatives.  In his letter, he clearly expressed the affairs after his return to his home in Heaven:

 

Since the last six years of imprisonment (the life sentence was reduced to six years), I have become increasingly clear about the last, incomplete stage of the testimonial assignment that God the Father and the Lord Jesus had given me.  This was the two limitations to which I must adhere from the day I left the prison in 1987 until the day when I depart from this world or the day when the Lord Jesus gloriously descend to earth – when all of us believers would be resurrected to see the Lord and wear the spiritual bodies that are like the Lord, which will never rot, and entered his glorious realm.  (1) Execute the regular fasting that permits meals only on Mondays and Thursdays.  This action is a free protest based on my rights as a citizen that is targeted against the Ningxia Court, which created lies and said that I had indeed repented, thereby reducing my sentence and releasing me.  It demonstrates that since I entered prison in Tianjin in July 1964, I have remained unrepentant and I am therefore unqualified to accept a legal reduction of sentence and release.  I should have remained a prisoner for life until the end.  (2) Execute the principle of not leaving the city of Yinchuan and the prison, and continue to be a good “prisoner for life outside the great wall.”  In essence, I am to be, in the government’s parlance, “someone who is being kept alive.”  The purpose of and the meaning behind God’s giving of these two limitations are, on the one hand, that I should comply with and accept the power of the prison (the government organ) to enforce the law (which has nothing to do with whether I’ve repented); on the other hand, once I arrive at the other side of the wall, He wanted me to firmly refuse and resist the court’s falsehood and pretentiousness (which refers to its insistence that I had “indeed repented”).  I have never forgotten or ignored in the slightest degree these two limitations, or testimonial assignments, that were given to me by God in the 15 to 16 years after I left the prison.  Therefore, I had no choice but to heartlessly refused the love and care of the third older brother and his wife as well as those of Zaimian and Wang Zhen.  For this precise reason, regardless of how old and decrepit I become, I ask you to please not come to visit me in Yinchuan (even if it was convenient and possible for you to come, don’t; I thank you, but by all means do not come).  I will remain a part of the prison (or the generator factory).  It is a normal thing if I die, and my body’s cremated and interred and buried in the South Pit.  There is nothing that I can obstruct me from resurrecting with all the believers at the end of the days.  The prison is merely a home in which I have dwelled for a long time, but only temporarily, while in this world, until that day when I’m resurrected and wear the same undefiled spiritual body as the Lord, and enter the eternal home with the Lord.  The reason is that the physical body that will surely be worn away will ultimately return to the dirt, but only the undefiled spiritual body can enter, along with the Lord, the eternal kingdom of the God that will never be worn away.  In past dozen years, the prison has treated me well and has taken care of me.  On this point, I have always been grateful to the government before God, with special thanks to the prison.

 

I will stop for now.  If the Lord permits, I will write a short letter to you each year.  When I die, I have asked Brother Liu Fangxing, who I have known for many years, to phone the third older brother and ask him to tell all of you.

 

May the grace of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.

 

Epaphras

 

November 27 – 30, 2002

 

Twenty days later, in the morning of December 21, 2002, a young couple went to Wu Weizun’s residence within the vicinity of the Yinchuan prison to visit Jesus Christ’s faithful witness Epaphras.  When they knocked on the door, no one responded.  They felt that something was wrong so they jumped over the low wall to enter the residence.  They saw Epaphras on the ground neatly groomed with his glasses.  His countenance was peaceful.  He has already been taken away by the Lord who loved him.

 

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. (1 Corinthians 4:9) 

 

On the great stage of the 20th century Chinese church, many believers performed the drama with their blood and lives for men and angels to see.  The life and witness of Epaphras undoubtedly can be called a wondrous scene on this stage.

 

Since he was called by God, he upheld the resolve to carry the cross for the rest of his life.  He was tested and thrown into the pit of fire like Daniel’s three friends.  Though he was molded he did not have the bitter taste of burns.  His thin and kind face was always filled with a joyful smile.  The brothers and sisters who visited him could hardly believe that the humble and easy-going old man who stood before them was the brave man who used a sharp pen to angrily rebuke the false master, the warrior who battled for the Lord and defended the field of lentils.

 

There were also weak moments in his life and he also had a history that aroused controversies.  Many people do not understand why he would strangely “fast”?  Why did he insist on becoming the life prisoner outside the great walls?

 

Yet, the Lord knew.  He had kept the things that he had received from the Lord, and kept them until the end.  Now, the Lord who loves him has taken him away and allowed him to rest from the earthly labors and sufferings.  He can speak without shame like Paul:

 

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (II Timothy 4:7-8)

 

In the 20th century, God had given us “China’s Daniel” (Wang Mingdao) and “China’s Epaphras” (Wu Weizun).  God’s deeds are indeed great and wondrous!

 

Let us pray and let us wait to see God’s wondrous deeds….

 

References for this essay:

 

1. “Epaphras – An Ordinary Christian on Mainland China”, Wu Weizun’s narration of his life witnessing by the Lord’s grace.  Two volumes, copies, unpublished manuscripts.

 

2. “Epaphras’ 166 Correspondences in the Body of the Lord” [Yibafo Zhunei Jiaotong 166 Pian], copies, unpublished manuscripts.

 

3. Wu Weizun’s letters to his brother Wu Weikan and other family members, November 27 – 30, 2002.

 

4. Website of Tonglu, Zhejiang province, “Tonglu Personalities” column.

 

 

 

This is a True Israelite

 

Pan Yiyuan

 

In the morning of December 21, 2002, Jesus Christ’s faithful witness Epaphras (this is the faith name that Wu Weizun’s mother gave him) has already been taken away by the Lord who loves him.

 

Approximately one week before the spring festival in 1994, I was arrested by the Zhangzhou City Public Security Bureau with the charge of “engaging in underground church activities” (the official term of arrest was detained for investigation [shourong shengcha]).  After Epaphras heard about the situation, he immediately asked someone to deliver a note to my elderly mother and told her: This is a suffering that is permitted by God, which is also a grace and blessing granted by Him.  Not only must we not escape it, we should also not refuse it and not complain about it.  In addition, we must not frantically seek liberation.  Even more so, we cannot seek the backdoor to find connections.  Instead, we should give thanks and give praise and wait for the Lord’s mercy.  There were many Christians who, in order to reduce the unavoidable pain and torture, fell into someone else’s trap and become others’ prisoners, and performed deeds that offended God, hurt people, and humiliated themselves.

 

At the time when I went to prison, my elderly mother had already contacted a group of brothers and sisters who loved the Lord to form a prayer network that would pray days and nights for my release.  After she received Epaphras’ letter, she immediately changed the prayer focus on asking the Lord to give me strength and to stand firm as a Christian, and to not do anything that would harm brothers and sisters and cause the Lord to grieve.

 

Although my mother did not know much about Epaphras’ experiences, she knew from my lips that Epaphras was an obedient, absolute, and simple man who feared God and was absolutely faithful to Him.  He listened completely to anything that the Lord has said and carried them out completely.

 

On December 21, 1994, I was released on bail.  After I left prison, I immediately sent a note to Epaphras about the joyful event.  Yet, Epaphras’ reply was extremely harsh: Brother Pan, for many years, people who were arrested for the name of the Lord have been imprisoned for many years and endured all kinds of humiliation before they were released.  Yet, you left prison after a brief 10 and half months in jail.  Did you make any compromises that damaged the Lord’s name while in prison?  Or did you agree to some conditions set by the public security organs?  Or did you subtly admit your so-called “crimes”?  Or did you change your position and became “Judah”?  Please tell me the truth.  These words, while tender, did not leave me any face.  Put plainly, the question was: “If you have committed any sins, tell them truthfully.”

 

Epaphras’ letter caused me to think of the Lord’s assessment of Nathanael: “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” (John 1:47)  At that time, the Lord not only did not become angry with the rude Nathanael, He actually praised him because “there is nothing false” in him.

 

What else could I say when confronted with Epaphras’ honest, upright, good, and direct questions?  I said to him directly: Lord Jesus’ praise for Nathanael was His praise for you.  The church lacks someone like you.  If there were more people like you, many hidden things in the church would be difficult to conceal.

 

Therefore, I reported to him without reservation the general process during the time between my imprisonment and release.  I began with the account of how my elderly great uncle was agitated about my imprisonment.  One of his former students, Mr. Li Shangda who is now a billionaire in Indonesia, had visited him and saw his sad countenance.  Mr. Li asked my great uncle why he was so grieved?  The great uncle told him about the imprisonment of his great nephew (which was me).  After Mr. Li Shangda heard the story, he volunteered to write Mr. Jia Qingling, who was then the provincial party secretary of Fujian.  (After the 16th Party Congress, Mr. Jia was elevated to the position of membership in the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee Politburo Standing Committee.)  Mr. Li asked Mr. Jia to refrain from conducting the willful arrests of Christians during the era of reform and opening, so as to avoid frustrating the great hope that the overseas Chinese have for the construction of the motherland….

 

After this letter was sent, it appeared to have been lost in the sea of documents.  Jia Qingling did not respond and the public security bureau did not release me.  Mr. Li Shangda, as a leader of the overseas Chinese in Indonesia, then invited Mr. Jia Qingling to visit Indonesia.  He even spoke at the welcoming dinner in Jakarta that featured dozens of overseas Chinese leaders.  In front of numerous people, Mr. Li once again appealed to Jia Qingling that the government’s willful arrest of Christians could create negative impact among the overseas Chinese.  During the dinner, one self-proclaimed “Christian,” in order to seek Mr. Jia Qingling’s favor, spoke: “The Communist Party would never randomly arrest Christians.  There must be other reasons that accounted for the imprisonment of Pan Yiyuan.”  Mr. Li immediately produced a photocopy of the “detention certificate” of the Zhangzhou city public security bureau for all to see.  He subsequently scolded the “Christian”: The Communist Party said that Pan Yiyuan “engaged in underground church activities,” and yet you said no.  Are you even more leftist than the Communist Party or have even more knowledge about the inside story?  Then I would ask you to “reveal” the other factors behind the Pan Yiyuan case!”

 

Mr. Jia Qingling saw that the atmosphere had changed and said: “You do not need to argument among yourselves.  I will take care of this case as soon as I return to China.”

 

After I was released, I saw the letter that Mr. Li Shangda wrote to the great uncle.  The letter said: “Jia Qingling carried out his promise.  On the 19th (meaning the 19th of December in 1994), he returned to Fuzhou and the release was made on the 20th (the precise date was the 21st).”  Mr. Li also said, he had already notified his daughter to wire 2,000 renminbi to help in my recovery.

 

Mr. Li Shangda was not a Christian and had never met me.  Yet God wondrously used him to accomplish His will during my suffering.

 

I also honestly confessed times when I did not act at all like a Christian while in prison, which occurred on three occasions.

 

During the first occasion, the public security officials fabricated a story that had no basis in order to support their explanation that there was “evidence” for my crime.  They intended to force me to confess.  I then followed their logic and fabricated an even more ridiculous story.  As the fabricated story involved a brother who had went to the United States, the public security officials used the occasion that the brother went to visit family to try to create divisions between us.  This good brother who had spent 15 years in prison for the Lord right away saw through their scheme.  Not only did he not fall into their trap, he even disclosed their lies. 

 

During the second occasion, they obtained my diary when they raided my home.  They demanded to know what the Arabic numerals in the diary meant.  I honestly told them.  The officer who recorded the statements cried: “lies.”  When he saw his attitude, I smiled and changed my statements: “Oh, those are the secret codes of communication between me and Taiwan’s Jiang Jingguo.”  The section chief named Lu who interrogated me knew that I was merely making fun of that stupid colleague who only knew how scare the common civilians.  He angrily said: “Don’t say anymore, don’t say anymore.”

 

During the third occasion, which was also the last interrogation, the section chief named Lu said to me: “Pan Yiyuan, we treat you well and yet you think we’re easily abused.  You refused to tell us anything.  In reality, all I have to do is to deprive you of sleep for three days and three nights, and then you will tell me everything.”  (He referred to the torture method known as “fatigue bombardment.”)

 

I said: “This is a great method.  After this method, there would be no one who could withstand the pressure.  Every political movement has used this good method, forcing the prisoner to say whatever you want him to say.  I don’t need three days and three nights.  One day and one night will be sufficient.  However, what I say will not be up to you.”

 

Section Chief Lu’s face didn’t look too well.  There were even sounds that resemble the grinding of teeth.  After a long while, he suddenly said: Call your family tomorrow to take you home.  One of his entourage (probably a driver) said with a smiling face: “You’re going to be allowed to go home for Christmas.”  I replied: “I don’t have the habit of celebrating Christmas, but it will do.”

 

That day was the 20th of December, 1994, during the afternoon of the day prior to my release.

 

After I had sent the letter with the above contents to Epaphras, I waited daily for his lecturing.  However, he did not lecture, nor did he criticize.  He only provided the love and comfort that were in Christ. 

 

When I entered the prison, I was resolved to be like Epaphras: no response, no reply, and no defense.  In actuality, I only upheld the principle for three months, and then I changed.  The reason is that I had learned his appearance but I did not learn his obedience and faithfulness to the Lord as well as his kindness.  The result was that I did not even truly learned his outward appearance. 

 

In order to further my education (?), the public security organ continuously withheld my retirement pension for two years and one month.  The withholding continued until my unit’s leader intervened on my behalf.  However, the pension that had been withheld was never compensated.  The “bail period” also continued for many years.  Chinese law clearly stipulated that if there was no indictment, there could be no withholding of income.  In addition, the “bail period” could not exceed a period of one year.  This is what the Chinese often say: “If I say it’s all right, even if it’s not all right, it will still be all right; however, if I say it’s not all right, even if it’s all right, it will still not be all right.”

 

In September 2001, I finally, for the first time and also for the last time, met Epaphras, whom I have thought about for a long time.  Epaphras was not articulate.  He stuttered when spoke.  He was even less articulate than me, who had experienced stroke on four occasions.  However, he unhesitatingly and bravely moved forward for the glory of the Lord.  “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

 

Today, Epaphras is now in the Lord’s embrace.  The Lord has wiped away all of his tears.  I am also raising my head to watch my Lord, that on the day that will not be long in coming, he will receive me to his side and wipe away all of my tears.

 

February 2, 2003

 

Pan Yiyuan     Mainland Chinese Christian

 

 

The Days Spent with the Elderly Brother Wu Weizun

 

Liu Wanxing

 

I lived very close to the Elderly Brother Wu Weizun.  The distance between our residences could be covered in 10 minutes on a bicycle.  Although I had helped him with some things, because he left us suddenly, what remain in my heart are losses and guilt.  I regret that there were too many things that I should have done for him but have in fact done too little.  If he was resurrected and lived in the same place, I would go see him once each day to chat with him so as to alleviate his loneliness.  It would have been just as well if I just went to help him prepare some coal and repair his bicycle.

 

Most of what I have said to the brothers and sisters who live far away were things that I have seen with my own eyes and what I have heard from him.  I will not speak on things that he had already written in his autobiography.  I maintain the attitude of one who is counting the treasures in his home, not wanting to miss one item.  I am willing to present all of these things before the entire body of Christ.

 

Before 1987 the brothers and sisters in China’s Yinchuan City did not even know that there was a warrior who had been fighting for the Lord in our midst.  How did we come to know him?  It was because the prison cadre (Yinchu Prison was also called the Wind Generator Factory because it produced electrical generators) who was in charge of Brother Wu Weizun (hereby referred to as Brother Wu) came to our church (the present-day Yinchuan TSPM Church) to introduce him.  “Our factory has recently released a prisoner who has completed his sentence.  He is also advanced in age.  He does not want to return to his former home.  He also shares your faith.  You should go try to convince him to return to his home.”  This was how we came to know Brother Wu.

 

Through the communication within the body and the essays that Brother Wu had written in the Correspondence in the Body of Christ, he became known by more and more members of the body.  There is a faithful servant of the Lord in China’s Yinchuan city.  His experience on the path to the cross was extraordinary.

 

Brother Wu did not write again for a long time after he completed his last essay for the Correspondence in the Body of Christ.  After he wrote his last letter home on November 30, 2002 (he gave a copy and a copy to my oldest son, who had often visited his Uncle Wu during this past year), in a brief 20 days, the Lord took him home.  During the time that he stopped writing the essays, he said to me on numerous occasions: “The Lord has not moved me to write anything in recent days.  Without his inspiration, I can write nothing.  The Lord has moved me to find all the essays I wrote in the past and arrange them in preparation for systematic copying.”

 

This “systematic and complete” copying effort, which is also the last copying work, gave him tremendous pressure.  He divided the 166 essays into three categories: (A) before and after his prison release; (B) Biblical truths (two volumes); and (C) the church and the political authority (two volumes), and made five founded books.  No more than 20 copies were made at any time (each copy weighed 2.4 kilogram).  His house did not have enough space for more copies.  He said: “The house is filled with them.  May the Lord ensure that the public security officials would not come.  If they did, the loss will be great.  Each set of 20 copies values at 7,000 RMB.” 

 

During the time that he was engaged in the work, one evening after rainfall, when there was no pedestrian on the road, he used his bicycle to carry the copied essays home.  When he was not too far from home, his two legs slid into the mud in the ditch on the side of the road and he became stuck.  With no assistance, he would have to wait until the next morning.  The Lord sent his neighbors to pull him out.  Fortunately the bicycle did not slide into the ditch.  Brother Wu had planned to leave the house early to make copies so that he could return home early.  However, because the road was difficult to traverse after the rain and because the printing press had made some errors, he was delayed in his return home.  However, protection came with danger.

 

The envelopes that Brother Wu used were all self-made.  His envelopes were truly centered.  Even the corners were symmetrical.  I told him not to waste his time on this work.  One could still send letters in slightly off-centered envelopes.  He said: “Indeed, I do things slowly.”  I work fast, but without the centeredness that Brother Wu has demonstrated.  Brother Wu was just this type of person.  Whether as a person or as a worker, everything for him had to be done correctly and neatly.  He would never take anything lightly.  He always tried to be thrifty.  I now remember that when I first knew him, he would sharpen his already worn pencil head over and over again to write the essays.  Later, he became increasingly occupied with replying to others’ correspondence to him, which took a lot of time.  However, the provisions made by the body also became increasingly abundant, so that he ceased producing his own envelopes.

 

Brother Wu was as innocent and honest as a child – there was no deception in him.  After his correspondence list was first taken by those people, he could not continue the correspondence, so he just started to accumulate the list again.  Someone told him to put such a piece of page in a place that other people would not be willing to examine.  He responded by placing it in a stack of old newspapers, which was truly secure.  There was one time when he was writing letters.  The correspondence list was on the table.  Someone yelled outside the door.  Unfortunately, the persons who walked in were not fellow Christians but those people (editor’s note: public security officials).  They forced their way into the house and once again took away the correspondence list.  Some people later told him that when encountering similar incidents in the future, you ought to secure the correspondence list and the letters before opening the door.  On another day, those people came again.  They placed the confiscated books on Brother Wu’s desk.  Suddenly, those people went into the courtyard.  Taking advantage of this opportunity, Brother Wu placed a Bible he was reading in the drawer.  This time, it worked.  He was able to use craftiness to keep a Bible.  Later, Brother Wu was able to learn some skills from his losses, including hiding those easily confiscated materials behind the stacks of disorganized heaps.  It turns out that prior to these incidents Brother Wu never hid anything, and those people understood his ways.

 

If you have read his essays in the “Correspondence in the Body of the Lord,” particularly those criticisms of the false prophets, you will notice the sharpness of his pen and the comprehensiveness of his critique, such that there was no place for the false prophet to hide.  Yet, if you then go visit the author of those essays, you would not believe that these harsh essays were written by this person, who carried a thin and sallow countenance, wore a pair of glasses and a set of clothing that was not properly fitted.  The clothing even had patches.  No one would believe that these essays came from his pens.

 

There is a phenomenon that we observed in the printed versions of Brother Wu’s essays, which was that his essays were always written on one full page.  Why the coincidence?  This was not a coincidence; rather, it was the result of his careful effort to reduce expenditures.  After he completed the articles, he would count the number of words, then calculate the number of lines needed, how many words were on each line, and how large should the font for each word be.  Then he would place these articles onto the pages.  He shared with me one coincidence.  One time, as he was about to copy his completed essays using the Fangsongti font (Note: A Chinese print font), he felt that there was one paragraph that was unsatisfactory and decided to rewrite the section.  After he completed the rewrite, he counted the number of words.  What a coincidence!  The number of words after the rewrite was the same as the previous count.  There was no need to make the calculations about the number of lines and the number of pages.  He could immediately begin the print work.  Why did Brother Wu want to count?  The reason is that the unit of calculation in the printing industry is the surface of the page.  Regardless of the number of lines or the number of words, even if the page contains only one-half line of words, the cost will still be calculated by page.  Brother Wu’s effort was intended to reduce expenditures.

 

Brother Wu was very afraid of the cold.  During the autumn days, when other Christians visited him, they would see that he had already put on the cotton hat and that the ear coverings attached to the hat would also have been pulled down.  His face was also wrapped up by the hat.  He looked like someone who had just returned from the snowy mountains.  However, his stove for keeping warm was always turned over seven to eight days after others have already turned on theirs.  This was another one of his acts of thriftiness.  I believe that the reasons that Brother Wu was so fearful of the cold were his fasting and the fact that he had caught cold while in prison (in Tianjin). 

 

We saw that the single bed used by Brother Wu was very narrow.  When a person sleeps on it, he could not turn around.  If he tried, he would have fallen onto the floor.  Brother Wu said: “This was the size that I had especially requested.  When I sleep, my body and my head do not turn.  This ability was trained during the time that I was in prison.”  When a number people are on top of a pit, it would be impossible for anyone to turn or move.  You have to remain stationary like a puppet.

 

Brother Wu’s perspective on home security was the antithesis of the perspective held by mankind.  No one has seen locks on his doors.  When he was inside the house, he would lock the doors from the inside.  When he left the house on errands, he would never lock the door to the yard.  He only closed the door to the house.  A door hangar would be on the bedroom door with the note “please leave a message.”  Visitors could also wait for him in the house.  Brother Wu adopted his habit out of fear that brothers and sisters who were visiting from afar would not be able to rest in the house if they saw the locked door.  He did this out of consideration for the brothers and sisters.  He never lost anything.  At times, when a neighborhood child saw visitors to his house, the child would enter the house and tell the guests: “Grandpa Wu went out.”  He would leave after giving the explanation.

 

Brother Wu often said: “The work that the Lord gave me was to witness like an ordinary Christian.”  It seemed simple and ordinary when first hearing these words.  However, at that time, his work actually led him to prison and was tortured, nearly to the point of death.  The Brother’s courage to insist on his refusal to worship the idol (the statue of Mao) has resulted in him suffering unknown number of acts of torture.  In order to uphold the testimony of saying grace before meals, we can hardly know how many times Brother Wu had to endure the lack of meals.  In addition to denying him food, the prison authorities even forced him to conduct the same amount of labor as the other prisoners, such that the combination of hunger and fatigue had led him to fall into comas.  At times, they would refuse to give him food so that he was on the edge of starving to death (human beings can die at any time if denied food and drinks for seven days).  They then force fed him, leading him to vomit after the forced feeding.  The prison police then ordered Brother Wu to eat the things he had vomited, and he complied.  Brother Wu was this kind of person.  In order to obey the Lord’s commands, he was unafraid of paying any price.  He would not concede the slightest to sin.

 

Once, I asked Brother Wu: “What was the one torture you were least willing to face before you were imprisoned?”  He said: “I least wanted to face hunger.  Yet, the result was just that.  After I was imprisoned, they used hunger to torture my will and tried to cause me to surrender.”  I remember Brother Wu had told me that for three years he had used substandard melons and vegetables instead of regular food to satisfy his hunger.  He used his own rice and flour to exchange for coarse foods so that he could get more foods so as to allow his stomach to get a sense of fullness.  He was a guy who could eat a lot.  He was also not finicky (he didn’t care too much for the taste, as long as the food filled him).  The food that he ate after he was released remained food that ordinary people could not take in.  He would cook the cereal, vegetable, eggs, and meat separately.  Then he would mix them together in a large basin.  After the food cooled, he would divide them into portions.  Each portion would be consumed at each meal.  Since he fasted on a regular basis, it was not appropriate for him to be too full.  Therefore, he would stop eating after his stomach had a sense of fullness.  When he wanted to eat again, he would then eat another portion.  He took his food by days and not by meals.  He would stop eating and drinking after 24 hours.  He never ate hot food.  Even during winter he ate cold food.  This habit was also developed during his time in prison.

 

Brother Wu had told us about the story of the large tiger and the small tiger.  An experienced public security cadre once said to this uncompromising man: “You are indeed like a newly-born calf that is not afraid of the tiger.  Do you know how many pastors and preachers had surrendered during my watch?  Why don’t you think about it.”  (The public security cadre meant that he had means to make people fall on their knees.)  Brother Wu said: “After that public security cadre finished his words, God told me the story of the large tiger and the small tiger.”  God said: “I am the large tiger and the regime is the small tiger.  When the requirements of the small tiger do not disobey the large tiger, you can comply with both the large tiger and the small tiger.  When the small tiger’s requirements contradict the requirements of the large tiger, you must adhere to the large tiger and not the small tiger.”  The Bible was said that it is right to obey God and not man.  Throughout the Chinese and non-Chinese histories, on the many occasions when Christians were persecuted, shed blood, and sacrificed their lives, the events were exactly caused by the Christians’ decision to obey God and not man.

 

In his dealings with the brothers and the sisters, Brother Wu had also erected great standards of right and wrong.  He did not always get along with people.  He had heard that a certain “sister” had become a member of the Eastern Lightening.  He immediately looked for that “sister” to inquire about the rumor.  That “sister” lied that others had falsely accused her.  Brother Wu believed her.  Later, that woman who had joined the Eastern Lightening got another sister to fall into the trap of the Eastern Lightening.  The other sister suffered as a result.  Fortunately, she escaped.  This sister told Brother Wu the truths.  The woman who joined the Eastern Lightening took the initiative to visit Brother Wu.  However, when Brother Wu saw her, he said: “Go.  From now on, I will no longer receive you.”  There was another Brother Pan from the south.  He was entrusted by the Lord to print Bibles during the Cultural Revolution.  He was someone who had already given little thought to life and death (during the Cultural Revolution, death was certain for anyone who was caught printing the Bible).  Although he had never met Brother Wu, they were brothers in Christ who were kindred spirits.  The day that Brother Pan was imprisoned finally came.  His stay in prison was a few days shy of a year.  Brother Wu heard that Brother Pan was released after only a year of imprisonment.  He thought something was fishy, so he directly wrote to Brother Pan: “Why is it that your time in prison was so short?  Did you cooperate with the authorities?”  Because of Brother Wu’s frankness and lack of pretentiousness, Brother Pan knew that he was a good brother.

 

Brother Wu’s replies to correspondences from other brothers and sisters were a great deal of work.  Many brothers and sisters from afar wanted to correspond with him and they could only use letters to do so.  No matter how busy he was, as long as brothers and sisters visited him, he would immediately set aside the tasks in his hands, tell you to sit on his bed, move a square stool to sit opposite you, and quietly listened to you speak.  He would never disrupt someone else’s talks.  After the other person had finished what they wanted to say, then he would say what he should say, so that the others might derive some benefits from the exchanges.  On separate occasions, there were times when guests invited Brother Wu to pray for them.  You can tell that Brother Wu was not an eloquent man.  He was not particularly sharp.  He was unable to speak his words without pauses.  Once you read his essays, then listen to his prayers, you may be mistaken that they were not from the same Brother Wu.  After the guests departed, and he would see them out, smiled and waved at them.  He didn’t immediately turn around to shut the door.  He would return to the door only after the guests had gone a distance from his home.  The brothers and the sisters were his guests.  There were times when one set of guests had yet to leave that another set of guests arrived.

 

During the 15 years between his release from prison and the day he was raised to Heaven, Brother Wu only rode two bicycles.  The first one was a large model 28 bicycle.  When I first met him, he was riding this old bike.  He rode it until the bike could no longer be repaired.  Then he sold it to the man who was collecting junks.  Brother Wu looked at his broken bike and said to me: “Ah, it has accompanied me for many years.  I will miss it.  We’ve developed feelings for each other.”  I replied: “I also have this strange feeling.”  The second bicycle he rode was a fake Everlasting brand model 26 bicycle.  Since he did not ride it for very long, the metallic parts were all rusted.  When he was taken to Heaven, his bicycle remained in the customary place, as if it was still waiting for its master to ride it to the post office for mail deliveries, to the printing plant, to the train station, to the bank, and to the generator plant, or the homes of brothers and sisters.  Ah!  This will no longer be.  “Bike, your master was too busy.  He had no time to wash your body.  Therefore, you are filled with mud and your appearance has completely changed.  You had accompanied your master to crash into the electrical wire poles on the side of the street during the nights.  You were also crashed by other bikes, with you falling along with your master.  Your master’s leg was bruised and his fingers also bled.  Although the situation was so serious, you would never have seen your master becoming angry with the other party.  The God of your master protected him; He also protected you.”

 

As I think back, during the last year, Brother Wu was truly unlike his old self.  When he rode the bicycle, he would uncontrollably lean to the car path.  During the last phase of his life, the speed with which he rode the bike also decreased.  Three years ago, he rode even faster than I did.

 

By God’s grace, Brother Wu’s important belongings were recovered although they were lost on two occasions.  He had a strange habit.  He loved to wrap his household registration booklet, identification certificate, food rationing coupons, and various documents and coupons in one package.  He would carry the package wherever he went.  I said to him: “It’s probably not necessary to carry these things around all the time.”  He said: “You can never be sure when they may become useful.”  He never changed this habit.  In fact, it is precisely because the household registration booklet was in his package that those who found the package were able to return it to him.  The first time he lost the package was when he went out to purchase a smoking pipe.  He left the package at the door to the shop.  Since his package did not have an attractive appearance, it did not raise many people’s eyebrows.  In fact, some people might have mistaken the package to be something left by the beggars.  For this reason, after a day and a night, no one picked it up.  The next day, a female laborer who was cleaning the streets were prepared to dump this package into the trash can along with the other pieces of trash.  However, she felt its weightiness on her hands.  When she opened the package, she discovered documentations such as the household registration booklet.  Therefore, she found him through the household registration booklet.  When he lost these documentations and coupons, he was very anxious, so he prayed to the Lord and felt peace in his heart.  Therefore, the female laborer was able to find her on the next day.  The second time he lost the package occurred when he was visiting me.  He had expected to say a few words and leave.  However, it took a little longer time that he had expected.  When he went downstairs, he did not see the package.  This time, the package was not lost; it was stolen.  Christians should not be suspicious of others.  However, based on my calculation, I still went down to the trash station early every morning to check whether the package was there.  I considered the possibility that the thief would throw the package into the trash heap from the top floors down to the bottom floor.  However, nothing was found for three consecutive days.  On the fourth day, I woke up late and the trash had been taken away.  I thought to myself, this is bad.  I became anxious.  Thanks the Lord, He again provided.  The thiefs made up a lie to conceal their action.  They found Brother Wu through the generator plant.  Brother Wu still thanked him by giving them gifts.

 

Before his release from prison, Brother Wu had served as an instructor in the prison school.  Among his belongings that were left behind was a leather-bounded notebook.  When you open it, it contained the rewards that Brother Wu had received.  On the top it was written: Wu Weizun in 1985 was rated a good instructor in the cultural and technological school.  On the bottom of the page was printed the Education Section of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Prison.  The stamp was round.  The prison cadres knew that he was secondary school instructor.  Once, a cadre went to him to ask that he tutor his daughter on third-year high school mathematics and physics because she had failed in her university examination.  Brother Wu expressed hesitancy (because he was busy).  The cadre said: “Elder Wu, I came today to beg you, not to order you.”  When Brother Wu heard that the cadre had come to beg him, he readily agreed.  Brother Wu first reviewed the materials.  Later, he taught her.  The next year, Brother Wu said to me: “That girl is very bright.  She has successfully passed the university examination.”

 

It is impossible, even with thousands of words and expressions, to fully describe any aspect of our reverent Brother Wu’s spiritual life.  We invite the brothers and sisters outside China to read the autobiography of this spiritual giant and the 166 topical essays that he wrote.  Then, we will know a little more about what it means to witness for the Lord, what is spiritual warfare, what is the watcher, what is a good instructor and good friend, what it means to carry the Cross to follow the Lord, what is obedience, what is to love one’s brothers, and what it means to defend the truth.

 

He is a model worthy of our emulation.  He was a warrior in the spiritual war.  He was a good teacher and a fine friend.  He was an alert watcher.  Whenever confusion and traps appeared, he always wrote to sound the bell for alerting the flock of sheep so that they would not enter into confusion.  He even pointed out the keys to mysteries for Taiwan’s Ko Shiyuan and America’s Billy Graham.  Even more importantly, he vehemently hated the false prophets in today’s China because they dare to speak falsely about the biblical truth in order to adapt to the political requirements.  He is a contemporary spiritual giant (I don’t think that we have gone overboard in giving him this title).  The effects of his correspondences may become even more manifested in the future. 

 

Our beloved Brother Wu Weizun has gone to the Lord’s place.  We are not saddened by this fact because we hope that we will be reunited before the Lord.  We respect him and we miss him.

 

Lastly, let us conclude with the two sentences that Brother Wu often said to the brothers and sisters.

 

First sentence: “It is the Lord’s grace that has sustained me.  Only by His grace am I able to witness in the way that He has instructed me.”

 

Second sentence: “Without the Lord’ touch, I can write nothing.”

 

January 2, 2003

 

 

[1] Translator’s note: Soon after its victory over the Nationalist government, the communist regime established “ United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China ” to oversee the activities of the religious communities.  National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China was the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), headed by Wu Yaozong.  The “three self” stands for self supporting, self perpetuating, and self governing.  The unifying theme is that the Church in China should have no political and economic relationships with their counterparts outside China.