- The love of Christ and his
sacrifice on the cross, "have
changed me. I was a coward and found courage. If my sacrifice can
stop the storm that is fallin
on Chinese churches and crosses, then it will
not be in vain. I do not seek publicity; I took this
decision because I have no alternatives,"
wrote Zhan Yingsheng, a Christian pastor from the Salvation church in Wenzhou, in a will-like letter sent to China
Aid, which he wrote after he began
a hunger strike inside his church's bell
Before locking himself up (16
July), Zhan resigned from the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the state organisation that brings together China's
The decision to live by "preparing for martyrdom",
which matured during the
demolition campaign against Christian places of worship in Zhejiang province,
was reinforced by
the climate of growing religious
intolerance in the country.
His is not an isolated gesture. In recent days, Catholic seminarians in Beijing have decided
not to pick up their diploma at the end of the year in order not to
be forced to attend
Mass together with unlawful
bishops, ordained without papal consent.
Similarly, for more than two years,
auxiliary bishop of Shanghai, Mgr Thaddeus Ma Daqin, has lived
as a recluse in Sheshan
seminary after he resigned from the Patriotic Association
and publicly declared
his loyalty to the Holy See.
Below is the full text of Rev
My name is Zhan Yingsheng, and I am
a man of Han ethnicity. I was born on June 16, 1971. I'm a Christian and a
student majoring in the Bible at Zhejiang Theological Seminary. The following
was written when I was very clear-minded. When you read it, you are lucky to be
one of the witnesses.
First of all, I would like to
declare that what I'm doing now is not for making a show or trying to get some
publicity. Instead, I'm doing so because there is no other alternative.
However, for my friends and relatives, please be assured that due to my
Christian belief, I won't choose suicide. If on one of these days you hear that
I've been called to heaven, that probably means I'm lucky enough to have joined
the ranks of martyrs (Jesus' apostle Paul reminds us that being with Christ is
The most important reason for this
is that I've seen brothers and sisters of churches in various parts of Zhejiang
province [grow] panicky amidst the storm of illegal demolition of crosses by
some government agencies. To hold onto their faith, brothers and sisters guard
their crosses, which are not illegal structures. They have been guarding the
crosses for more than 20 days in various churches and for some, it's already
[been] more than a month. Many brothers and sisters work in large businesses,
real estate and some of them make a living by keeping a small store, and they
are guarding the crosses in spite of the blatant threats coming from the
In China, the country that is
supposed to be under the rule of law, some government officials put their will
above the law. In the meantime, their subordinates, in order to get promoted
for their "performance," disregard the law and the disciplines, and trample on
the faith of the Christians. They compete with each other in the number and
speed of demolitions so that they can win prizes. Whenever I see this, my heart
bleeds. That's why I've decided today to go live in the clock tower under the
cross of the church to pray and to fast with my Bible and hymns.
The county government has the
primary goal of demolishing, through force, the Salvation Church. They have
given their threats to the church's co-workers through various levels and
departments. If we guard against the demolition with all our efforts, the
eventual result will be even worse than Sanjiang Church (I understand very well
that if [the officials] don't do this, their positions would be jeopardized).
Facing such a powerful foe, neither the co-workers nor I have particular
confidence that we can certainly prevent the church's cross from being
As an individual, I implore the Lord
to give me the will of a martyr. I will need it especially during the
demolition of our church's cross. I don't mean I would like to become a martyr
for a 6-ton cross. Instead, as a Christian facing unrighteousness, my
conscience urges me to do my duty. I wish to better understand the meaning of
"Christ calling on me to die for Him." If the martyrdom or tribulation of some
Christians can make the storm of this demolition campaign quiet down and the
spirit of rule of law come true in the various fields of our country, may the
Lord support me solidly!
It is indeed very difficult to
choose. First of all, I think of my wife who led me into believing the Lord. In
that same year, I got to know her and dedicated myself to the Lord-1992.
Twenty-two years have passed in the twinkling of an eye. Besides the Lord Jesus
who died on the cross for me, the person whom I owe the most is she. Together,
the two of us worked hard, and we finally had a home at 152 N. Shanglin Road
that we still have now. Together, we raised a daughter, who is now in her
second year in high school. Originally, both of us were engaged in the apparel
business. In 2005, God moved me and called on me to serve full time in Shuitou
Salvation Church. Starting from 2007, I began to equip myself and most of the
time I studied everywhere and all the household work was done by her.
My dear, if I go and leave you,
you'll have to raise our daughter yourself. If God prepares for you a husband
in Christ, remember you must obey Him and live a good life by relying on the
Lord. My mom and dad are yet Christians, and they are my biggest burdens. After
I graduated from high school, I was away from home for many years and didn't do
my filial duty for them. I'd like you to visit them from time to time when you
have time after praying.
Yilin, as it was my first time to be
a father, I didn't have much experience. While you were growing up, I failed to
give enough much time to guiding you. Though it was out of love for you that I
disciplined you, I didn't have the correct methods. And sometimes, I beat and
scolded you out of anger. You must be hurt at heart. I hope you can gradually
understand me. My dear child, given the present condition, you should study
hard at your age so that you can stand a better chance in finding a foothold in
society and you would have better chances in testifying for Jesus. If I can no
longer give you a lecture in the future, please remember self-discipline. Life
is very hard for Mom, and your emotional intelligence should be very high. I
believe you will do your filial duties well as I have trust in you. Don't
complain about God. He is ready to help you, and you should remember to look
for His help whenever you need Him.
Dear co-workers, in the midst of
current bad circumstances, remember you must be united in God as one, love each
other, and help the vulnerable groups. Don't fall into the scheme of the devil
by attacking each other. Instead, try to forgive each other and understand each
other in the love of the cross (This love is way above what we can understand
under usual circumstances).
Dear relatives and friends, thank
God that all of you are in my life; you have brought so many beautiful things
to my otherwise insipid and stale life. Moved by the Lord, I began writing
yesterday afternoon. As I've been writing until now, I'm already dead. Those
relatives and friends who know me well know that I am a man afraid of death,
and I lived in cowardice and am without my own opinions. Though "the most
difficult thing in life is death," the love flowing from the blood on Jesus'
cross is stronger than death. Thank the Lord for strengthening me with this
love! I hope that in the kingdom of glory, I will be able to see every one of
you. Remember that Jesus loves you as well as me. May God give blessings to
everyone of you!
God's futile servant: Zhan Yingsheng
Finished writing in Salvation
Church, 17 July, 2014