Dr. Xu Yonghai, an evangelical Christian psychiatrist, was arrested in Beijing last Nov. 9. Police accused him being linked to the 43 year-old Liu Fenggang, the head of an underground house Church detained in prison since Oct. 13. Liu Fenggang was arrested in Hangzhou while visiting leaders of some house churches, which were found to be destroyed. He has been accused of spreading information of their destruction, which was considered a "state secret". According to Hong Kong's Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, at least ten house churches have been destroyed by police since July. A total of 392 churches and temples of other religions have been either destroyed or reused as "entertainment centers". The Chinese government permits worship only in official locales registered and controlled by the Office of Religious Affairs.
At the end of November Xu Yonghai was transferred to Xiaoshan (Zhejiang), where is now detained. Xu's wife has written an open letter to Christians around the world so that they pray for her husband and demand his liberation.
Below is the letter's text, sent to AsiaNews by China Aid Association a Protestant organization battling for religious freedom in China.
"Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
My husband, Dr. Xu Yonghai, is a Christian believer. He is a graduate of the Beijing University Medical School and a doctor at the Pingan Hospital. He has been a Christian for many years. Since the day I met him and until the day he was arrested, he has been spreading the gospel. In addition his professional job as a doctor, he dedicated all his time to the Lord. He shares the gospel with everyone he meets and has dedicated his only home (only 10 square metres) as a house church. By God's grace, many people have come to know their faith in that house.
Every Sunday, brothers and sisters gathered together in that house, praying, singing and studying the bible. To prepare for those meetings, my husband read the bible and studied even after he returned early on Sunday morning from his Saturday night shift without taking any rest. Even in the midst of persecutions, he has always trusted Christ and our meetings continued until the government violently destroyed our house.
My husband is a good believer and a good doctor. He has been able to bring the love of Christ our Lord to everyone he met. He cares very much about everyone and is always busy interacting with ordinary people. Their problems became his problems. He was raised in an ordinary family and always dedicated himself in service of others. Wherever there was injustice, you could find his shadow. He is an exemplary social activist.
His arrest today is a great irony to social injustice. I am convinced that my husband is innocent and maintain he has committed no crime. I beg the Chinese government to release my husband. I plead with my brothers and sisters in the Lord to pray for their brother Xu. Pray so that the Lord will protect him in peace. Pray so that he will return back home peacefully as soon as possible."
( Mrs. Emmanuel Li Shanna's signature follows together with the names of 53 other Christians).
*The photo portrays Dr. Xu and his wife in front of their destroyed home.