A well-known Chinese house-church leader has been released after protests from Western organizations.
Zhao Wenquan was let go Tuesday, suffering only “minor beatings,” after his arrest May 9 in Hegou Town in Anhui province, reports the U.S. based Christian group Voice of the Martyrs, or VOM.
According to VOM sources in China, members of Zhao’s group expressed thanks for international prayer and protest after his arrest.
“People sometimes ask us, ‘Can I really make a difference?’” said Todd Nettleton, VOM spokesman. “This case shows that we can make a difference for our brothers and sisters in China.”
Zhao was arrested when police raided a group of more than 4,000 Christians gathered for a special harvest celebration.
He originally was charged with “disturbing the social order” and organizing an “illegal religious gathering,” VOM sources said. But it appears his 14-day “administrative detention” will be the only punishment for his involvement in the gathering.
Zhao, more than 60 years old, has been working in China’s unregistered churches for more than 30 years.
About a dozen other church leaders who escaped arrest on the day of the celebration are still on the run, VOM said.
The news comes amid a report by a Chinese website that Premier Wen Jiabao has issued a new national directive to crack down on house churches.
At a Communist Party “provincial religious working conference” in southern Guangdong province last week, a report was issued calling on every level of government to work together “to subdue the penetration of antagonistic overseas forces in the name of religion.”
As WND reported in April, another Christian pastor imprisoned by the Chinese government feared if he would die because of injuries suffered while in custody.
In another case reported by WND, a church leader imprisoned in China was crippled by a severe beating because he had led 50 fellow inmates to the Christian faith.
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