A Chinese Christian writer and church historian who documented persecution in the communist country was released from prison labor camp after authorities acknowledged his case had become known internationally.
Zhang Yi-nan – who suffered two years of “re-education through labor” – was escorted Sunday out of Ping Ding Shan City Bailou Labor Camp in Henan Province by 10 policemen, reported the U.S.-based monitor Voice of the Martyrs
Authorities told Zhang he would have received a much longer sentence for his “crimes” if not for international exposure.
Zhang was featured on VOM’s website prisoneralert.com, where more than 2,700 people composed and printed letters of encouragement to send to him in prison.
Although he has been released, Zhang expects Public Security Bureau officers will follow him and monitor his activities, VOM said.
Zhang’s wife, Ding Guizhen, and son, Zhang Kairi, were waiting for him at the steel gate of the prison camp but were not immediately allowed to welcome him home.
Instead of going home, authorities first took him to the Lushan County Police Station, where he was instructed about what he should say and do following his release.
Police reportedly told him he was “very defiant,” because he wouldn’t admit his “mistakes” – choosing to be a Christian and part of an unregistered house church.
He finally was allowed to go home with his wife and son in the early afternoon.
When he arrived home, one of his first activities was to watch the video documentary “The Cross: Jesus in China.”
“Compared to the testimony of Pastor Allen Yuan and Wang Mingdao, my suffering is nothing,” Zhang said. “Both of them were imprisoned for about 20 years for the sake of the gospel. I am just so privileged to taste a little bit of the Lord’s cross.”
Zhang was arrested with Xiao Bi-guang Sept. 26, 2003, and charged with “subverting the Chinese government and socialist order.”
Xiao was released six weeks later. At the time, a source inside the Beijing PSB told VOM contacts, “Zhang doesn’t have a criminal problem. He has a mind problem. He is too superstitious.”
Through VOM contacts, Zhang expressed thankfulness to all who prayed for him during his incarceration and lobbied the Chinese government on his behalf.
He also asked for prayer for two other Christians still held at the labor camp.
“Because of your prayers and God’s mercy, I could come out of the prison without any resentment or hatred toward the Chinese authorities,” Zhang said, “In fact, I have more compassion for those who do not know the love of God.”