House church leader sentenced to 18 months "re-education through labor"

Monday, August 25, 2003

Washington, DC (VOM) -- The Voice of the Martyrs has learned that house church leader Guoxing (Philip) Xu has been sentenced to 18 months of so-called "re-education through labor" after his arrest for leading a house-church service last month.

Xu was arrested on December 8th when a house church meeting near Shanghai was raided by Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers. Police confiscated a computer and all Christian literature and cassettes in Xu's home, and arrested all 20 believers gathered. Police even confiscated the stools that the group had been sitting on. The 19 others were questioned and released by police, but Xu was held and later sentenced. Chinese citizens can be sentenced to up to three years of laogai, re-education through labor, without formal charges or a trial.

Xu is no stranger to the Chinese PSB. He has previously spent six years at a Chinese labor camp, and has been free only since July, 2000.

"This is a clear violation of Brother Xu's religious freedom," said Gary Lane, a spokesman for The Voice of the Martyrs. "We urge American Christians to pray for this brother, and to call, fax or email the Chinese embassy on his behalf."

Brother Xu studied in the United States in the 1980's, and could have stayed in the US. However, he sensed God's call to return to China and to minister in the unregistered church movement there. His first arrest came in 1989, but the arrest backfired when scores of his fellow prisoners were won to Christ during Xu's three-year sentence.

"Our prayers go out to this dear brother, who is no stranger to suffering for the Gospel," said Lane. "We pray for justice, but even more we pray that God would use Brother Xu while he is in prison. We pray that he will be a minister of God's love and peace to fellow prisoners, and even to prison guards and fellow police."

American Christians wishing to make a polite protest to the Chinese embassy in Washington DC should contact:
Ambassador Yang Jiechi
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington DC 20008
Tel:(202) 328-2500 Fax:(202) 588-0032
Director of Religious Affairs: (202) 328-2512