September 26, 2005 (Voice of the Martyrs) -- Chinese Christian Zhang Yi-nan was released from the Ping Ding Shan City Bailou Labor Camp in Henan Province, China on Sunday morning. Zhang’s wife, Ding Guizhen, and their son, Zhang Kairi, were waiting for him at the steel gate of the prison camp, but were not immediately allowed to welcome him home.
Zhang had completed two years of laojiao—“re-education through labor”—before being escorted out of the camp by ten policemen. Instead of being taken immediately home, he was first taken to the Lushan County Police Station, where he was “instructed” about what he should not tell or do following his release. Police reportedly told him that he was “very defiant,” because he wouldn’t admit his “mistakes”—choosing to be a Christian and to be a part of an unregistered house church.
He was finally 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 along with Xiao Bi-guang on September 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 that, “Zhang doesn’t have a criminal problem. He has a mind problem. He is too superstitious.”
Through VOM contacts, Zhang passed on his thankfulness to all those who had prayed for him during his incarceration, and lobbied the Chinese government on his behalf. He also asked for prayer for two other Christian brothers still being held at the labor camp.
“Because of your prayers and God's mercy,” Zhang said, “I could come out of the prison without any resentment or hatred toward the Chinese authorities. In fact, I have more compassion for those who do not know the love of God.”
Zhang was a writer and Chinese church historian, and before going to prison he had interviewed countless Chinese Christians to document their stories of suffering and persecution, and God’s faithfulness during those times of hardship.
“We praise God for sustaining this faithful servant during two years of difficult labor,” said Todd Nettleton, spokesman for The Voice of the Martyrs. “We also thank all those who prayed for him and wrote letters on his behalf.”
Zhang was featured on the WBobeb site www.prisoneralert.com, where more than 2,700 people composed and printed letters of encouragement to send to him in prison. Authorities told Zhang that he should have received a much longer sentence for his “crimes,” but because his case became known internationally he was given only two years in the labor camp.
Even though he has been released, he expects that Public Security Bureau officers will follow him and monitor his activities.