The prison locations of two Christians jailed in China have been identified after a three-year search. One persecution support organization is urging Korean Christians to send letters of encouragement to the prisoners as soon as possible.
According to Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, Ms. Ju Dianhong and Ms. Liang Qin were sentenced in December 2017 in Yunnan Province for allegedly leading an “evil cult”. “The original verdict claimed that Ms. Ju was the leader of the ‘Three Grades of Servants’ cult and Ms. Liang was her assistant,” says Representative Foley. “They were accused of organizing secret meetings, spreading doomsday predictions, and building a secret organization. Ms. Ju was sentenced to 13 years in prison, and Ms. Liang was sentenced to 10. The case received international attention because both women strongly denied having any knowledge of or involvement in the ‘Three Grades of Servants’ cult, and very common, ordinary Christian books like ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ and ‘Streams in the Desert’ were shown as evidence of the women’s ‘cult’ involvement.”
Representative Foley says that the Yunnan provincial government authorized a campaign to suppress the “Three Grades of Servants” group in March 2016, but dozens of Christians unaffiliated with the group were also detained and sentenced.
At her trial, Ms. Ju testified, “I only believed in and preached about Jesus, never harming anyone or acting contrary to biblical principles.” Ms. Liang testified, “I do not know what that cult is, and I do not know or participate in the Three Grades of Servants faction. I believe in Jesus. I did not cause any harm to the community and did nothing that would constitute a crime.”
Representative Foley says that Ms. Ju and Ms. Liang immediately appealed the verdicts. However, after their sentencing in December 2017, China Communist Party authorities did not reveal where the women were imprisoned. Representative Foley says that Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s China partners made inquiries to many public officials since then, and through this process the location of the women was identified.
Ju Dianhong, one of two Christian women currently being held in prison in Kunming City, China for allegedly leading a cult. (No photo is available for Ms. Liang Qin, the other prisoner.) Both women strongly deny the charge.
“Now after three years of inquiries by our China partners, we have discovered that the women are at the “No. 1 Prison for Women of Yunnan Province” in Kunming City,” says Representative Foley. “We have posted the full prison address on our website, along with many Chinese language scriptures and encouraging phrases that anyone can print out, cut, and paste on a card or letter to send to these sisters.” Representative Foley notes that Coronavirus regulations currently permit mail to be sent from Korea to China, and that the women can be expected to receive the cards and letters that are sent to the prison.
“Praying for Christians in prison is of course very important. But when they receive cards and letters from Christians around the world confirming those prayers, it is more amazing to them than we can imagine,” says Representative Foley. “For example, we know one former Christian prisoner in China for whom Voice of the Martyrs previously organized a global letter writing campaign. Even though he was released from prison more than 10 years ago, to this day he keeps the letters he received. They are his greatest treasure.”
Representative Foley believes the letters may positively impact the treatment of prisoners by reminding their captors that people around the world are watching. “In the last few months alone, two Christian prisoners in Eritrea and one in Pakistan who were on our letter-writing list for years were finally released. It’s impossible to know whether the letters played a role in that, but we know from many Christian prisoners that their prison guards frequently are astonished that they are receiving mail from around the world. It’s not only an encouragement to the prisoner but also a good evangelism opportunity when prison guards see that Christians are one body in Christ.”
Individuals interested in writing a letter of encouragement to Ms. Ju, Ms. Liang, and other Christian prisoners can visit https://vomkorea.com/en/prisoner-profiles/ .