Escaped Persecuted Church Leader from China Denied Refugee Status in Thailand by UN
Posted by radiofreechina on March 2, 2007
China Aid Association Appeals for International Intervention
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
BANGKOK, THAILAND (ANS) — A “severely persecuted” house church leader from Xi’an, Shangxi province in China has been denied protection by the United Nations High Commissioner Office in Thailand.
According to China Aid Association (CAA), Elder Lei Wensen and his family members were severely persecuted by the Chinese security apparatus for their leadership in the house church movement in China.
CAA president Bob Fu said that he received a letter from Elder Lei Wensen asking for help on January 26, 2007.
In it, Elder Lei wrote: “Dear Pastor Bob Fu: My name is Lei Wensen, my wife is Zhang Lingyan, and my son is Lei En. We are Christians from Xian City, Shaanxi Province, China. I want to briefly tell you of the cruel persecution we faced at the hands of the government because of our faith in God.
“I was converted the summer of 1994 in Moscow, Russia which is the fruit of the work of the Chinese missionaries from North America and Korea. I went to a Chinese church in the Far East for an internship that autumn. I had hoped to evangelize throughout middle Asia and submit a report on the Donggan Tribe to Pastor Larry, who was taking charge of the church then. The report was later handed over to Pastor Wang Yongxin from The Great Mission and published in a magazine sponsored by The Great Mission.
“I told my wife who remained at home in China about the Gospel after my conversion. Soon after, Li Jun, my neighbor in 1970’s, who is also my schoolmate in primary school and middle school, began frequent visits to my home with his wife, Zhang Wei. They were very ‘concerned’ about me. Actually our relationship was not so close after 1972 owing to our differences in character.
“Sometimes, my wife found [that] Li Jun seemed to be strangely familiar with what I had written to my wife. They even knew things in my letters that my wife had not mentioned to them. Obviously they were sent by the government. The persecution started following my baptism. I devoted myself to the evangelical work in Middle Asia, being ordained as an elder in the church, and writing the report on the Donggan Tribe. The persecution became more and more severe and cruel.
“One winter evening my wife returned home from working at a children’s food store. She lived alone at that time because our son was living with his grandparents. When she entered the apartment she was covered with a blanket and rendered unconscious. She found herself lying naked on the cold cement floor of our home when she came to.
“Another time my wife returned from work to find our home had been vandalized, clothes and bedding were smeared with excrement, and rice and flour were mixed with maggots. Later my wife found her medicine had been tampered with and it caused her to feel dizzy and even hallucinate.
“My wife also suffered physically and spiritually in her workplace by her boss and colleagues. She still trembles when she recalls what happened after I returned home at the beginning of 1995. My wife became rather weak as a result of severe persecution. When Li Jun heard that I was investigating the matter, he came to threatened me, saying, ‘I will make you so miserable that you would rather die.’ When our friends, Zhang Baohe and Zheng Jiankang, heard about this, they were also very angry at Li Jun.
“Though my wife was very weak, I still decide to go the Middle Asia as planned, for I had to make preparations before the mission group arrived there. So we departed at the beginning of May 1995 for Middle Asia. But we were stopped in Urumqi by Customs. So we had to return to Xian. I called Pastor Wang Yongxin and told him that we might not be able to get there. We did not suspect that threatening harassment was waiting for us. We tried to contact a sister in Christ after we returned home. Then we received a warning call directly from the police.
“On April 20, 1997, I was kidnapped on my way to work by a group of men. They first brought me to a room in the People’s Building in the former Xincheng Square. They revealed their identification as officers of the NSB (National Security Bureau) and then brought me home to search my apartment. I remembered the signature on the Xian National Security Bureau Detained Article List was Luo Xiaoming, who is an officer of the NSB. When I protested that they had violated my human rights, they laughed at me. They are familiar with Li Jun, because one of them revealed, ‘He is now working on a post doctorate in Huadong Normal University’ when I asked about Li Jun.”
He said that he was then stopped by another policeman. “I was released the next evening,” he continued in his letter to Bob Fu, “but the persecution did not cease. We lost our business, our flat, and had to wonder here and there like nomads. We moved to Changchun and served in a house church there, which was lead by Brother Pan Liangzuo. But after a short time, I felt as if someone was watching us.
“We left Changchun in the summer of 1998, and moved to Datong, then Linfen. At last we had to flee from China and came to seek refuge in Thailand, April 2004, our application Number NI19192 was rejected in January 2005, so we had to return to China. We fled from China again this past March after being driven out by the Shanghai government where we worked. We appealed to the UN Refugee Department this past April and they informed us that the application was not approved yet and asked us to wait.
“Pastor Fu, we hope you can inform the US government of our persecution in China, so we can go to America as refugees soon, because once we entering China, we will face great danger.”
A CAA spokesperson said, “After a thorough investigation, CAA have verified elder Lei’s claim that he and his family indeed had been persecuted for their independent Christian faith as House Church leaders in China. We believe Elder Lei Wensen, and his family members, will face harsh persecution from the Chinese government if they are forced to return to China from Thailand under current situation.
“We have been able to communicate with Rev. Larry Pan of Los Angeles who was the applicant, Mr. Lei Wensen’s pastor in China.”
In an open letter to UNHCR, Rev. Bob Fu asked the UN body to act quickly before Elder Lei’s situation gets worse. Fu wrote, “We urge you to reconsider your previous decision and grant Elder Lei and family members in Thailand the refugee status so that they can be protected by UNHCR before they resettle in the USA.”
For more information contact Bob Fu by e-mail at info@ChinaAid.org.