By BosNewsLife News Center
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Chinese authorities have released well-known Beijing house church activist Liu Fenggang after he served three years in prison in Zhejiang province, his supporters confirmed Wednesday, February 7.
Liu, now 48, was released and returned to his home in Beijing on Monday February 5, said China Aid Association (CAA) an advocacy group representing house churches.
He was arrested on October 13, 2003 and sentenced to three years on August 6, 2004 for "providing national intelligence to overseas organizations" by reporting a house church destruction case to overseas Christian organizations.
During his imprisonment, brother Liu was hospitalized "five times for serious heart disease and diabetes," CAA said. In 1995, before his 2003 arrest and imprisonment, Liu reportedly spent two years in a labor camp because of his work among house churches.
SEEKING MEDICAL CARE
CAA said it is helping Liu receive "proper medical care" for his conditions. In remarks released by Liu thanked those who helped him and his family during the imprisonment. "I am very thankful of God's grace and the prayers and letters from brothers and sisters all over the world," he said. "My mom died during my first imprisonment in 1995 and my little son grew a lot without me during the past three years."
He said, "the suffering" he and his family had to endure was "nothing compared to the martyred brothers and sisters in China." Lui stressed he would, "continue to stand up for this just cause for which I am called [by God] to speak up for the persecuted."
News of his release came shortly after CAA said its human rights advisor, Deborah Fikes, met senior Chinese officials from both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and State Administration for Religious Affairs.
Fikes said there were some indications of a small improvement of religious freedom for Christians, despite reports of ongoing persecution.
She visited a government-backed church in Beijing where she discovered that "Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ" were able to worship "in such a friendly atmosphere and to purchase Bibles after the service in the church book store."
Fikes noted that "compared to what happened during the Cultural Revolution when all of the Chinese churches were closed, there is definitely progress in regards to the issue of religious freedom in China."
She also managed to openly attend a house church service and stressed she was "hopeful that Christians who worship in unregistered churches will become better known for praying for God to bless their government leaders and also to lead the way in showing respect and love towards them."
However CAA and other groups have cautioned that many house churches in China are still raided and that Christians across the country have been imprisoned. Despite these difficulties, Chinese authorities reportedly admitted recently that here are now 130 million Christians in the Communist-run nation, at least 50 million more than previous estimates.
Christians wishing to send what CAA described as "Letters of" to Liu Fenggang and his wife Bi Yuxia were encouraged to write to: No. 14, Dong Ba Pai, Yun Qi Chang, Xi San Qi, Haidian District, Beijing, People's Republic of China, Zip code: 10000. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from China.).
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