By BosNewsLife Asia Service
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- An evangelical pastor who trained Christian missionaries and evangelized in northwest China and Tibet has been sentenced to two years forced because of his Christian activities, investigators said.
Advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA) said Pastor Zhang Zhongxin was sentenced last week, July 4, in the city of Jining City in Shandong on somewhat unclear charges of “cult participation in the the whole scope of the Church".
CAA, which is in close contact with the pastor's relatives, said the ruling was issued by the local 'Reeducation-Through-Labor Management Committee. It,”issued a written decision sentencing Zhang Zhongxin to two years re-education through labour,” CAA told BosNewsLife
There was no immediate response from Chinese authorities. Zhang apparently began his labor program July 4, and is scheduled to be released June 5, 2010.
CAA said Pastor Zhang has already appealed and applied for legal aid. He is hoping to hire defense lawyers and his wife, Wang Gui-Yun, “will coordinate the hiring of legal defense for her husband,” CAA explained. His appeal hearing is reportedly scheduled for August 14, in Jiaxiang County Detention Center.
The group said authorities have been angered by his involvement in organizing 'Sunday School' training courses, as well as "preaching the Gospel to the northwest, Tibet and other places for missionaries, and...sermons." The sentencing comes amid growing concern among rights groups about reports of a crackdown on house churches and Christian leaders ahead of the Olympic Games in Beijing. Chinese authorities have denied religious rights abuses, saying they have even allowed the printing thousands of Bibles for distribution in the Olympic Village.
Christians have said however that while Chinese authorities allow some steps, they want to make sure the international community will not discover the extend of persecution of believers worshipping outside the government-sanctioned churches. CAA said it has urged “Chinese authorities to immediately stop the persecution of Christians.”
It said concerned Christians could approach the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC. Its adress was identified as Address: 2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20007. Phone numbers are: (1-202) 338-6688, (1-202) 5889 760 and the fax: is (1-202) 588-9760.
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