By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
BEIJING (Worthy News) – Christians say the health of a Chinese church elder, jailed in China since November 2021, has improved, but he may face ten years imprisonment on ‘fraud’ charges.
Hao Ming was active in the Early Rain Qingcaodi Church in the city of Deyang, which faced a crackdown by Chinese Communist authorities, said Christians familiar with the case.
Though retired from the pastorate, Hao continued openly expressing his faith in Christ till his detention, angering local Communists, Worthy News established.
At the time of his arrest, Hao was detained along with several other Christian leaders, some of whom have since been released.
His wife, Yang Yufeng, fears she may not see her husband for years as his case has been moved to the People’s Court for prosecution on alleged fraud charges.
If convicted for allegedly defrauding over $71,000, he could serve up to 10 years in prison, said advocacy group ChinaAid which supports the family.
Additionally, there were concerns about the health of the Christian, who is in his mid-60s.
When his lawyer visited him in May 2022, he was in poor health and not receiving needed medical treatment, Christians said. Concerns were raised that his life may be at risk as guards, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, prohibited him from visiting a hospital.
However, in comments shared with Worthy News, Hao’s lawyer, Zhu Shujin, said he recently met with his client, who “looks well.” Hao also continues to deny all charges against him, apparently adding to tensions with supervisors.
The lawyer said his client hasn’t been allowed a Bible to study, and there are “no opportunities to meet for worship.” Worthy News was not immediately able to reach Chinese authorities about the case, but Beijing has in the past denied wrongdoing.
Yet despite being in prison and without a Bible, Hao regularly recites the Apostles’ Creed from memory, the lawyer said. Though not written by the apostles, it is the oldest creed of the Christian church and the basis for others that followed.
The Apostles Creed includes several sentences: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord.”
Zhu said his client “has been reflecting on Chinese culture and his life, recognizing that his time on earth is short compared to eternity.”
He also asked him to read Psalm 73, which the lawyer was apparently able to bring with him inside the prison. It says in verses 25 and 26: “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.”
Advocacy groups say his case underscored broader concerns about Christian prisoners jailed on charges linked to their faith who aren’t allowed to carry a Bible.
The atheistic ruling Chinese Communist Party has increasingly discouraged Christianity with police raids of non-state-approved churches and other groups reported across the country.
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