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Pastor Zhang Shaojie
Photo: ChinaAid

Zhang Shaojie, the pastor of the Nanle County Christian Church, was sentenced on July 4th to 12 years in prison and also fined 100,000 yuan (approximately $17,000 CAD).

Pastor Zhang was detained in November of 2013 after he met with authorities in the church -- a meeting that turned out to be a set-up in order to detain the pastor. He was later charged with gathering a crowd to disrupt public order and fraud. Several other Christians were also apprehended at the time. Thankfully, three of these imprisoned believers were released in June; however, along with Pastor Zhang, five others remain behind bars. (For more information on their arrest, please visit this page.)

Bob Fu, the president of China Aid, a VOMC partner, has blasted Pastor Shaojie's sentencing: "This verdict is totally unacceptable. The so-called core evidence was collected illegally based on a forced confession. Even the key witness...has been held in an unknown black jail. This case shows the Chinese government continues to cover up religious persecution with fabricated criminal charges against an innocent church leader."

Please pray that Pastor Zhang and his loved ones will be filled with God's peace despite this disappointing verdict, trusting that his life is safely in the Lord's hands. Even while detained unjustly, may this pastor serve as "salt" and "light" to fellow prisoners and prison guards (Matthew 5:13-16). Please also pray that this ruling will be overturned, and that Pastor Zhang will be free to return home to his family and congregation. While thanking God for the release of the three Christians, let us also continue to pray for the safety and release of those remaining in detention.

For more information on the suffering of China's persecuted church, visit our online country report.