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Shi Minglei, Cheng Yuan
Shi Minglei and husband Cheng Yuan
Photo: ChinaAid

Cheng Yuan was arrested in 2019 for his work as a lawyer, and for his involvement in an organization known as Changsha Funeng (read more). The purpose of the organization is to protect the rights and interests of vulnerable members of society. The arrested Christian lawyer was eventually sentenced to five years in prison. Two other members of the organization, who were convicted along with Cheng, have received sentences of two or three years.

Cheng's wife, Shi Minglei, continues to advocate for her husband's freedom. Having fled the country for safety in 2021, Shi and her daughter are presently living in the United States. On July 5th, the family received three letters from Cheng – one was addressed to Shi, one to his older sister, and the other to his father. In the letters, the imprisoned lawyer reveals that he was suddenly transferred to the Hunan Chishan Prison on January 18th and placed in solitary confinement until April 18th. During this time, he was prohibited from making any contact with his family and subjected to forced labour.

In his letter to Shi, he also disclosed that he worked all day, specifically making mention of operating a sewing machine, and was then forced to submit to the indoctrination of Communist propaganda each evening. He has also been prohibited from having any contact with his lawyer.

It has been reported that conditions in the Hunan Chishan Prison are torturous. According to Lee Ming-che, who had served a term of five years in this same prison, the cells have no windows and can barely accommodate a small bed. Prison officials conduct roll calls every hour and ensure that a blinding light is left on 24 hours a day. They further mistreat the prisoners by not allowing them to cover their eyes from the blinding light with their blankets. Shi believes that the reason for the added punishment is because Cheng refuses to plead guilty of "inciting subversion of state power."

Please uphold Cheng in your prayers, asking the Lord to give him strength to endure the harsh conditions of the Hunan Chishan Prison while awaiting deliverance. Also pray for Shi and the couple's daughter as they too try to cope during this difficult time of separation with such limited contact. May this Christian family experience a greater awareness of God's Spirit with them – and the resulting peace, comfort and hope He alone provides – so they will be encouraged to keep trusting in His sovereignty and timing. May their situation serve as a reminder of our need to remember the many other believers who are similarly suffering in China's prisons because of their faith.