I Have a Dream...
I recently read in the VOM (May issue) of a young woman by the name of Esther. Her mother and father are leaders in a church in China. Recently, however, the police dragged off many of the leaders and imprisoned them. Esther's parents were among them. No one is sure where her father is located, but her mother was sentenced to a labor camp in Shanxi province. Esther's mother suffers from arthritis, and she has been sentenced to 15 hours per day of physical labor. On behalf of Esther, VOM requested that everyone send a pre-written letter to Yang, and they sent out six of them with their May newsletter.
So what is my dream? I was going to send out my letter after I first decorated it. You know, in labors camps, the people don't usually get to enjoy anything beautiful or colorful. But now, my mission has expanded. As someone who has been greatly touched by the testimonies of the persecuted church, I want to do something more -- something to show them that I love them, greatly appreciate them, and am praying for them. So here is my battle plan:
1) I am going to copy the original letter onto a piece of 8 x 11 paper and print it out, leaving plenty of room at the bottom for step 2.
2) With the space at the bottom of the paper, I am going to collect as many signatures as I can from people who will honestly pray for Esther and her family. (This would be a limited number of course, because I don't know a whole lot of people, but you can make it happen too; just go here to order your letters, and hand them out to your friends, as well.) In this case, a little goes a long ways. In fact, PRAYER goes a long ways!
3) With this paper the information provided by VOM about Esther's mother, Yang, will be included. In this way, those who sign can know the situation and what to pray for. My hope is that the more people that sign the letter to Yang, the more she will feel the love from her Christian brothers and sisters. Separate letters can go a long way, but can you imagine seeing numerous signatures on ONE letter addressed to you stating that they are praying for you -- especially when the government does not always allow letters to reach the prisoners?
4) I am going to also include an open letter to the government of China on Yang's behalf. If many people sign this, it will let the government know that we are aware of the situation and want justice to be done. In many instances, such letters have caused the government to release the prisoner, because they are under pressure. I will see about putting this up on the web somewhere, and I'll let you know when I do incase you're interested.
Actually, I believe the combined effort will have double the impact; because VOM wants people to sign the individual letters not only to let Yang know that we are praying for her, but also to let the government know that people are aware of the situation! But I'm gonna try to do both "in one foul swoop". I'm pretty excited about the impact this can have. And once I get the petition up online, you can send it along to your friends and keep the ball rolling!
So that is my dream. Why, you ask? Because these precious brothers and sisters in Christ need our support. How would you feel if you were in a very bad situation and no one came alongside you in prayer? And is it even fair to have a woman with arthritis doing hard labor? I think we can all agree that it is not. But the reason that Yang is enduring this is for the same reason that many other Christians in restricted nations do: It is all for the love of Christ. They are punished because they refuse to deny Him. But since we have the opportunity and we live in a free nation, we as their brothers and sisters, cannot stand idley by while injustice is done. We must stand up for the truth. If you do nothing else (that is, if you don't send the letters), please commit to pray for Esther and her family.
Below is an interview with Esther that VOM did (I haven't seen it, but I recommend it based on the article which I read in their magazine.):
"...always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:10
"Remember the prisoners as if chained with them--those who are mistreated--since you yourselves are in the body also." ~ Hebrews 13:3
UPDATE: I was just made aware that the Voice of the Martyrs has Yang featured on their prisoner alert page, where you can send her an encouraging letter and alert the government.