Thursday, April 23, 2009

"At that crucial moment I saw Jesus"

AsiaNews released a story today in memory of a Chinese Christian, Father Francis Tan Tiande, who spent 30 years in a labour camp because of his faith. Father Francis passed away today at 5:00 a.m. local time at the age of 93.

Father Francis was jailed for his faith in 1953. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without a trial and was shipped to a forced labour camp in north-eastern China. His sentence was gradually reduced due to good behavior.

After 30 years of suffering in detention, Father Francis was released and spent the rest of his life as an assistant priest. In his diary, he wrote of the trials he endured and the ways he showed Christ's love to fellow prisoners and the guards.

“In the 30 years I spent in the north-east, farming was my main occupation. Each year, when spring came we had to fertilize a field that was as hard as steel [because of the extreme cold]. We used pickaxes to break the ground. Once the ground was loose, we would water it and plant the seeds. Today, when I describe all this, it does not all seem so bad. In reality we were underfed. All that work was beyond our capacity and each minute was an agony . . .”

“People might wonder how I could survive such terrible conditions. For those who do not believe, it is an enigma with no solution. For those who believe, it is God’s will. Life is man’s most precious gift. I must take care of this gift so as not be ungrateful. Hence I ate wild herbs to survive, and tree bark . . . Such were the conditions I lived in that I experienced my fellow inmates’ brutal actions . . . That pain was even worse than hunger. I wanted to run in the fields, shouting ‘Where are you God?’ . . . I cannot remember how many times I wanted to end it all, but at the crucial moment I saw Jesus on the cross looking at me with those merciful eyes . . . and telling me ‘Man of little faith! Do you doubt perhaps that I love you?'”

Christians in China continue to suffer harshly at the hands of authorities. According to reports from ChinaAid and Compass Direct, Uyghur Christian Alimujiang Yimiti, who was arrested in January 2008 for "endangering national security," remains in detention and is in poor health. Police officers and a prison doctor recently escorted him in handcuffs to a hospital and he reportedly called out to onlookers, "I'm sick. Tell my lawyer to come quickly to see me." Local sources have disclosed that Yimiti has been beaten in prison. Believers close to Yimiti insist that his arrest is due to his Christian faith and witness and his association with foreign Christians.

Continue to pray for Christians under fire in China. Pray that in their crucial moments they will see Jesus and reach out to their persecutors with His love.

No comments: