Happy All Saints Day! Today is the first Christian holiday, the day that the church remembers those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the gospel. We remember our fallen brothers in the Lord who are clothed in white robes (Revelation 6:9-11). As is my custom I offer you a story of martyrdom, this year from the book Jesus Freaks:
Seven Chinese guards surrounded Gao Feng, who was handcuffed to a chair. The guards took turns shocking him with cattle prods. "Eat!" they commanded. "And we will stop.
Feng had gone on a hunger strike to get back his copy of the Scriptures which the guards had taken from him. They were torturing him to get him to stop the hunger strike. At times, he thought he could no longer stand the pain, but he didn't give up. They never broke his spirit...
Gao Feng, a 30-year-old worker at Chrysler's Jeep plant in Beijing, had tried to work within the Communist government system to get a Protestant church registered. Only government-sanctified churches are legal in China. All others are illegal, their services are often disrupted by the police, and the pastors and congregations are beaten and imprisoned.
Feng collected signatures for a petition seeking government registration for his church so they could meet legally,. For this "crime" he was arrested and sent to prison without a trial, his home and possessions confiscated.
As a result of his hunger strike, Feng was sent to a northern province for "re-education through labor." While there, he lived in a 12 by 20 foot cell with sixteen other prisoners. They spent twelve hours each day working in the fields. At night, with so many in such a small cell, they had to arrange themselves a certain way so that everyone could lay down.
When he was transferred back to Beijing, he refused to chant the pro-government slogans with the other prisoners, so his "re-education" was continued. This time, his brainwashing included being forced to watch the news every evening on government controlled TV. Finally, after more than two years in prison and in re-education camps, Feng was released on February 7th, 1998.
To Feng, it was all worth it, and he would happily go to prison again. "I would prefer to be in prison for two years than to do nothing for God," he said. In fact, he feels lucky. As people wrote to the Chinese govenment demanding his release. Feng says the international attention focused on his case earned him better treatment from the Chinese authorities. "Others who are less well known are simply executed."