EDITOR’S NOTE: China’s government has for 16 weeks been coming down hard on Beijing’s 1,000-member Shouwang Church — banishing some members from the Chinese capital, pressuring employers and landlords to shun members. The following, provided by the China Aid Association, is an account of how a close friend of Pastor Jin Tianming attempted to visit him.
By Yuan Xin
Special to Beliefnet
The cab stopped at the gate of the residential compound Shuguang Garden. When I saw the window of Pastor Tianming’s house, tears couldn’t help flowing from my eyes. When I last came here with my mother who was seriously sick and with a few big pieces of luggage, Tianming had been waiting downstairs for a long time with a smiling face. Today, it’s hard to recall all these past episodes of our life. Tianming has been placed under house arrest for over 10 weeks now and I didn’t know how his health was and how his mood was. Thinking of this, sadness overwhelmed me and tears ran down my face.
After I made a right turn, walked on a cement sidewalk and entered the elevator room on the first floor, I pressed 9 button for the 9th floor, someone immediately began to examine us with an investigative look. I avoided that suspicious eye-contact and stared at the door of the elevator. Finally, the elevator came to the 9th floor.
As soon as I came out of the elevator, I was stunned as I was already facing a desk with an appointment book with visitors’ names and their IDs.
Obviously, this place has been turned into a formal mini-office and I found this both funny and annoying. A policewoman stood at the side of desk and was ready for the confrontation. When she saw my eyesight turned right in search of Tianming’s door, she seemed to know that we were visitors instead of tenants on the 9th floor. So the questioning started this way:
What’s your name? Got an ID with you?
I made an effort to smile a little and hesitated whether she required us to show her the identifications. “I am a friend of Tianming’s family and I come from outside the town. I’d like to visit them in passing. I’ve been here before.”
Before is before and now is now. No one can pass here without signing in.
This was followed by a banging sound and a registration book was thrown before me. I took a deep breath and exhaled it with some efforts.
I prayed silently: “My Lord. Since I’ve come here from so far away, I should cooperate with them till I can see him and have a good chat.”
I took out the purse but my hand didn’t seem to do what I wanted it to do.
It trembled incessantly as if I were a criminal.
I knew the person under the house arrest is Tianming, not myself —