Chinese bookstore owner re-arrested

By April 23, 2008

China (MNN) — China continues to crack down on what they call illegal Christian activity in the country. Compass Direct News and Voice of the Martyrs are reporting a Christian bookstore owner in Beijing has been re-arrested.

VOM's Todd Nettleton says 37-year-old Shi Weihan is the man in question. "He was arrested late last year, held for just over a month. And then, in January the courts turned him loose and said there was insufficient evidence to keep holding him. We have now learned that he was re-arrested (and) is still being held."

The question is, what kind of evidence do they have now, that they didn't have in January?

His wife said she had received no word on her husband's condition, and she has been prohibited from bringing him any food or change of clothing since his re-arrest.

Nettleton says Weihan's bookstore was legal. "All of the Christian books that he sold had the official government stamp. He paid the taxes he was supposed to pay. The bookstore was operating completly according to the law. "

However, Nettleton says he could have been arrested for something else. "There is also word that he was printing Christian literature for the house churches — printing Bibles there. Because the demand is so great and because the government presses do not print enough Bibles, the house churches in China are forced to do anything they can to get additional Bibles. That may be what the charges are this time, but it's unclear at this point."

Nettleton was asked if this is Christian persecution, or just a Christian breaking the law. "Absolutely this is Christian persecution. If this man wasn't a Christian, he would not be in jail. I also wonder if the Olympics were not going to start in August in Beijing, maybe he wouldn't be in jail then either."

Many Christian groups suggest believers need to follow the laws in China. Nettleton counters, "Do we follow the rules of China, or do we follow the rules of God, which says, 'Get His word into the hands of as many people as possible. Obviously the Christians are going to err on the side of following the call that God has placed on them."

Voice of the Martyrs is asking Christians worldwide to pray for Weihan. "This is a man who suffers from diabetes, who has been kept away from his family. We don't know what his condition is. He definitely needs our prayers. The other thing we can do is call the Chinese embassy. Make them know that this case is now known outside of China, that this is a potential P.R. problem for them."

You can contact the Chinese Embassy by clicking here.
In the U.S. call (202) 328-2500 or (202) 328-2551.

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