Chinese pastor released as thousands sign petition

By September 1, 2008

China (MNN) — Two organizations working together to secure the release of a well-known pastor in China have had success.

On August 6, just two days before the Olympics started, Pastor Zhang "Bike" Mingxuan was arrested, along with his wife and a coworker. In response to these arrests, The Voice of the Martyrs and China Aid Association began working together to help. VOM's Todd Nettleton says they asked Christians around the world to sign a petition asking the Chinese government to release Pastor Zhang Mingxuan.

Nettleton says the two organizations launched the petition drive August 26 not only to free these three Christians, but also to let the Chinese government know that the world is aware that these Christians are being detained. "When they realize that a case like this is known around the world and that people are responding from around the world, it does tend to influence them," Nettleton says.

It appears the petition worked, says Nettleton. "On Friday, we learned that he had in fact been released. [We received an] excellent report that he was well treated along with his wife and co-worker while they were in custody, even having opportunities to talk about Christ and talk about the house churches with religious affairs officials in China."

Pastor Mingxuan is affectionately known as Pastor Bike because he's traveled more than 10,000 miles on his bicycle sharing Christ; he is considered to be one of the most outspoken evangelists in China. He is a bold believer willing to cross borders, hand out Christian literature and Bibles, share Christ with those under age 18 and lead thousands to Christ. All these actions are considered "illegal," in communist China. Earlier this year, Pastor Bike pleaded with VOM staff and China Aid Association to create the China Prayer Bands so that Christians in the free world could know more about persecution of Christians in China.

Thousands of people have requested the prayer bands and are now praying for persecuted believers in China.

Nettleton says more than 50,000 people signed the petition to secure Pastor Bike's release. "We are still going to deliver those names to the Chinese Embassy in Washington, but instead of it being a petition — 'Please let Pastor Bike go,' it will become a 'thank you' letter."

While Pastor Bike wasn't aware of the petition drive, he wonders if that was the reason for their early release. Nettleton says, "I think for sure it was, or at least it played a role in influencing the Chinese government, because remember: they want the world to think there is religious freedom there."

Nettleton was asked if this type of petition drive would be used again: "One of our goals is to give Christians a way to do something. That petition was an outgrowth of that, and in this case it made a huge difference."

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