China (MNN) — After months of rumors regarding his death, human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng was confirmed alive last week. Although his exact whereabouts are still unknown, Voice of the Martyrs, Canada reports that he is, in fact, alive.
Gao was last seen over a year ago with Chinese officials. Despite his innocence regarding any crime beyond defending Christians, Gao was abducted and refused permission to speak to or see any of his family. His arrest took place on February 4, 2009.
Since his arrest, Gao's family has suffered beatings, and his wife and children have had to flee China to live in the United States. Gao was able to speak to them on the phone for the first time last week, which, according to VOMC partner ChinaAid Association, proved to be an emotional ordeal for all.
Gao was unable legally to give any interviews regarding his condition or anything he has been through, but he did speak to his close friend and fellow attorney Li Heping, who confirmed that it definitely was Gao on the phone. Gao said he was living in Wutai Shan mountain, but later indicated that he was being watched and did not explain much more about his whereabouts.
According to ChinaAid, "Gao informed AP, and Reuters reported, that he had been released from detention six months ago." ChinaAid has been working to free Gao since his unjust arrest and has been circulating petitions and requesting international pressure on the Chinese government for his freedom. Although it appears Gao may be free in a sense, he is still unable to reunite with his family or live away from surveillance.
Gao is an innocent believer who suffered much for his faith even before this last year. Pray that he would be allowed to reunite with his family. Pray that believers across China would see Gao's persecution as a confirmation that their faith is true and would continue to step out boldly in Christ.