China (MNN) — For many of us, lighted Christmas trees awaken our holiday hopes
and memories: quiet moments of family togetherness, child-like
anticipation of special gifts, and shared celebrations across
However, there is another story in each strand of Christmas lights: much of the manual labor required to assemble these lights often comes from battered and imprisoned Chinese pastors.
For preaching the Gospel, Chinese pastors
are often thrown into jail and forced into
backbreaking labor. They are sometimes
forced to assemble Christmas lights after suffering an immense beating.
"They hit me on my face, back and legs, and when they
learned I couldn't walk, they beat me more," said Lee, a Chinese pastor. "I was
forced to make Christmas lights 15 hours a day, and my fingers are permanently
WorldServe Ministries found that green-stringed Christmas lights
bearing a "Made in China" tag are assembled in prisons, and the task of
assembling these lights often fell to imprisoned pastors. Since they have no
tools, pastors are forced to put the lights together with their teeth and hands.
Forced to meet unreasonable daily production quotas of 3,000 to 5,000
individual lights, pastors often work 24-hours straight and are severely beaten
if they don't meet the quota.
Hundreds of pastors are imprisoned and survive on less than
500 calories a day, but their greatest concern is for their families. In China, the
sole financial provider is the father. After a pastor is taken to jail, financial
and spiritual support is taken away from the family. A pastor's family is
marked, and obtaining a job is nearly impossible for any family member. As
possessions are usually confiscated, daily survival becomes a struggle.
Through their "Lights of Christmas" program, WorldServe is providing food, shelter, clothing and
medicines for these needy families while their provider is imprisoned.
"One of the most meaningful aspects of the Lights of
Christmas program is that it raises support for the families of pastors that are
in prison," said a WorldServe representative. He encourages believers to heed
the words of Hebrews 13:3, "Remember those in prison as if you were their
fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were
"It's more encouraging than just a boycott," said a
WorldServe associate. "Boycott will hurt the economy in China, so it's better
if we can support."
A gift of $50 will support a persecuted pastor's family for a
whole month. WorldServe encourages believers to keep the pastors' families in
"They never asked us that we pray that persecution would
stop," said a Chinese WorldServe partner. "They asked us to pray so that they
If you'd like to participate in the Lights of Christmas
program, visit the WorldServe Web site by clicking here.