China (MNN) — Worldwide, believers were rooting for China's Pastor Zhang "Bike" Mingxuan to be freed. China Aid Association (CAA), a partner of Voice of the Martyrs Canada, began a massive petition for his release which they personally delivered to the Chinese
embassy in the U.S.
57,000- that was the number of signatures on 617 pages of the petition. Bob Fu, founder of CAA, is continuously campaigning for religious freedom for persecuted believers in
China. He indicated that not only the petition, but the speedy response to the
petition, was a shot of encouragement to both "Bike" and the entire community of underground Chinese believers.
"It is encouraging in the sense that Chinese believers know they are not isolated. The hardest thing for a prisoner is isolation. But when the Chinese brothers and sisters know that over 50,000 brothers and sisters signed their signatures and expressed their support in prayer, that's a huge encouragement to them," said Fu.
Although Pastor Bike has been released, he is not allowed to enter Beijing until mid-September. Right now, there are many others who are in similar situations. A Beijing bookstore owner by the name of Shi Weihan also has been imprisoned and tortured illegally in a Beijing Detention Center.
Fu urges believers to continue to pray for religious freedom. In the letter delivered to the Chinese embassy, CAA explained that by allowing Chinese citizens personal freedoms, they will be addressing a need even deeper than physical protection from persecution. The letter explained that this freedom will strengthen the people and the country for honorable
Though Pastor Bike's release was uplifting, he is not entirely out of the line of fire. "He is a continued target by the Chinese government and their security apparatus. He is still not able to minister in Beijing where he used to be, and his church was closed. The orphanage that he used to minister to before the Olympics was forced to close," said Fu.
Fu's request for prayer for Pastor Bike can also be a prayer for the entire body of underground believers: "Continue to pray for him and his family that the Lord will protect, sustain, and strengthen him for his continuous fight for religious freedom."