A Chinese house church historian was being denied to receive his identity card after released from the prison, stopping him to attend a religious event in the U.S. this month.
The 50-year-old Zhang Yinan in Henan province as arrested on Sept. 26, 2003 and imprisoned for two years on charges of "attempting to subvert the national government," according to the international Christian persecution news agency Compass Direct.
Even though he was released in September 2005, Zhang’s personal documents, including his identity card, were kept by Lushan County Police Bureau. Despite Zhang’s repeated request to the authorities to claim back his documents, police officer Li Haitao, Zhang’s chief interrogator, argued that the identity card was not part of the confiscated items, Compass Direct reported.
In December 2005, Zhang received an invitation to attend the 56th National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. However, he is unable to apply a passport and the U.S. visa without his identity card. He could not even use public transport, stay in a hotel or leave the province.
Compass Direct reported the only document that can prove Zhang’s identity is his prison card from the "School of Cultivating Virtues" (a "re-education through labor center") in Henan.
According to Compass Direct, Zhang has attempted to apply a passport at the police station, but the police immediately surrounded his apartment. Zhang’s wife, who works as a nurse, is also constantly followed by the police. An estimated 50 to 60 policemen were assigned to a 24-hour surveillance of Zhang’s house until the prayer breakfast began on Feb. 2.
Despite the restriction of the Chinese government on Zhang, Zhang said to Compass Direct that he would not give up traveling and ministering to house church believers.
"I am called by God to be an evangelist," Zhang said. "No matter how long and hard the winter is, it will eventually pass."
"From Wang Mingdao’s arrest in August 1955 until today, Chinese house church preachers have been imprisoned continuously. But the Lord has raised up lilies among the thorns," Zhang wrote from prison to his son in one of the letters obtained by Compass Direct. "Our Lord Jesus loves China, and He allows one generation after another to endure the suffering and go through many kinds of trials so that we may be built up in Him."
Zhang has been accused by the Chinese government of trying to overthrow the authority after investigation of his personal prayer journals in 2003. Till now, the journals are still not returned to Zhang as the police insist to continue studying the journals to find any other incriminating evidence.
According to the latest international religious freedom report published by the U.S. Department of State, government officials continued to scrutinize closely contacts between citizens and foreigners involved in religion. The Chinese government detained some citizens for providing religious information to foreigners and prevented some religious figures from traveling abroad.