Modern Day Saint
Jiang Zongxiu, 34-year-old wife and mother, went to her neighborhood market last June with her mother-in-law to distribute some Christian tracts and Bibles in the market place and to talk about Jesus. This is in the Guizhou province of China. They did this frequently, but on this day they both were arrested by the Chinese Police. The two women were handcuffed and brought to the local police station. They were interrogated throughout the evening of June 17, 2004. The next morning, both were sentenced by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) to 15 days administrative detention for their suspected activities of spreading rumors and disturbing social order. Jiang was found dead during interrogation time at about 2pm on the following day. A report of the sudden, mysterious death appeared in China Legal Daily on July 4, 2004, questioning the cause of Jiang’s death. However, despite numerous formal appeals by relatives of the victim to higher authorities, including both the provincial and central governments, so far, no representative of either government has accepted responsibility to address the request. Surprisingly, the local government-managed first autopsy result claimed Jiang died of heart failure, but failed to mention the fingerprints, imprints, and stripes on the body, which any lay person can identify as caused by beatings during the interrogation. Mrs. Jiang left a four-year-old son, Zhang Jun, and her husband, as well as her aged parents.
Jiang and her mother-in-law knew the risk of spreading the Christian doctrine in Communist China. Both had been active in their church for more than 10 years and dared to go forth. Even when they were arrested and sentenced to 15 days, they were willing to accept the consequences of their action. This is another grave case of religious persecution which cost an innocent, 34-year-old lady her life, simply because of distributing the Gospel books of the Bible in a country that claims to have “freedom of religion.”
The real significance of the word martyr comes not from the dying but from the witnessing, which the word means in its derivation. People who are willing to give up everything, their most precious possessions, their very lives, put a supreme value on the cause or belief for which they sacrifice. Martyrdom, dying for the faith, is an incidental extreme to which some have had to go to manifest their belief in Christ. Jiang Zongxiu was one of these persons.
Much of the world would like to believe Christians are no longer persecuted and even murdered for their faith. The Christian Monitor, as well as other Christian organizations, monitors persecution around the world. Here are some of the known martyrs of 2004:
No one knows the numbers of Christians who have been martyred in China, North Korea, Sudan, Indonesia and many of the other countries where these incidents are not documented. Many suffer torture, imprisonment, beatings, and other brutal acts before dying for their faith. “The shocking untold story of our time is that more Christians have died this century than in the first 19 centuries after the birth of Christ. They have been persecuted and martyred before an unknowing, indifferent world and a largely silent Christian community.” Nina Shea of Freedom House.
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