May I be so bold as to say that I hope you will find this human interest story quite interesting and yet at the same time disturbing enough to act upon. I’ve recently been reading stories on Martyrs from all around the world. During this desire to want to learn and know more about what my brothers and sisters in Christ have endured and are continuing to endure, I stumbled across something I believe deserves to be made known to all who will listen.
I receive a magazine every month called, “Voice of the Martyrs.” I am also reading a book called, “Hearts of Fire.” It just so happens that the magazine and the book I am reading have somewhat similar stories yet only 16 years separate them; or does it? I hate to say but I believe this tragic story can be told first hand innumerable times dating even further back than the first story I am about to share with you.
The story of Ling can be found on pages 193-232 in the book entitled, “Hearts of Fire.” It was April 1994 and by the age of 30 Ling had been on the run for 10 years. She had even seen her name on a “Wanted” poster during that time. One night she decided to step outside an apartment building to make a phone call. As soon as she walked outside the police were waiting to apprehend her. She was never told of her crime but she was interrogated for 10 months while also being severely tortured regularly. She was asked all kinds of questions such as, “Who are the people you have connections with overseas? Tell us about your illegal meetings. Who gives you your books and Bibles?” Clamps were placed behind her back and situated in such a way that she heard her bones crack. She eventually passed out from the pain finding herself facedown on the floor in her cell. She could not get up to eat or use her bucket because the pain was too great. Finally authorities had no real evidence and could not get her to reveal the names of her fellow believers. So in January of 1995 they reluctantly released her.
While in this Chinese prison Lings’ job was to make cigarette lighters. The book, “Hearts of Fire” specifically says that those cigarette lighters were to be exported to the West which is the reason I’ve written this article. Ling was imprisoned a second time and her next assignment was making wigs. At the time of the writing of “Hearts of Fire” in 2003 Ling was still on the government watch list after already being imprisoned twice. This is just a brief overview of Ling’s story.
Please bear with me as I share a few details on this next story about Yang Caizhen. Her daughter tells the story in the May 2010 issue of the “Voice of the Martyrs” magazine. Yang’s daughter Esther speaks of how her mother and father were sent to prison along with her aunt and uncle. On Sunday, September 13, 2009, more than 400 Chinese officials and hired thugs stormed the grounds of the Linfen Fushan Church, destroying buildings and injuring more than 100 church members. The church is said to be able to hold 50,000 people. Esther’s father was sentenced to three-and-a-half years but his whereabouts are unknown. Although, Esther does know where her mother is and of the two year prison sentence through a re-education through labor camp. Her job is to make cigarette lighters also. Esther worries about her mom who has arthritis and feels her mother’s health will only worsen under the stress of 15-hour days working in the labor camp. There is also so much more to this story which is featured throughout most of the magazine.
Throughout my lifetime I have often heard the phrase that we need to, “Buy American.” I have to admit it was not quite that big of a deal to me where I bought something as long as I got what I wanted. Then I heard about “Child Labor Laws” and still not even until recently after reading stories such as these has it become a wake up call. I’ve been reading where children whose ages range in the single digits are being forced to roll cigarettes. Now I am faced with knowing the “real facts” and am dumfounded by this new reality check.
The enemy who is Satan has deceived authorities in China into believing they have the right to behave as heartless barbarians and beast of the earth by torturing believers in Christ beyond comprehension. I feel that as a Christian I have a duty to expose these heinous crimes against humanity. The Christians in China do not have the freedom to speak up for themselves but here in America where our freedom is gradually slipping away we can be a voice for those who aren’t being heard.
That is why I ask you join me in this effort to expose these evil deeds of darkness by not purchasing cigarette lighters that are made in China. Also, please do not forget some wigs are manufactured in China in the same cruel fashion. The United States may import “so-called goods” from China but we as individuals have a choice on our purchases.
Think of who is prospering from the sale of cigarette lighters when you imagine the guards torturing those who do not meet production standards. You can also think of it like this as you put yourself in your current position and mindset here in America. You work day in and day out to make a living for yourself. You want the money but wish you did not have to work so hard or for so many hours. Now think of Ling and Yang who work 15 to 16 hours a day 7 days a week. They have to make production and they do not get paid. They are tortured for not making production and the people who torture them are the ones lining their pockets. Plus, they are tortured for not releasing names of their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Maybe you do not believe in God but you do have some form of belief in something. Do you really think the punishment these people receive for their beliefs is just? It may seem hard to believe but the truth is Christian persecution is not something from the ancient past. According to estimates, approximately 176,000 Christians are martyred each year.
I have started a cause on Facebook called, “Ban Cigarette Lighters Made in China” and on my Blog at www.jennifersides.com. I have included this article under the same name in the “Articles Section.” I ask you to make people aware of this terrible situation by forwarding this email and Facebook cause on to everyone you think will be interested. You can join the Facebook cause at http://www.causes.com/causes/482948.
I did a survey on cigarette lighter brands and Bic along with Zippo are made in the U.S.A.. The mini Bic lighter is made in France while Scripto is made in China. Please take a stand and make a conscience effort not to buy a Scripto lighter.
One last thing I am able to do that I consider a great honor is to write to Yang Caizhen in her labor camp. I have no way of knowing if she receives my letters but I do know that the people in charge will see them. Voice of the Martyrs has sent prewritten postcards in Chinese with her address to their subscribers and now she is receiving them from all over the world. All it takes is writing your signature on it and a 98 cent stamp. In addition to the post cards I plan to use an online translator to interpret English into Chinese and send Yang letters as well.
To read more about the persecution of the saints go to persecution and Defend Christians. I encourage you to contact Voice of the Martyrs at the persecution website or by phone to start receiving their free monthly magazine. Hopefully, in the near future we will read of Yangs early release from the labor camp and the world-wide support she is receiving. Thank you for taking the time to read this article and I hope that you will take to heart the seriousness of this critical issue. And please remember Ling and Yang whenever you purchase a cigarette lighter.