Chinese Bible seller sentenced to three years in prison

Published 13 June 2009  |  
A Chinese court in Bejing has sentenced a Christian bookstore owner to three years in prison for an "illegal business operation" in the verdict pronounced on Wednesday.

Shi Weihan 38, pastor of a house church leader was also fined 150,000 Yuan fine (about US $22,000) for printing and distributing Bibles at no cost, ChinaAid reported.

According to the law, his jail time prior to the trial counts as part of his three-year sentence time. Six others stood trial together with Shi Weihan, and also received criminal sentences. It is believed that these individuals were share holders and executives of the printing company which printed the Bibles.

If the appeal is made, the report said "the process could take up to a year, while Shi Weihan would remain in prison. It is still uncertain whether the family will file an appeal due to the enormous pressure from the Public Security Bureau (PSB)."

It is also learnt that Weihan has serious medical diabetic condition, but the lawyers' prior applications for medical parole were never granted by the authorities.

Pastor Shi Weihan and his wife Zhang Jing are both house church workers. They have two daughters, 12-year-old Shi Jia and 8-year-old Shi En Mei, and without the bread earner, their friends said "the mother will face tremendous hardships in raising the kids."

According to the source, Shi Weihan was ordained as a pastor some time after he accepted Jesus as his personal Saviour in 1990.

During his missionary work, the source said, he found that many Christians lacked materials for true Christianity, and these believers are often harassed and confused by some cults. In order to cultivate the right faith in them and enhance their spiritual level, spreading the Gospel through words is the best way. That's why Shi Weihan printed the Bibles and other religious books with money donated by other believers."

According to Christian teachings, "spreading the Gospel is a great mission Jesus Christ issued after He was resurrected and ascended to heaven."

"Jesus commands His believers to spread the Gospel to every corner of the earth. Therefore, the believers also regard the spreading of Gospel as their joy." it added.

The defense counsel also said several confessions during the investigation on this case and in the court; Shi Weihan has stated that printing religious books were not for the purpose of gaining illegal profits. Instead, it was totally for the practice of his own faith that he printed these books.

Tian Hongxia, another defendant in this case can also prove this fact. On the other hand, as for the claim that the defendant obtained illegal profits, this lacks evidence which has not been confirmed, it stated.

The Statement of Defense for Shi Weihan and the Bill of Indictment can be found at ChinaAid website at www.chinaaid.com

Friends of Pastor Shi and his family have requested Christians around the world to pray that the pastor's health would be protected, wisdom for the family regarding whether to appeal the conviction or not, favor for a possible medical parole and God's peace and favor in these difficult circumstances.

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