|Pastor Zhang while he was still in prison.|
Zhang is still recovering from severe health problems after completing his full sentence on August 31, 2011. He was immediately admitted to a hospital for 15 days where doctors monitored Zhang’s high blood pressure and diabetes (for more information, click here).
In early December 2004 Zhang disappeared, and eventually, the Chinese government admitted they had him in custody. Zhang was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison for possessing and using a forged passport — which typically carries a six-month sentence. People and organizations around the world pressured Chinese Communist leaders to release Zhang. Thousands of individuals wrote letters and prayed while multiple organizations worked to secure his release.
“I am happy that you and others tried to arrange for my release, but in one way, I am happy that you failed,” Zhang told a VOM contact in China. “You almost made a big mistake. If you had been successful, there would be no church in that prison today.”
In a recent interview, a VOM contact asked about Zhang’s most recent prison experience:
VOM: Uncle Z, most people I know have the same question for you — How could you endure prison for so many years?
Zhang: First let me say that while I was in prison, I remembered our friendship and the times you helped our church. I could feel inside my heart that you were doing something to try to help me. Also, I believed many people and organizations and governments in the West were speaking out about my situation.
To answer your question, I want to remind you that in my life, I have become accustomed to living in prison. This is the fifth time I have been in prison. So now, you see, I have spent one fourth of my life in prison and in some ways I have needed to adapt, to become accustomed to prison.
The second answer to this question is that the entire time I was in prison, I knew that many Christian brothers and sisters were praying for me constantly. So I had strength to overcome.
Finally, I want to remind you that our church movement has for years sent out missionaries to the unreached people groups of China and more recently to the Muslim peoples of the world. The missionaries leave their homes to go to a new environment. They preach the gospel in the area where they are called to preach. You have followed the call of God to China. I am the same as you. I consider myself and I treat myself as one who is a missionary. The difference is that God called me to preach to the prisoners.
For the full interview, click here.