Family members of imprisoned Chinese pastor Shaojie Zhang have escaped China to the U.S.
Zhang "Yunyun" Huixin, the eldest daughter of Shaojie, her husband Sun Zhulei and their 1-year-old daughter Sun "Jesse" Jiexi were rescued from China on July 14 with the assistance of China Aid Association
Zhang was charged with "fraud" and "gathering a crowd to disturb public order” and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
According to Christian Today, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) Zhang was targeted because of his faith.
"The harsh sentence reflects that Chinese authorities are expanding harassment and persecution usually aimed at underground house churches by going after officially sanctioned religious institutions," the group said in a statement.
In April, when Yunyun tried to submit a visa application at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, she was thrown out. However, following her father's sentence, Yunyun and her family were given advance parole authorization by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
When Yunyun, Zhulei and Jesse attempted to fly to the U.S. from Beijing on June 23, Chinese security officials blocked them, citing national security risks. Officers from the Nanle County Public Security Bureau and the Henan Public Security Bureau were also present in the airport, monitoring the family.
The family landed in Dallas, Texas, Monday, July 14. The First Baptist Church of Midland will provide support for the family's settlement.
"Many anonymous heroes helped them along the way," said Bob Fu, president of China Aid Association.
Publication date: July 17, 2014