|Pastor Jin Tianming|
The cab stopped at the gate of the residential compound
After I made a right turn, walked on a cement sidewalk and entered the elevator room on the first floor, I pressed 9 button for the 9th floor, someone immediately began to examine us with an investigative look. I avoided that suspicious eye-contact and stared at the door of the elevator. Finally, the elevator came to the 9th floor. As soon as I came out of the elevator, I was stunned as I was already facing a desk with an appointment book with visitors’ names and their IDs. Obviously, this place has been turned into a formal mini-office and I found this both funny and annoying. A policewoman stood at the side of desk and was ready for the confrontation. When she saw my eyesight turned right in search of Tianming’s door, she seemed to know that we were visitors instead of tenants on the 9th floor. So the questioning started this way:
I made an effort to smile a little and hesitated whether she required us to show her the identifications. “I am a friend of Tianming’s family and I come from outside the town. I’d like to visit them in passing. I’ve been here before.”
Before is before and now is now. No one can pass here without signing in. This was followed by a banging sound and a registration book was thrown before me. I took a deep breath and exhaled it with some efforts. I prayed silently: “My Lord. Since I’ve come here from so far away, I should cooperate with them till I can see him and have a good chat.” I took out the purse but my hand didn’t seem to do what I wanted it to do. It trembled incessantly as if I were a criminal. I knew the person under the house arrest is Tianming, not myself. A sister who went with me was quick in handing out her ID and after a few nice words, she managed to sooth down the policewoman’s temper. The sister’s leisurely manner and composure were contagious and I suddenly felt we were in the same body of Christ.
For Tianming who has always been confident of himself, seeing so many brothers and sisters of Shouwang Church being persecuted when they are detained, interrogated, released each week and seeing so many people forced to move or fired from jobs, it is more miserable and harder to endure than if he experienced these himself. Now, the shepherds are separated from the flocks of sheep. The sheep are being beaten but the shepherds cannot stand out to fend off the blows. It is hard to describe in words how heart-wrenching it is to see all this happening around him. Still, he has to endure all the misunderstandings. If it were not for the Great Shepherd, it would be hard to imagine how he can possibly make it till today. Is it because God thinks the tests are still not enough that he let Tianming’s mother suffer from the terminal disease for which she can’t find a doctor for the cure. When Tianming wants to visit his mother, he has to apply for the approval. Mother being in the critical condition is doubtlessly another disaster to Tianming and it is testing this tough guy to see if he can get over these difficulties. There is a gaunt look on his face and we know he has not had a good sleep for many days as he has been waiting for the approval. Despite all these, he still doesn’t forget to send his greetings to the people he knows and read out all their names with perfectly accurate names of the places with such profound feelings and aspirations. Such a person who aspires for freedom and for flying high is now confined in this high-rise apartment unit of only 56 square meters. He longs for reuniting with his loved ones and walking shoulder to shoulder with his congregation. He wants to devote his life to the church and to the Chinese people he loves so much.
Tianming even sympathizes very much with the police officers and the DSPS agents who work in the corridors. He said: “At night, there are many mosquitoes in the corridors and the bad smell is choking. It would be so good if he could chat with these people or spread the Gospel to them as his brothers and sisters do to the security guards at their doors. Or it would be so good if he could sing some hymns for them.” Unfortunately, he is a senior pastor and is not allowed to step over the threshold and there is no way he can express his loving care to the guards.
The two minutes of visit was so brief and the woman police officer stood by me in all professional manners, so much so that it was hard for us to speak our minds freely. I felt a little relieved that Enping is now allowed to go to the supermarket in their residential compound to buy something they can take back to