The daughter of an imprisoned Christian pastor in China is crying out for help after finding out that her father is being severely tortured in jail.
Zhang Huixin told ChinaAid that her father, Nanle County Church pastor Zhang Shaojie, is struggling to stay alive after Chinese authorities ordered prison guards to torture him using various methods, including starvation and sleep deprivation.
The pastor has been languishing in Xinxiang Prison in Henan Province for nearly four years now as part of his 12-year sentence imposed in 2013 after he was accused of "swindling" and "assembling a crowd to disrupt public order, said Zhang Huixin, who currently lives in the U.S. under her English name, Esther Zhang.
Esther Zhang said they started torturing her father when the latter moved to appeal his case in August 2014. The appeal was unsuccessful.
"My father applied to file an appeal," she said, "but the government officials said they would not process the appeal unless he would plead guilty. They are treating him harshly in order to bend him."
Her father's attempt to appeal his case angered local Chinese authorities who then ordered the head of the Henan prison to torture him, Esther Zhang said.
"They cruelly torture my father," she said. "He's unable to see the sun during the day. He's deprived of sleep for 24 hours at a time. The prison gives him only one steamed bun a day and intentionally starves him. According to people who have been released from that prison, my father is barely alive, suffering both mentally and physically."
Zhang Shaojie's sister, Zhang Cuijuan, said she saw with her own eyes the effects of torture on her brother. "He was in a terrible mental state. His eyes burned from sleep deprivation. He said that he is forbidden to sleep," she said.
Zhang Shaojie is being persecuted even though his church, Nanle County Church, is an officially sanctioned branch of China's government-run Protestant Churches, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement.
There has been little respite in the persecution of Christians in China. Last month, Chinese authorities demolished the Shuangmiao Christian Church under construction in Shangqiu, Henan, The Christian Post previously reported, citing ChinaAid as source. The church was leveled to the ground, witnesses said.
Not content with the church demolition, the police officials also beat dozens of parishioners and arrested some 40 of them, including Shuangmiao Christian Church pastor Zhang Di and the church's vice director, Lü Yuexia.
But despite the continuing crackdown on believers in China, the growth of the Christian faith continues to rise, with one pastor reporting that as many as 100,000 Chinese becoming new followers of Christ every year, as CP previously reported.