In August 2022, Pastor Geng Zejun was sentenced to 15 months in prison for “organising illegal gatherings”.
Despite opposition from Chinese Communist Party officials, the church led by Pastor Geng refused to join the government-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement and was therefore deemed illegal. In the months following his sentencing, Pastor Geng experienced health problems and his family was banned from visiting him.
However, recent reports indicate that fellow inmates, and even prison guards, are treating the pastor with considerable respect.
In the prison, those issued a red vest are required to work the night shift. However, Pastor Geng alone has been given a green vest, exempting him from conducting any night work. People in the prison have come to refer to the revered Christian man as ‘Pastor’ and frequently approach him for discussions and to ask his advice.
The pastor’s family members continue to seek permission to visit him, even though they have been banned from doing so since his initial arrest on 5 December 2021. At first, pandemic restrictions were used as an excuse to keep them away, but the authorities have since simply cited “rules and laws” as their reason.