A letter from Alice lin

My Father Is No Criminal.


For ten years, my family has lived with a secret. My father is a prisoner. But he is no criminal. 

In 2006 we thought we had lost him. My father, a naturalized U.S. citizen, disappeared while on a trip to Beijing. My father was a bi-vocational pastor, which meant that he worked to support our family while also shepherding small house churches in China. In early 2006 he applied to the Chinese government for a license to operate his ministry; just a few months later, he was gone.   

Two more years went by. During that time we discovered that my father had been falsely accused of contract fraud and was being held under house arrest. In 2008, he was imprisoned. His first message to us from jail was "Everything is fine.  God knows what he is doing, it is God's wish that I am here, there are many people inside who need to hear God's word.... Please don't worry, but only pray for me.  I will be back in the U.S. soon." Following a show trial in 2009, he was sentenced to life in prison. 

Throughout this time, my father maintained his innocence. For years afterwards Chinese officials—knowing they had no evidence of his guilt—tried to force him to sign false confessions. But my father refused to tell a lie.

I knew my father was no criminal, and that he had been targeted because of his work as a pastor. But my family and I feared that drawing attention to his situation could endanger his life. And so we kept quiet, praying for him every day and treasuring every message he sent. 

Ten long years went by. My father missed my brother’s college graduation. He missed my wedding. He missed the birth of his grandson. He celebrated his 60th birthday alone. 

Through all of this, my father’s faith held strong. With his beloved Bible in his hand, he viewed the prison as his mission field. He courageously shared his faith with fellow prisoners from over 30 nations, started a Sunday prayer meeting, and worked on a new translation of the Bible into Mandarin. 

But this February, something changed. For the first time, my father urged us to reach out for help. He asked us to have U.S. Ambassador Branstad, whom he has known since the 1990s, visit him in prison. And he sent us his Bible, the beloved book that had sustained him for ten long years. 

It was like a man who is living in the desert sending back his bottle of water.

I believe that in the darkness of that prison something very serious is happening to my father. So my family and I have decided to break our silence and ask for help. Would you help us shine a light and bring Pastor Lin home?   

~Alice Lin

My Father in 1984.

My Father in 1984.