A Chinese Christian teacher who was once imprisoned for her faith said she was forced to flee China after Communist Party officials accused her of using a curriculum based on the Bible and sharing her faith with students.
On Monday, the Jubilee Campaign hosted a U.N. Human Rights Council webinar, titled “China Bans Faith for All Children,” which focused on the testimonies of victims and survivors of China’s crackdown on religion.
Esther, a former kindergarten teacher in China, shared with attendees how she became a Christian after surviving a devastating car accident in 2007. She joined a church in Guangzhou that same year and later took a job at Woodland kindergarten, where she was surrounded by other Christians.
Though the school’s program was influenced by the Christian ideals of humility and joy, it was not a “Christian program,” Esther said.
While working at the school, Esther also helped lead Christian summer camps for teens and adults. Around this time, an education department official summoned Esther and encouraged her to give up her faith to focus on her work as a kindergarten teacher.
“They asked me to stop my involvement with church and also asked me to not involve any university students in our outreach,” she said.
Though the next couple of years were relatively “peaceful,” Esther said she received phone calls from time to time from the education department urging her to stop planning religious camps for children and inquiring about the kindergarten.
In 2014, Esther was again summoned by educational bureau authorities who interrogated her for 24 hours to find out whether she was teaching her students Christianity or using Christian materials. Authorities then raided her kindergarten classroom to search for religious or “illegal” materials.