In Response to an Article on the Persecution of Falun Gong Practitioners in China

I read the other day about the pain
That you endure in some nightmarish place,
Removed from sight, where sadists made insane
By hatred press a jackboot in your face.

Dear neighbor, whose sad face I cannot see,
Who languishes in darkness far away,
My kinsman in our shared humanity,
Your groans I hear, and for your plight I pray.

Behind locked doors in corridors where cries
Of anguish rise, unheeded by cruel men,
You suffer, hidden from all caring eyes,
Bound by conviction in a lion’s den.

For conscience’ sake held captive, there you cling
To hope of liberation from your pain,
The hope that after weeping you will sing
Once more, like sunbeams shining after rain.

Although we may not have the same beliefs,
I’m bound to you by all the things we share:
Our human dignity, life’s joys and griefs,
The sacred image that our twin souls bear.

We share the same unalienable rights
To life, to freedom, and to the pursuit
Of happiness through all our days and nights;
And none may from these rights our lives uproot.

For God, the Sovereign King, whom all must fear
Bestows these rights on men before the state
And cautions kings to keep within their sphere
That men may worship God alone as great.

He gives to magistrates a fearsome sword
To carry out their mission as He deigns,
To punish wrong and righteous deeds reward,
That men may live in peace as justice reigns.

But when those called to govern go astray,
Perverting justice, trampling on men’s lives,
Abusing lethal instruments to slay
The innocent, then God pulls out His knives.

He goes to war against those evil men,
Those faithless shepherds, who like wolves devour
Their own poor sheep, defenseless in their pen;
God runs them through in one triumphant hour!

That blesséd hour—alas!—has not yet struck,
For China still lies under that black shade
Of vile oppression, vampire lords that suck
The blood of victims in dark ditches laid.

Until that hour arrives, my hapless friend,
I’ll pray for your release and cry aloud
Against the crimes of Communists who send
Into the house of pain, a swelling crowd—

A crowd made up of all who won’t embrace
Their atheistic vision of the world,
Diverse in creed, whom Communists would chase
To Hades’ brink, in hell’s fire to be hurled.

Like demons, they torment those who won’t bow
To Chairman Xi’s imperious decrees;
But they should fear, as growing numbers now
Cry out for China’s freedom on their knees.

Each blow that you receive upon your back
Sends tremors through all freedom-loving lands;
Each tortured cry while stretched upon the rack
Moves men to rise, as Lady Justice stands.

Each shock that drives you out of your right mind
Is like a lightning bolt sent from above
To jolt awake complacent humankind
And fill our hearts with pity, passion, love.

We cannot bask in freedoms we deny
To others—that would be a grievous sin;
Integrity demands we fight and cry
For all who are oppressed, their rights to win.

The Lord I serve has taught me to respect
The freedom of all men to speak their mind
And worship as conviction would direct;
This is the will of God for all mankind.

We must protest when Caesar acts outside
His lawful jurisdiction and demands
Of men the type of loyalty denied
To all but God, whose rule unrivalled stands.

So as you suffer, know Ill intercede
To speak out for your welfare and your right
To plough your plot of earth and plant your seed
And reap your harvest by sweet freedom’s light.

Let shouts of freedom finally resound
Instead of dreadful cries of endless pain,
As torture chambers crumble to the ground,
And shed blood washed away by cleansing rain.

As China’s trembling multitudes increase,
May calls for justice ring on every hand
Until the helpless captives find release
And sing for joy throughout this ancient land.



Martin Rizley grew up in Oklahoma and in Texas, and has served in pastoral ministry both in the United States and in Europe. He is currently serving as the pastor of a small evangelical church in the city of Málaga on the southern coast of Spain, where he lives with his wife and daughter. Martin has enjoyed writing and reading poetry as a hobby since his early youth.

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8 Responses

  1. Karyn Cook

    The object of the written word, especially poetry, is to touch one’s mind and heart. This poem does both and, for me, brings tears and prayers. Very well done. Marantha!

    • Martin Rizley

      Thanks, Karyn, for letting me know that the poem impacted you on different levels, and even evoked “tears and prayers.” That is most encouraging to know!

  2. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    This is an admirably crafted poem that brings to glaring light the heinous acts committed by the CCP and the significance of standing up for freedom. The images you stoke tug at the heart and demand to be heard. I particularly like:

    But when those called to govern go astray,
    Perverting justice, trampling on men´s lives,
    Abusing lethal instruments to slay
    The innocent, then God pulls out His knives.

    It speaks of the power of the Almighty against an overbearing government, and gives hope to those who feel so helpless in the face of their atrocities.

    Often, poetry reveals what no newspaper article ever could or would. This poem says everything. Thank you, Martin.

  3. Margaret Coats

    This poem is well-spoken in regard to our “shared humanity” with those who follow the practice of Falun Gong for spiritual improvement. It is not a practice that in any way separates Christians from other theists in relation to human rights. These rights are, as you say, God-given. The only displeasing line of the poem is its indifferentist idea that God wills “worship as [human] conviction would direct.” Rather, English poet and pastor John Keble asked pastors not only to pray, but to rebuke sinners asking for sacramental pardon:

    If censure sleep, will absolution hold?
    Will the great King affirm their acts of grace
    Who careless leave to cankering rust and mould
    The flaming sword that should the unworthy chase
    From His pure Eden? O beware, lest vain
    Their sentence to remit, who never dare retain.

    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you for your feedback. I understand how the “displeasing line” you mention is open to misunderstanding, although I tried to avoid misunderstanding by putting a semi-colon after the third line of the stanza in question and beginning the forth line with the word “this,” not “which.” “This” refers back to the word “respect” in line 1. I am saying that it is “God’s will for mankind” that men respect the God-given CIVIL right of their neighbors to worship God in accordance with their personal convictions without being coerced by the STATE to worship God in a particular manner or in accordance with a particular Creed imposed by the state under threat of civil penalty (fines, imprisonment, torture, execution).

      An altogether different question is whether men have a SPIRITUAL right before GOD to reject the light of truth that God shines on them by His Word to educate, enlighten, and correct the misshapen dictates of conscience by which they are bound in conscience to wrong beliefs and wrong practices. Of course men do not have spiritual freedom before God to ignore or reject the teaching of His Word, but that is a different issue than that of their civil freedom before the state.

      Sadly, some of the most atrocious deeds in history have been done by people acting with the consent of a benighted, misinformed and misshapen conscience. Spiritually before God, therefore, men are responsible to receive the light God shines on their conscience through His Word to correct any falsehoods or lies that have misguided and misinformed their conscience. Spiritually before God, the only worship that He receives as acceptable is that offered “in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

      But the issue of what men have a spiritual right to do before God is separate from that of men’s civil right before the state. Basically I am saying that it is God’s will that all men everywhere respect the civil right of their neighbors to worship God free from state coercion in a manner dictated by the civil authority. The enforcement of true religion, in other words, is not one of the duties that falls under “Caesar’s” jurisdiction. It is to be left to God’s own jurisdiction as a matter between the individual and God– a matter which may be subject to church discipline, but not to civil penalty.

  4. Margaret Coats

    Thanks for your considered response to my comment above. Let me approach it differently by saying that I found no objection to your stanza containing the “diverse in creed” line, for the poem says nothing there to imply that God accepts all creeds as equally valid. When, however, the poem says, “This is the will of God for all mankind” (an extremely strong statement), it presumes to speak in the voice of God, based on the three preceding lines of personal experience. This reads not as a strong point, but as a weak argument. I’ll suggest that the poem doesn’t need this stanza for the case against government oppression, and might be better without it. If it is omitted, there are two satisfactory stanzas about what we other human beings must do, followed by a personal promise to speak out, which you in fact accomplish. There is of course no need to respond to my suggestion. Thanks for simply considering it.

    • Martin Rizley

      You may be right that the poem would lose nothing and be improved without that stanza. The reason I gave such a lengthy reply to your first comment is that I was senstive to the fact that this stanza could easily be misinterpreted to suggest a divine “indifferentism,” as you put it, regarding matters of truth in worship– which I obviousy do not believe to be the case. The unspoken context behind that stanza is Jesus´ teaching on giving to Caesar what is Caesar´s and to God what is God´s, which I understand to mean that there are certain things that God has not placed within the realm of Caesar´s jurisdiction, among which is the right to dictate the content and form of men´s worship. If Jesus is Lord of all mankind, then that would make this denial to Caesar of the right to use coercion in matters of worship “the will of God for all mankind.” Thank you once again for your comments.


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