The persecution of Chinese Christians after the outbreak of the Korean War raised important questions about faith and politics in a state-centric society. This article examines the experience and memory of three Protestant religious prisoners in the Maoist era: Watchman Nee (Ni Tuosheng 倪柝声), who founded the Christian Assembly (jidutu juhuichu 基督徒聚会处) or Little Flock (xiaoqun 小群) in early twentieth-century China; Epaphras Wu (Wu Weizun 吳维僔), an active Little Flock member; and Robert Huang (Huang Zhaojian 黃兆坚), who organized Seventh-Day Adventist activities in 1950s Shanghai. The persecution stories of these religious leaders entered Chinese Christian hagiography, providing Chinese Christians with a shared cultural resource that transcended denominational and theological differences. Central to my investigation are questions about how Christians reacted to Maoism, how they came to terms with the traumatizing experience of incarceration as part of a broader life struggle, and how Chinese churches made sense of these persecution narratives to assert their faith and agency. A closer look at the history of these religious prisoners enables us to capture faith-based resistance at an individual level, and to contextualize the particularities of each persecution in the Maoist period.
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