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This 34-year-old Chinese Christian woman was arrested on 18 June for “spreading rumours and inciting to disturb the social order” after distributing Bibles on the street. She died the same afternoon in police custody, according to a report in China’s state-run Legal Daily newspaper.

Tan Dewei, Zongxiu’s mother-in-law, was arrested at the same time but later released. Dewei told reporters that Zongxiu was repeatedly kicked and struck by police during her interrogation. When police released her body to relatives they noticed that it was bruised and bloodstained. But the police told them that Zongxiu, a farmer from China’s south-western Uizhou province, had suddenly been taken ill. Her husband and other villagers said that Zongxiu did most of the family’s farm work and she was in good health before the arrests.

God’s book of “grace” is just like his book of nature; it is his thoughts written out. This great book, the Bible, this most precious volume is the heart of God, made legible; it is the gold of God’s love, beaten out into gold leaf, so that therewith our thoughts might be plated, and we also might have golden, good and holy thoughts concerning him.

John Bunyan (1628-88)

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.