26th August, 2012
One of the "most significant leaders" in China's Christian history, Sun Yi-yin, also known 'Freddie Sun', has died of cancer at the age of 76.
Sun, who spent a decade in Communist prisons for his Christian faith, "has gone to be with the Lord whom he loved and served," said Bob Finley, founder and chairman of the Christian Aid Mission (CAM) group, which supported the Chinese Christian.
The devoted Christian, who "succumbed to cancer on Wednesday evening", leaves behind 154 Bible institutes and missionary training centers he helped to set up since 1992 inside China, some in every province including Tibet, he added.
Over 60,000 graduates of these schools, serving as native missionaries, "have won more souls to Christ and planted more churches in China than did all the foreign missionaries combined who served in China between 1807 and 1949," Mr Finley's group explained.
The work of the former university professor, which also involved a massive network of house churches, helped the Chinese church to grow to over 100 evangelical Christians, according to CAM estimates.
Sun's activities will be continued by his wife, Dorothy Chang, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
"Dorothy, who had been confined for 20 years at forced labor in Communist prisons, served as Sun's co-worker "in starting and providing support for Bible institutes in every province of China," CAM said.
"Together they traveled more than 25,000 miles inside China every year from 1992 until 2012."
Backed by US-based CAM, their Bible and missionary centers sent out native missionaries "to win millions of Chinese to Christ and plant tens of thousands of house churches throughout the country," CAM added.
"I believe history will show that..Sun's work in establishing and distributing financial support for 154 Bible institutes in China during the past 20 years has had a greater impact for the cause of Christ in that Communist country than that of any other single person or ministry," Mr Finley argued.
"When I left China in 1949 we estimated that there were less than half-a-million evangelical Christians in the entire country. Today there are more than one hundred million."
He said that "Most have been won to Christ by native missionaries working with local house churches throughout the country" who were educated at Sun's Bible institutes.
There was no immediate announcement about funeral arrangements. CAM said a special 'Memorial Fund in Memory of Freddie Sun' has been established for those who wish to contribute for the continuation of his Bible institutes in China.
Church groups and even Communist officials estimate there are at least as many as 130 million devoted Christians in Communist-run China, many of whom meet in underground house churches.
China's leadership officially only allows worship in the state-approved churches, but many Christians prefer to hold services outside government control, despite a reported government crackdown on these gatherings, according to rights groups.