One refugee's journey from jail to freedom

February 27, 1998

Editor's note: For the past year, we have kept the free refugees' circumstances private, at their request. But recently, the Wrights agreed to allow us to tell their story. In future issues, we hope to be able to tell about others who are free. Please use this information as an opportunity to remember them in prayer.

On January 11, 1996, David Wright was nearing the end of a long drive from Oregon to his home on the Central Coast. As he drove South on Highway 41 in Kings County, he flipped across his FM radio dial. When he reached 98.5, he stopped.

At that moment, about 60 miles away, Wang Luan Ying ("Ying") was in the Lerdo Detention Facility, marking day 950 of her incarceration. Three days later, a reporter would describe seeing her "haunted, stir-crazy eyes through the murky glass in the visiting room at the Lerdo jail, her face still thin and wan from her recent hunger strike." David's attention had been caught by a radio program which was explaining the plight of Ying and the other Chinese refugees. Providentially, he had flipped across the dial just in time to hear the six-minute program, "Voice For Life."

Later that day, David called Voice For Life to learn more about the refugees. Tim Palmquist had handled dozens of calls like this before, and would often select one of the refugees to be the recipient of letters from the caller. Providentially, he selected Ying. David began writing to Ying. Soon he was spending his weekends traveling to Lerdo--a 5-hour round-trip. For hours and hours every Saturday, David became acquainted with Ying through the glass of the visiting room. David began to assist Ying financially. He also helped to fight the Lerdo red tape which prevented Ying from having necessary dental work performed, and paid all of her dental charges.

It wasn't until late 1996 that David's intentions of marriage became clear. (Ying's husband had passed away over 10 years ago in China. After his death, she had been targeted by the government as an "excess birth guerilla" and experienced two forced abortions. Her three adult children continue to live in China.)

In December 1996, David became seriously ill, requiring emergency surgery. He was eventually released after weeks of hospitalization, but his recovery wouldn't be complete for months. Nevertheless, these stress-related health problems did not dissuade him from continuing to focus his concerns on Ying.

On Valentine's Day 1997, the unexpected news was announced: the Golden Venture refugees would be freed! Ying was released on February 27, 1997, after over 3½ years (1363 days) of incarceration. A few weeks later, David and Ying were united in marriage.

The Wrights now live in Oakland, where Ying works in a sewing factory and David is a computer programmer. Ying has finally been granted asylum.

David and Ying are now assisting Voice For Life in maintaining contacts with one of the refugees who was recently moved to the Oakland jail (providentially).

David and Ying would appreciate your continued prayers, as they both continue to face health problems.

Tim and Terri Palmquist, with Ying and David Wright, the day after Ying's release.

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