INDUSTRY, Maine — A local family breathed a sigh of relief when their daughter was released by Chinese officials after being detained this past week.
Sylvie Venter, 17, of Industry was detained in China for passing out Bibles and tracts.
She and three others faced long interrogations and surveillance but she since has been freed to return to Maine next week, her mother, Teresa Venter, said on Thursday.
Teresa Venter said the youths were detained and put under house arrest for nearly a week in the small town of Xining, a 20-hour train ride northwest of Beijing.
Relying on messages from friends with Internet access, Venter heard from her daughter Tuesday. She’s safe and on her way back to Beijing.
Venter said her daughter wrote, “I took a stand for Christ and would gladly do it again.”
The teen already wants to go back to minister to children and the people in the communist country.
Her parents, John and Teresa Venter, have relied on their faith and prayer the last few days, she said.
Growing up home-schooled, Sylvie Venter has attended a youth Bible school in Pennsylvania for short periods where friends told her about Dennis Green and his Life and Liberty Ministries in Virginia. Green has made eight trips to China to minister and bring tracts and Bibles to the people there.
The intention for this trip, Green notes on his website, is to “travel town-to-town for two weeks taking the Gospel to areas where it may not have been heard before. Some are predominately Muslim or Tibetan Buddhist.”
Each night they planned to distribute tracts under the cover of darkness, he wrote.
Sylvie prepared for the trip nightly by walking the road, carrying 50 pounds of books, her mother said.
She left Maine for Virginia on April 2 with a small carry-on for personal items and two changes of clothing. She also carried two large empty suitcases that were filled with 100 pounds of Bibles in Virginia.
Each of the participants on the mission trip carried an equal number of Bibles into the country. Traveling in groups of five, Green’s postings on the ministry website described a miraculous journey through Chinese customs, she said.
While officials at the airport checked each passenger before and after each of them, the five in Sylvie’s group walked right through customs, and none of them was checked. They then separated into smaller groups.
Green’s son in another group was able to get word back to the states about the four being detained.
Apparently they were caught the first night they arrived in Xining, were detained for a couple days and then the four were allowed to go back to their hotel but were watched and followed, she said.
Their passports were taken and each was interrogated alone for three hours the first night and eight hours the next day, Venter said.
“Sylvie must have done great,” she said. “She was able to share her testimony with the Chinese officials. It must be part of God’s plan.”
Teresa Venter got word Tuesday that Sylvie was safe and loved it there.
The Venters moved to Industry five years ago from Michigan and built a home in a rural part of the town. Sylvie is the oldest of five children, she said.