(Editor’s Note: The following is the second in a series of historical columns written by TheTimes President and founder and River of Time Museum founder Alan Cruikshank. It is about the history of Fountain Hills. They are a part of the Town’s 30-50 celebration of the Fountain being turned on for the first time 50 years ago and the 30th anniversary of the incorporation of the town.)
One of the last stories reporter Barb Charzuk did before she retired on Dec. 1 was about a Fountain Hills woman being detained in Shanghai, China.
The woman, Sue Jiang, is a massage therapist and owner of Asian Natural Healing on Parkview Avenue. She and her son, Dawei, flew to Shanghai in August to attend the funeral of Jiang’s father. When they landed on Aug. 29, in Shanghai, Jiang was escorted off the plane. She was traveling on a passport under her legal name of Shiping Peterson. They also took her phone.
She reportedly is confined in the Shanghai Detention Center.
Located about 20 miles outside the city, the facility houses serious criminals and foreigners suspected of infractions.
After a couple of weeks with no information, Dawei learned that his mother is being held for a “crime of provocation.” He returned to Fountain Hills, where friends are helping him out financially.
Very little information on Jiang’s status or condition has been provided.
Jiang is not the first Fountain Hills resident to be detained in a foreign country prison.
We now turn the clock back to March 1995 when Pastor David Frech was arrested along with eight other American preachers and one from Singapore. Frech was the pastor at that time of New Life Christian Fellowship on Fountain Hills Boulevard.
The group was on a mission in a remote eastern region of India.
The arrest came following the conclusion of a healing rally crusade that turned violent. They were released after a week of incarceration.
Some of the “charges” filed against the ministers were attempted murder, unlawful assembly, rioting and causing injury to deter public servants from duty.
“None of these were true,” Frech said. “They were all fabrications and lies.”
Frech said during the first three days of incarceration that the ministers endured moves during the middle of the night to four different jails, each deeper into the jungle.
“We didn’t sleep at all those first few days,” he said.
One jail where they were detained was comprised of 90 percent convicted murderers, Frech said.
Eventually the prisoners were taken to a cell in Behrampur, where conditions improved somewhat.
“We at least could get some sleep,” Frech said.
He said the group was never separated, and he had not known the other ministers before this trip.
He prayed a lot in prison.
The announcement about their release came in the form of a fax sent to New Life from Christian Solidarity International and Gospel to the Unreached Millions, the sponsoring organization for the mission gone awry.
Frech’s wife, Tracy, also received confirmation from the consulate’s office in India, which had been maintaining close contact with the situation.
The story was internationally covered by major newspapers and radio and television stations world-wide.
And it was covered by The Times Editor Michael Scharnow. Imagine a major international news story occurring in our own back yard.
Frech was greeted at Sky Harbor International Airport by his family, an estimated 150 people from his Church and a Valley media contingent.
He added, “The Bible and scriptures are more alive to me now. Faith is worth living and dying for.”