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Responses to the Gospel by the Chinese Communist Government

Posted Mar 28, 2023 by Danutasn Brown in Christian History
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Responses to the Preaching of the Gospel by the Chinese Communist Government in The Man Who Couldn’t Be Killed (Audiobook here)

Quitting Job Because of Refusal to Take Bribes

Finally his boss turned to the last page of his newspaper, looked through his horn-rimmed spectacles, and said, “How are you, Old Wong?”

“Good! How are you?” Mr. Wong smiled.

“I’m so busy now. So many important things to do!” He put down his newspaper and joined Mr. Wong at the table. “Cigarette?”

“No, thank you. I quit.”

“Is something wrong with your lungs?”

Mr. Wong didn’t reply.

“In case you change your mind, I’ll put the pack on the table. Why are you smiling?”

Mr. Wong spat out a tea leaf. “I found a new Friend.”

His supervisor lighted another cigarette. “Who is he?”

“Jesus Christ.”

The supervisor laughed in disbelief, as if saying, “Did you find him on the street?”

Mr. Wong’s eyes sparkled as he replied to the laugh. “You may say I found Him among the loot on a quiet street in Shang-hai.”

“Jesus Christ isn’t alive!” The supervisor sneered. “Nobody’s seen him. He can’t be your friend.”

“I found two Bibles in a pharmacy when we Chinese were fighting the Japanese.” Mr. Wong sipped more tea. “I took them to my wife, who used the high-quality papermaking shoe patterns. Then I studied them and found that I have a Friend who care and who talks to me through His Scriptures.”

“Jesus is nothing but superstition. Christianity’s failed. It’s backward and feudal. The Bible’s full of Western lies that the imperialists use as an opiate to benumb the masses. China’s responsibility is to rid the country of the barbarian imperialists who pollute our soil. The Japanese foreign devils are gone, thanks to the red-headed foreign devils. Now we must be rid of them too! How can we ever free ourselves from the colonialists if we embrace their religion? Don’t you understand, Mr. Wong?” The Superior crushed his cigarette in the ashtray. [The irony is that the communism that the Chinese would wholeheartedly embrace is also western]

Mr. Wong poured some tea into his superior’s empty cup, then said bluntly, “I wish everyone in China knew Jesus, because He’s such a good Friend.”

Ignoring the comment, the superior raved on. “China’s future is either capitalism or socialism. Who’ll win? The Kuomintang of the Red Army – Nationalist President Chiang Kai-shek or the outlaw, Mao Tse-tung, and his peasant army? [note: The Chinese Civil War ended in 1949 with the Communists winning and the Nationalists moving to Taiwan] The Kuomintang’s corruption will cause the Nationalist government to fail. Ever since the White Terror massacre, Chiang Kai-shek lost his mandate. It’s just a matter of time. Personally, I like Mao’s sayings. If we follow the socialist road, we’ll reach utopia in China, and, ultimately, the whole world will come to us. Wait and see.” [notice how this sounds very much like Christian Millennialism, the belief that the whole world will become Christian. The whole world will hear the Gospel, Isaiah 60:3, but it will be largely rejected and then the end will come – not 1000 years of Christian theocratic peace]

Even though Mr. Wing realized his boss might be a Communist sympathizer or even a double agent, he disagreed. “I believe Christianity can help China.”

“We Chinese cannot support the running dogs of the imperialists.” The superior’s tone was firm. “If you share your superstitious thoughts, you’ll become an enemy of the people and subvert their will.”

“Maybe the government can help the Chinese people through socialism,” Mr. Wong spoke earnestly, “but I think Jesus has the answer for my beloved China.” His superior’s laugh told Mr. Wong he’d said too much already, so he changed the subject to the purpose of his visit. “I don’t think I can work here anymore.”

Mr. Wong knew his resignation could be interpreted several ways: Either he thought the Kuomintang would lose, or he feared the Red Army would catch him when it took over the country. He’d be viewed as a rat fleeing from a burning house. Even if his boss didn’t understand, he chose to give the real reasons. “I’m not concerned about which government controls China. That’s determined by the Real God who lives in heaven. If I keep this job, I’ll be expected to take bribes.”

***

Power of Knowing the Constitution

As deacon, Mr. Wong knew that more than church members might come to worship. He welcomed both members and guests while keeping an eye out for troublemakers.

The doorbell rang. Mr. Wong answered it and escorted the new arrivals into the living room, where they found seats. As the congregation assembled, Mr. Wong noticed two younger men who looked suspicious. Were they spies or secret police? He didn’t refuse them admittance, hoping they might become interested in God after listening to the service…

During the announcements, one of the young stood and ranted, “The People’s benevolent democratic dictatorship will arrest you for your counterrevolutionary activities! Disband your antiparty ways!”

The church service stopped. Apprehension filled the members. Was he a government representative or merely an uneducated rabble-rouser, relishing the power he could wield under the Party’s name? Would he take the law into his hands and confiscate everything in the home that wasn’t nailed down? Mr. Wong, reaching for his copy of the constitution of the People’s Republic of China, pressed his way through the benches to where the young man stood. With a charming smile, he said, “We’re doing nothing wrong, my friend. As you can see, we’re merely gathering together to worship God.”

“You have no right to meet like this against the wishes of the Communists!”

“I’m not aware of that. We live in New China now,” Mr. Wong said. “Before liberation, the corrupt Kuomintang army broke laws and cheated the people. We Shanghainese admired the Red Army because it showed respect for people and laws. What we’re doing today is perfectly legal.”

“There’s a law!” the young man barked.

“What law?”

“Marxism, Leninism, and Mao Tse-tung thought declare that religion is the opiate of the people,” the young man expounded. “Meeting in this assembly is unlawful. I know the law!”

“You don’t know the law,” Mr. Wong said bluntly. He pulled out his copy of the constitution and opened it. “Listen to this. Article 35 of the constitution says that the citizens of the People’s Republic enjoy freedom of assembly, and article 36 says we enjoy freedom of religion.” Pointing to the Chinese characters, he quoted, “‘No state organ, public organization, or individual may compel citizens to believe in or not to believe in any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in or do not believe in any religion. The state protects normal religious activities.’”

All eyes focused on the young man. He studied the characters for a long time. Then he looked up, beaming. “We have a law. You shouldn’t meet in your home. I’m reading from Article 36: ‘No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order!’”

No one moved. They dreaded what the man might do next.

“Let me see that.” Mr. Wong reached for the constitution. “Yes, that’s what it says, but we’re in a private home, so how can we be disrupting public order? I’m reading now from article 39: ‘The home of citizens of the People’s Republic of China is inviolable.’” Showing the young man where he’d finished reading, Mr. Wong declared, “The government can do nothing against us as long as we practice our own religion in our homes quietly.”

Mr. Wong prayed, asking his Friend Jesus to impress the young man’s heart, realizing he might be a judas who’d report him to the authorities.

Abruptly, the young man thrust the constitution at Mr. Wong. “I didn’t know,” he mumbled. Without another word, he turned to go. Tension left the room with him.

***

End of the Prophecies Seen as Threat to Government

“Old Wong, you’re guilty of harboring bourgeois liberalization literature,” a policeman accused. “We need proof for the People’s Court.” They rummaged through the meager belongings under the bed – mostly shoes, books, and letter. One of them held up Mr. Wong’s Old and New Testaments. “Where’d you get these?”

Mr. Wong told the story about the two Bibles in the pharmacy.

“Why didn’t you just leave them where you found them?” the policeman asked. “Didn’t you know they contain evil Western propaganda?”

“My wife needed the fine paper to make shoe patterns. Later I read them, aided by a long-distance study course, and Jesus became my best Friend.”

The police chief scoffed, “This book is full of superstition.”

“The Bible tells the truth.”

“That’s feudalistic nonsense!” The chief raised his voice. “You should be studying Chairman Mao’s sayings. Why don’t you have his four red volumes prominently displayed?”

Mr. Wong said nothing. A policeman began searching through the family trunk and pulled out a notebook full of newspaper clippings. He handed it to the chief, who glanced at a few pages. “These are forbidden.” Why do you keep them?”

“They fulfill the predictions from the Old and New Testament of signs of the end of the world.”

“What signs?”

“Earthquakes, children turning against their parents, parents turning against their children, wars and rumors of wars, plagues, pestilence – ”

“Enough! Tell me, how will the world end?”

“My Friend Jesus will return and take all His children home to live with Him forever in heaven.” [note: humans will so destroy themselves that Jesus return will be to save us from ourselves]

“You lie!” the police chief shouted. “You don’t want Jesus to return – you want Chiang Kai-shek to return! Admit it!”

“I’m looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ because I want to see my Friend.”

“Confess! We’ll be easy on you if you confess your crimes!”

“I freely confess that I’m a Christian eagerly awaiting Jesus’ return.”

“You’re not a Christian. You work for the Kuomintang in Taiwan Province!” The police chief spat on the floor. “You’re a spy!”

“I’m not a spy.”

“You lie! We know about you. You’ve got connections with the Kuomintang, because you work in their police force.”

“I resigned my guard duty at the tower when I became a Christian.”

“No doubt you did so in order to go underground.”

“Not so. I resigned because a Christian cannot accept bribes.”

“You’re as clever as a snake, but the People’s Court will see through your shallow lies.” The chief held up the notebook with the newspaper clippings. “This reactionary notebook is evidence. Without the Communist party, there’s no New China! You want the end of the world come – which means the end of New China – therefore you are antiparty!” He turned to his men. “Arrest him!”

***

Thanking God is seen as Taking Respect Away from Government

Mr. Wong is sent to a labor camp in Western China, where he will be for 20 years.

For breakfast each morning, the guards lined up the prisoners in front of their niches. They squatted as the guards served them steamed rolls and cooked greens harvested from nearby fields. Mr. Wong thought mealtime was an opportune time for witnessing. He hoped his fellow inmates would ask him about his Friend Jesus. Like his hero Daniel, who prayed openly three times daily, Mr. Wong determined to do the same. When the guards handed him his steamed roll, Mr. Wong set his plate on the ground, bowed his head, closed his eyes, and thanked God for his meager meal. When he opened his eyes, he discovered his steamed roll and vegetables had vanished.

“Looking for something?” the inmate next to him said.

“My food’s gone.”

“Did you eat it?”

“No.”

“What’s the problem here?” A guard came up to Mr. Wong.

“My steamed roll and vegetables are gone.”

“What happened?”

“I closed my eyes to thank the Real God for food,” Mr. Wong explained. “When I opened them, my food had disappeared.”

“Come with me, Criminal Wong.” Mr. Wong followed the guard up the dirt steps that led outside the cave. He saw his vegetables crushed into the ground. The roll had dirty footprints stamped on it. He couldn’t eat the vegetables, but the roll was salvageable.

“Pick it up!”

Mr. Wong obeyed. He followed the guard back down the burrow. “Do you know why this happened, Criminal Wong? Your superstition angered a prisoner. He despised you because you thanked a god who does not exist for the food the government issued you.” Everyone heard the guard’s loud accusations.

“Your God didn’t give you the food – your government did! I’m very disappointed in your ungratefulness, Criminal Wong. Your kind government takes care of the Christians and Muslims in the camp. The Muslims get their special food with enough oil and clean vegetables. They show appreciation for our great favor of kindness by kneeling at our feet and kissing our hands. Why don’t you thank your government instead of your so-called Real God? When a prisoner saw your ingratitude toward the Party, he thought you didn’t deserve to eat, so he dashed outside and stomped on your steamed roll. Learn your lesson, and give up your superstition!”

“My Friend Jesus made it possible for the government to serve us this food,” Mr. Wong answered. “Everything belongs to Him, even the cattle on a thousand hills!”

“The cooks gave you this food,” the guard snapped.

Hoping he might get another ration, Mr. Wong looked forlornly at his crushed steamed roll coated with dirt. “Eat it!” the guard ordered. “We have no more steamed rolls today. Eat, or starve!” A few inmates laughed. Mr. Wong stuck the filthy steamed roll in his mouth and started chewing. The bland dough stuck on the roof of his mouth, and grit and dirt crunched in his teeth, but he swallowed it all.

At his next meal, Mr. Wong boldly bowed his head again, closed his eyes, and thanked the Real God for his food. Again his teamed roll was missing.

“Are you persisting in your superstitions?” a guard growled. “You’re in prison for reeducation, to learn from your gracious government, but you stubbornly refuse to be taught. Go get your roll.”

Mr. Wong retrieved his roll, stepped back down into the cave (They had dug a living space underground and built a camp around in the barren landscape of Tsinghai Province in Western China, where Wong had been taken from Tilanqiao Prison outside Shang-hai, the “Alcatraz of the Orient.”), and ate without complaining…

After six months of eating smashed food, one day Mr. Wong opened his eyes after saying grace and discovered his steamed roll on his plate untouched. He closed his eyes again and thanked his Friend for delivering him from persecution. He could bless his food in peace. Subsequent meals were also left alone. Maybe both guards and inmates had decided there was nothing they could do. How long must he wait before someone would ask him about his Friend Jesus?

***

Keeping Sabbath Seen as Lazy, so Sabbath Keeper Must Make Sure to Work Extra Hard on other Days

“Criminal Wong, you were arrested for many reasons, but partly because you refused to work in your factory on Saturday; the People’s Court found you guilty and sent you here for reeducation. Have you learned nothing here? You’re still committing the same crimes! What does it take to free you from your superstitious shackles?”

“The government is very kind to spend time reeducating me. I’ve already learned much from you.” Mr. Wong smiled. “But as a true Christian, I cannot disobey the laws of the Real God.”

Frustrated, Supervisor Yen burst out, “You persist in breaking China’s laws?”

“Seventh-Day Adventists believe it’s their duty to obey the government – as long as it doesn’t go against God’s laws. If I have to sin against your government in order not to sin against God, I choose to break my government’s regulations!”

“Criminal Wong, you’re in a hard labor camp. In prison you must work. It’s your sentence. You have no choice.”

“I’ll gladly work six days a week, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Real God, who created everything, including you and me. I regret that my government’s regulation is contrary to the law of God.”

Amazed at the firmness and sincerity of Mr. Wong’s words, the supervisor determined to break his stubbornness. “I’m sure your so-called Real God would make an exception for criminals in hard labor camps who must work.” He shifted his tone to compassion. “We have priests available who could give you an absolution. I’ll arrange it for you.”

“A priest isn’t above God’s laws.”

Unwilling to lose face in front of the prisoners from Team 9, Supervisor Yen barked, “It’s my duty to free you from your religious opiate! There is no God – and you must learn to obey orders. The People’s government knows no exception. You’ll pay for your counterrevolutionary activities!” Turning to the other prisoners, he commanded, “If you’re loyal to Chairman Mao, beat Criminal Wong!”

The next Sabbath the persecution was repeated. The supervisor’s words varied, but the blows hurt just as much. The following week was almost the same, and this continued for many weeks. But Mr. Wong never broke the Sabbath, despite the weekly beatings. After six months, the beatings stopped and he was allowed to worship his Real God as he saw fit.

***

Law of God is Competition to Law of Government

Round and round Mr. Wong and Choi Gong-ding went, turning a large grindstone that crushed highland barley. More monotonous than strenuous, the work at the mill afforded an opportunity for Mr. Wong to talk one-on-one with prisoners about his Friend Jesus and the Ten Regulations [Chinese way of saying Commandments. I like it; it is like design law]. Remembering his success with Dr. Lai, he hoped he could witness to Inmate Choi.

As they toiled, Choi Gong-ding seemed more thoughtful than usual. What was going on in his mind? Mr. Wong wondered. Eventually, Mr. Choi revealed his concern. “My mother is a Christian, Old Wong. I’d like to learn more about the Bible and become a Christian like you.”

Overjoyed, Mr. Wong replied, “Do you know the Ten Regulations?” [Wong loved sharing the 10 Commandments, throughout the book he often tends to share them first before anything else]

“What are the Ten Regulations?”

Choi Gong-ding ha asked what Mr. Wong longed to hear. He recited them from memory and asked Inmate Choi to repeat them after him. Mr. Choi happily complied until he, too, could say all ten by heart. On future occasions, the two men continued studying Old and New Testaments. Mr. Wong supplied additional verses to memorize until Mr. Choi understood Christianity.

“Old Wong,” Inmate Choi said one day as they walked around the grindstone, “I’ve decided I want Jesus for my Friend. As His friend, I don’t want to do anything to displease Him, so I’m asking Him to help me refrain from breaking His Ten Regulations. Do you think He’ll do that for me?”

Hearing those words, Mr. Wong felt that his time in prison was doubly well spent. First the doctor had accepted Christ, and now a Christian mother’s dreams had come true. Smiling with inner joy, he assured Choi Gong-ding, “Heaven enjoys double happiness today. I’m sure your Friend Jesus will happily help you. But you must make an effort too.” Then he cautioned, “Old Choi, don’t forget, Jesus never promised that following Him would be easy. From now on, you’ll have to take up the sword and fight.”

“You’ve taught me already, Old Wong,” Mr. Choi replied as he poured highland barley into the millstone. “I’ve weighed everything carefully.”

Later in 1962, when Mr. Wong and three hundred other prisoners lined up in the cave for morning roll call and exercises, a guard grabbed one of the prisoners and pushed him to the front beside the supervisor. Mr. Wong’s heart sank as he recognized his friend, Choi Gong-ding. Had he, too, become a judas?

Suddenly, someone jerked Mr. Wong from behind and roughly escorted him to the front beside Inmate Choi. The three hundred pale, puffy-faced prisoners stared blankly at them. Guards called up two of the heftier inmates and directed them to stand on either side of Mr. Wong and Mr. Choi. Immediately, these prisoners shoved Wong’s and Choi’s heads downward and held them.

“Criminal Wong,” the supervisor barked, “did you think you could do anything without us knowing?”

“No.”

“Did you think you could talk without us overhearing?”

Mr. Wong made no reply.

“Criminal Choi!” The prisoner at Choi’s side yanked his hair. “Confess your conversation with Mr. Wong!”

“He taught me the Ten Regulations,” Inmate Choi mumbled.

“Speak up, Criminal Choi.” The hefty inmate holding Mr. Choi’s head looked in the direction of the guards and, seeing a slight smile of approval on the guard’s face, smacked the back of his head. “Tell everybody what he told you!”

Mr. Wong felt deeply pained to see his friend suffer, knowing he didn’t want to confess. Would the torture be too much for him to endure? As he watched Inmate Choi’s torment, he prayed that his friend wouldn’t weaken. After a brief, agonizing pause, Choi Gong-ding announced in a loud voice, “Criminal Wong told me about an old man with a long white beard named Moses who climbed up a mountain to talk to the Real God. When Moses met the Real God, he received a gift of two tablets of stone. With His own finger, the Real God had written onto them His Ten Regulations that – “

Interrupting, the supervisor shouted, “Criminal Wong, you’ve been telling silly Bible stories to Criminal Choi! You forced him to memorize superstitious nonsense. You’re breaking the prison rules again. Criminal Choi, you are our witness! Repeat what he told you.”

The hefty inmate beside Inmate Choi yanked his head upward. Mr. Wong saw fear in his friend’s face, and, pitying him, prayed for him again and again. But Mr. Choi’s eyes glazed over as he spoke in a staccato, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

Mr. Wong was amazed that the supervisor would allow Choi to continue reciting the Ten Regulations, but the officer made no move to silence him. Mr. Wong listened, and his friend recited all ten of the Regulations without a single mistake. God had provided an opportunity for the guards and the prisoners to hear every one of them! Mr. Wong’s heart sang, in spite of the pain in his scalp from the pressure the prisoner beside him was putting on his hair.

All the prisoners listened silently to Mr. Choi’s recitation. An air solemn like a monastery hung over the cave.

The supervisor shattered the silence, shouting, “Criminal Choi has presented evidence before you all by chanting superstitious dogma.” Turning, he sneered, “Criminal Wong, we asked him to chant that feudalistic nonsense so the prisoners could know your crime.”

But Mr. Wong heard the prisoners murmuring amongst themselves. “I’m a thief. I broke the Seventh Regulation. That’s why I’m here.” Another said, “I killed a man. I broke the Sixth Regulation. That’s why I’m here!” The supervisor’s plan had backfired!

Rather than feeling embarrassed or defeated, Mr. Wong felt victorious. He never would have guessed that teaching Mr. Choi would result in this wholesale teaching of the Ten Regulations to all the prisoners – at the instigation of his jailers! Truly his Real God had often used wicked people to spread His truth. Silently, he thanked his Friend Jesus for this unexpected opportunity to witness.

Since his crime had been exposed, would further punishment follow? Mr. Wong wondered. As he worked with his unit that day, he felt pity for Inmate Choi, and he felt apprehension that the government would soon retaliate.

That night, as the prisoners ate in the cave, a guard approached Mr. Wong, pulled out a pair of handcuffs, and snapped them onto his wrists. In a loud voice, he announced, “These handcuffs are your punishment for teaching counterrevolutionary ideas to Criminal Choi and for breaking prison regulations. Every night we’ll handcuff you until you comply.” Before he left, the guard added, “You’re lucky, Criminal Wong, that you work hard; otherwise, we’d handcuff you all day long.” The handcuffs were a nuisance, making it difficult to sleep, but Mr. Wong felt that they were a small price to pay for three hundred prisoners to hear the Ten Regulations.

***

Release of a Prisoner

“You’re a very lucky man, Criminal Wong!” The guard interrupted Mr. Wong’s reverie as he passed out slips of paper to four other prisoners. “You came to Tsinghai from Shanghai with 1,500 prisoners, ad, over the last twenty years, 3,500 other prisoners have also come here from Shanghai. Today, eighteen of those five thousand are left, and only five of them were chosen for release. You are one of those five! Each of them requested travel papers to visit their families. All were denied a holiday except for you. I don’t know why you are so lucky!”

Wong was finally released in 1979, when the Gang of Four were overthrown, the Cultural Revolution was deemed a failure, and Deng Xiaoping became leader and began the modernization of China. His daughters had had an extremely difficult time on their own; it being known that their father was a counter-revolutionary. But they had made it, gotten married, and Mr. Wong lived at least until he could tell this book, which was in 1986.