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The Mandate

The 1989 Pro-Democracy Revolution in China

By Jay Rogers
Published April 24, 2008

An Eyewitness Shares His Testimony

MANILA, Philippines – Ching* was born and raised in the Philippines. Like most young people, he wanted to be a success in life, and planned to study at a university in a large city in China.

Six months before he left, however, something happened that changed his life forever. Someone invited him to a Christian meeting where Los Angeles Lakers basketball star A.C. Green spoke. Ching listened as Green told how he had asked Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of his life – and how he felt like a new person inside.

Something stirred in Ching’s heart. “A preacher said to me, ‘Hey, young man, you’re in darkness! You need to get out!’ I knew that it was the Lord’s voice,” Ching said. “I responded and the Lord pulled me out of that darkness.”

Ching felt like a new man. He joined a Christian church near his home, read his Bible regularly, became friends with many new people, and learned as much as he could about Jesus.

Finally the time came to leave for China. Although he did not relish the idea of missing the friendship of the other Christians in his church, Ching felt the Lord was directing him to study in China, and so he willingly went, intent on telling as many people as he could about Jesus.

But like many students, Ching was distracted by all the sights and sounds of his new city. “I didn’t care about evangelism then,” he said. “All I wanted to do was sightsee and shop.” But one day he had an experience that changed his life again.

Ching was standing near his dormitory, looking across a courtyard. “I saw a Chinese student walking in the distance,” he said, “and the Lord spoke to my heart. He showed me that there were millions of people in China, just like this one, who were not saved and that they were all going to hell.”

After that experience, Ching’s heart was touched. Shortly thereafter, he met a Christian who needed help to secretly bring Bibles into China. The man was a leader of a “house church” – a church that is not part of China’s government-sanctioned church movement, but instead meets secretly in homes. The man told Ching that Bibles were extremely scarce in China. Yes, the government allowed some to be printed, but the number was not nearly enough for the millions of Christians without Bibles – and the millions more who wanted to learn about Jesus. The man told Ching that many people secretly brought Bibles into China from other countries and delivered them to leaders like him, who would then distribute them to the people.

Ching listened to the man’s request, and decided that he would respond to the great need in China for Bibles and Christian literature. And so he began traveling back and forth between Hong Kong and China secretly bringing in Bibles.

Soon he began to talk about the Lord more boldly with other students. “I started going door to door in the dorms sharing the Gospel,” he said. “It really touched my heart to find the people so open to hear about Jesus.”

He began to hold secret meetings in the dorm where he taught about the Bible. In spite of the danger, ten or more students would often gather to hear what he had to say. In fact, so many students came to know Jesus Christ that Ching went to Hong Kong every six weeks to bring more Bibles into the country for the new believers.

After one semester, Ching transferred to another university believing that the Lord wanted him to work there. He talked to students at his new school about Jesus and taught them from the Bible, and many more became Christians. They in turn would talk to their friends, and the number of Christians on campus grew rapidly. Soon there was a secret church in the dorm of more than 100 students! Many of them were former Communist party members. “We even saw several people in the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] give their lives to serve Jesus Christ,” Ching said.

As the number of Christian students increased, Ching knew they had to be very careful. The communist authorities were incensed by his boldness and were beginning to watch him more closely. Going from door to door sharing the Gospel with Chinese students in the dormitories brought him a sharp rebuke from a Communist Party official. A woman warned him to stop talking to the other students about God. “I heard you preaching a religion,” she said. “China is free; you can believe anything you want, but the students are supported by the state. They are supposed to be Marxist and you are changing their minds.”

Ching also had to be very careful because during the spring of 1989 students at this university – like many around China at that time – were joining the pro-democracy movement.

One night Ching was walking on his campus and met a student leader named Li*. Quietly, Ching told him the good news about Jesus Christ, then asked simply, “Do you want to be born again?”

Ching explained that the term “born again” refers to the new life that God offers us when our sins are forgiven. God will give this new life as a free gift to anyone who turns away from wrongdoing and believes in Jesus Christ.

Li responded enthusiastically. “Yes! I’ve always wanted to be born again!” he told Ching. “I’ve been searching for answers all my life. I’ve been studying philosophy trying to make some sense of this life – but Jesus Christ is the answer!”

Ching prayed with his friend, who asked Jesus to come into his life.

Tensions began to grow at the university, and more and more students became involved in the pro-democracy movement. One day Li told Ching, “We have to talk to the school authorities. There is so much injustice committed at this school. We just want to talk with them and tell them we’re being repressed.”

Li organized a large pro-democracy rally on campus. Many other students – including some who had become Christians, went to Beijing for the student demonstrations in May and June. When the student massacres took place, many of Ching’s friends disappeared. To this day, he doesn’t know what happened to them – if they were killed, arrested, or if they made it out of the city.

Ching probably would have disappeared with them, but he was not in China on that June 4. Before the demonstrations even took place, he had already planned to be in Hong Kong to bring back more Bibles. Had he been on the mainland, he could well have been arrested.

Ching was forced to return to the Philippines, but hopes to go back to China someday. He plans to organize a team of people who are interested in serving as English teachers and businessmen. “When I go to China,” he said, “I am going to look for jobs for them. You are not allowed to go in as a missionary, but you can work as an English teacher. It is very easy for an American to go to China to teach English.

“My vision is for the Chinese people in general,” he added, “but given a choice, I would like to work on a campus. My university, for instance, was a potpourri – a mixture of all the most intelligent people in China. All the future leaders of China are trained there. That is the hope of China. Some of them are Communist Party members; some of them are going to be government officials. If they become Christians, China is going to have hope. I am not discounting the fact that others should also be reached, but the students are China’s hope.”

Ching remembers his many talks with Chinese students. “I saw so much emptiness in their lives that it made me want to cry,” he said. “Financially, they have nothing. Emotionally, they are always hurt. Physically, there is so much injustice and repression. Jesus is the only answer.”


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