An Eyewitness Shares His Testimony
MANILA, Philippines (FR) – After losing his passport during the Beijing massacre, a Chinese exchange student returned to Manila last June with an exciting and insightful story to tell.
Due to the sensitive nature of this story, however, we are unable to use this student’s real name. “Ching” was instrumental in planting an underground “house church” on the Xiamen University campus which grew to over 100 believers in less than two years. He also knew many of the Christians who were standing up for democracy in China, and was being watched by Communist Party authorities several months before he left the city of Xiamen.
At the time of the Beijing massacre, Ching informed us, there were many pro-democracy rallies taking place on university campuses all over China. The rally on the Xiamen University campus was organized by a Christian whom Ching had personally led to the Lord. The number of students attending this rally was so large that the University administration was forced to cancel classes that week.
Ching became a Christian two years ago during Maranatha Campus Ministries’ outreach in the Philippines. Evangelist Greg Ball and Los Angeles Lakers power guard A.C. Green staged a basketball exhibition game to attract the Filipino students in Manila. Ching remembers being confronted with the Gospel by Greg Ball: “A preacher during an outreach here said to me, ‘Hey young man – you’re in darkness! You need to get out!’ That was Greg Ball speaking, but I knew that it was the Lord’s voice. I responded to an altar call and the Lord pulled me out of that darkness.”
Ching was born and raised in the Philippines, which has millions of indigenous Chinese. Although he was not from China, by a quirk of Filipino law he was living in the Philippines on a mainland Chinese passport. When he gave his life to the Lord during the Maranatha outreach, Ching had already been planning for six months to be an exchange student at Xiamen University in the People’s Republic of China. He went to pursue his studies only six weeks after he first gave his life to the Lord. He was already committed to Jesus Christ and did not doubt his salvation, so he went to China – although he did not relish the idea of missing fellowship for six months.
When Ching first arrived in China he did not have a burden for the people. “I didn’t care – all I wanted to do was sightsee or shop.” But one day he had an experience which drastically changed his life.
Ching remembers standing near his dormitory and looking across a courtyard. “I saw a Chinese student walking in the darkness and the Lord spoke to me. He showed me that there were millions of people in China, just like this one, who were not saved and that they were going to hell.”
After that experience, Ching wanted to share with the Chinese people but felt he didn’t know how since he was so young in the Lord. Later that year, Ching met a Christian man who needed help smuggling Bibles into China. He prayed about it and the Lord told him to extend his stay in China. Ching responded to the great need in China for Bibles and Christian literature. He would take Bibles to leaders of house churches, who would then distribute them to the people.
Four months later the Lord spoke to Ching again: “I don’t want you to be afraid any longer. I want you to share the Gospel boldly with people.” Ching was not politically minded then – “I just wanted people to be saved,” he said. “I started going door to door in the dorms sharing the Gospel with the students. It really touched my heart to find the people so open.”
Ching started to become bold in witnessing. Teaching the little he knew in Bible studies, with the aid of another Filipino exchange student who had been a Christian for a longer period of time, Ching began to see God move through his evangelism.
“One time,” he said, “I invited 15 of these people to an evangelistic meeting and seven of them got saved.”
Often when witnessing to students in their dorm rooms, they would make Ching wait until they brought 10 or more students back to hear what he had to say. He had gained so many converts during this time that he often had to go to Hong Kong to smuggle Bibles back into the country for them.
After one semester as an exchange student, Ching transferred to Xiamen University feeling that the Lord wanted him to labor there. All the people in Ching’s church were either new believers or were saved in a chain reaction through other new believers. As of last spring, during the time of the Beijing massacre, the church had rapidly grown to over 100 people. Ching had been a new believer, and had had no teaching or discipleship prior to arriving in China, but God used him in a powerful way.
“We saw several people in the PLA security get saved,” Ching said. The PLA (People’s Liberation Army) is responsible to rid the Chinese Republic of Christians who go door to door evangelizing. There were also students saved at the University who were Communist party members.
When asked if Christians were behind the pro-democracy movement, Ching said, “Some of the older Christians in China think that the call for democracy is a worldly struggle. But this is not true of new Christians. The rally in Xiamen was started by a guy who I led to the Lord and is a very good friend of mine.”
Ching led this student leader to the Lord one night when he was out walking on his campus. As he walked along, praying for people’s hearts to be opened to hear the Gospel, the Holy Spirit alerted him to a friend of his walking in the distance.
“Hey! I haven’t seen you in such a long time!” Ching called him to come over, “I want to share something nice with you!” The student walked up and Ching said, “I want to share the Gospel with you – Have you ever heard of the Gospel of Jesus?” Ching told him the story of Nicodemus and explained what being “born-again” means. Then he simply asked him, “Do you want to be born-again?”
Ching’s friend responded enthusiastically, “Yes! I’ve always wanted to be born-again!” he said. “I’ve been searching for answers all my life. I’ve been studying philosophy trying to make some sense of this life – but this right here is the answer!”
Ching told his friend about being filled with the Holy Spirit. “You mean – there’s more?” his friend asked. Together they went to see some of the Christians in Ching’s church. They laid hands on this student and he started speaking in tongues.
“This is the guy who started the rally,” Ching related. “He came to me later and said, ‘I want you to support this. 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. It’s not something violent – we just want to talk with them.’ I don’t know about the demonstration in Beijing, but the one in Xiamen was started by a Christian.”
Ching was unable to give his friend any money; at this point the PLA security had been scrutinizing him very closely. “I told him that he should consult the Lord to see if these demonstrations are of God. The last I heard he was in trouble with the school authorities and he might have been expelled from school.”
Going from door to door, sharing the Gospel boldly with Chinese students in the dormitories, brought Ching a sharp rebuke from a Communist Party official shortly before he left Xiamen.
“I heard you preaching a religion,” the woman warned him.
“I am not preaching a religion,” Ching told her. “I am preaching Jesus.”
She then warned him further, “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.”
“China is still very feudalistic,” Ching told us. “Although there is a democracy movement, there is no freedom of expression. They say that there is freedom of religion and point to the people going to church; but this is the Three Self Church. When you go to a state operated church, you don’t hear the Gospel. Some churches even preach the Communist Party’s politics. People cannot believe what they want to believe. So there is really no freedom in China.”
God has given Ching a burden for mainland Chinese students. There is a great openness among these young people – they have a great hunger for the Gospel. He related to Steve Murell, pastor of the Maranatha Church in Manila, that China makes the Philippines look like “a post-Christian, backslidden nation.” There is even a greater spiritual hunger among the Chinese students in Xiamen City than there is in the Philippines, which has been experiencing a mighty revival.
“The situation in China is amazing,” he said. “When I talked to the Chinese people, I saw so much emptiness in their lives that it made me want to cry. Financially, they have nothing. Emotionally, they are always hurt. Physically, there is so much injustice and repression. Jesus is the only answer.”
Ching said that some of the Christians from the University had gone to Beijing to the student demonstration during the week long fast. He was not there himself, but he knew that some of the students fighting for liberty in Tiananmen Square were Christians. To this day, he doesn’t know what happened to his friends that were in the demonstration – if they were killed, arrested or made it out of the city.
In fact, it was a miracle that Ching was able to leave the mainland. He had been travelling to Hong Kong every six weeks to smuggle Bibles into the country for the new believers on campus. When the massacre broke out he was in Hong Kong. He lost his return train ticket when the Chinese government declared martial law and put an end to all travel into the country. Had he been in the mainland, he would have been stuck there indefinitely.
Ching believes that the Spirit of God is moving through the democracy movement letting the people know that they need to be saved. “I am sure that the Lord is going to continue to move in China,” Ching said optimistically.
He believes that the Lord has used the massacre to expose Communism. “After this, the Chinese are going to see the truth about Communism. Most Chinese do not believe in Communism, but there are still some that think it is great. But now more people will come to the realization that they can no longer believe in something that is so evil.”
In the few months before Ching left Xiamen, students were coming to know the Lord in increasing numbers. “It was unbelievable,” he said. “I had never seen anything like this before.”
Although he was in Hong Kong during the massacre, Ching has talked to many Chinese coming back from the mainland: “They say that China is going backwards; economically, it is much worse off.” Ching believes that this will only increase the Chinese people’s hunger for the Gospel.
Ching has a burden to go back to China. After studying one more year in Manila, he plans to return to China to the great work of grace he has begun in Xiamen City.
“After I finish school, I am going to try to find a job in China so that I can go back. I can probably get a job as an English teacher or as a translator in a company. I want to be able to share the Gospel because I really believe that God is going to bring democracy to China.”
During the time he is in Manila, Ching plans to organize a team of people who are interested in going to China as English teachers and businessmen: “I have this vision to go to China and bring in a group of Christians. When I go to China I am going to look for jobs for them. You are not allowed to go in as a full time missionary, but you can be a missionary by being an English teacher.” He added, “It is very easy for an American to go to China to teach English.”
When asked if his vision included the universities in China, Ching said, “My vision is for the Chinese people in general, but given a choice, I would like to work on a campus. Xiamen University, for instance, is a potpourri; it is a mixture of all the most intelligent people in China. Beijing University is like the Harvard of China. All the future leaders of China are trained there. That is the hope of China.”
“There is so much idol worship in the villages; I have a burden for that too. There are millions of people in idol worship – whole towns. But I still feel that to reach out to the Chinese students is so important, because they are going to be the future leaders 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.”
On a final note Ching added, “I would ask the people in the United States to continue praying for China. Pray for the missionaries that are already there. There is so much to be done. I would hope and pray that God would continue to send people out into the harvest.”