May 6, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C.–When a lost sheep returns to the flock, the shepherd rejoices! On December 4, 2009, Chai Ling, former Tiananmen Square Leader, a woman hunted by Chinese police and who suffered great personal loss for her sacrifice, chose to embrace a new identity, becoming a believer and follower of Christ. This Easter, she was baptized in Boston’s Parkstreet Church, sharing her life testimony and journey to hope and faith with the world. Fellow Tiananmen Square leader and Christian brother Zhang Boli was overjoyed to hear the news. Like many other Christian Chinese expatriates, he had prayed fervently for her salvation. With thanksgiving to God, Pastor Zhang Boli shares the following message, in honor of Chai Ling and her brave testimony:
Chai Ling Has Embraced the Lord!
by Zhang Boli
Yesterday, Chai Ling called me and in great excitement, she shared with me every detail from the time she accepted the Lord to the baptism. In her rapid description, it was almost impossible for me to chip in the talk. However, I could feel the joy flowing from the bottom of her heart. I also felt the happy, innocent short-haired young girl that I got to know 20 years ago on the campus of Peking University has come back again.
The massacre that occurred in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago changed the fate of us, the Tiananmen Generation. As the general commander of Tiananmen Students Movement, Chai Ling doubtlessly tops the list.
Facing great hardship, she fled here and there in China for 10 months. It is said that several dozen of “Chai Lings” were caught in China’s coastal cities during that time. Being a fugitive was not easy for a girl of 24. These were not thrilling scenes in a movie, but real risks and threats of death.
The first thing she experienced after she escaped to America is the sorrow of divorce. That is the pain that neither she nor we wanted to touch, as I was the “comrade-in-arms” with both the wife and the husband. Soon after they got divorced, I, too, escaped from China. During a meeting in Paris, she told me that she often had thoughts of leaving this world as she couldn’t go on with this life alone. How much pain she had in her heart, I couldn’t guess, but I do remember that she needed more than a whole box of paper tissues to wipe her tears during that meeting.
After the painful divorce, an even bigger blow hit her. Her mother, an army doctor, and her grandmother, whom she deeply loves, passed away one after another in the pain of missing her. The day her mother passed away happened to be Chai Ling’s birthday. I fled from Princeton Hospital to see her. She said in tears: “Mom had me when she was 25. Now, when I am 25, she passes away. It is all my fault….” Suddenly, there was a power outage, so she lit up a red candle. Under the candle light and tears, we quietly accompanied her in paying condolences to her mother from afar. Each one of us in the Tiananmen Generation couldn’t help but feel guilty about our families and our loved ones. Many of our loved ones lost their positions, jobs and even lives because of us, a condition which will burden us for the rest of our lives.
Her misery didn’t seem to stop there. In the mid-90s of the last century, a documentary was released that carefully concocted a misguided impression of Chai Ling—implying that she looked forward to bloodshed, but in the moment of trial, she fled—which guided the public to denounce her, fatally injuring Chai Ling’s soul. Overseas, the largest Chinese and English newspapers began to denounce Chai Ling in lengthy and tedious articles, accusing Chai Ling as responsible for the massacre and deaths. Even some elites who participated in the Tiananmen Movement gave their share of denouncing Chai Ling—which Chai Ling, helpless and young, didn’t know how to handle, making her all the more miserable.
I was one of very few people who stood up and spoke for her. To me, the analogy for the assertion that the students themselves were responsible for the massacre is like blaming a girl killed in a rape: Why should she resist the rapist? Didn’t she see that the rapist had a knife in hand? If she obeyed him, everything would be fine with her…. It’s sad to see that such “gangster logic” is regarded as normal. It seems that in the history of mankind, only the Chinese elites denounce the insulted and the massacred from a perspective of political manipulation.
This is the tragedy of the Chinese intellectuals, because they have only their interests and no sense of justice in their minds. These intellectuals are not quite human beings! Under the temptation of money and power, the intellectual elites of China have almost all turned into cynics as a group; and as a group, they sold their collective conscience until a girl named Deng Yuejiao came out and said “No” to this logic.
In fact, when facing the massacre, Chai Ling, like all other students in the square, had the desire and right to live. They all had dreams of performing their filial duty to their parents, of falling in love, getting married and raising children. This is quite normal and natural in human relationships, and there is nothing wrong with that. Jesus also said before He was crucified on the cross: “I’m strong in spirit, but my body is very weak.” “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42). The cup mentioned here by Jesus refers to the tribulation and death on the cross. Even the true feelings of God’s own son were never censured: why should people criticize Chai Ling, who is only a human being, not a goddess? She was only a 23-year-old girl. Why should we criticize Chai Ling with vicious language?
Though Chai Ling, who has now accepted the Lord, was once severely tormented, she does not blame people for their criticism. She thinks it is because people do not know the truth behind that part of history. To her, the majority of people are still benevolent and just. It’s like what Christ said before He went away: “Oh, Lord. Please forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” However, we cannot continue to tolerate the unintentional ignorance and intentional misguidance. Just imagine this: if the Bible only discusses Jesus’ struggle before the Crucifixion and does not discuss how Jesus defeated the fear and then went to the Cross willingly and without resistance so that He could redeem our sins with his own sufferings and death to fulfill the will of God of giving his beloved humanity a chance of eternal life, then our understanding of Jesus is very one-sided. In fact, just like Jesus’ last moments, on May 28, Chai Ling said those words of wanting to live on because she thought these were the last moments of her life as she was getting ready to leave the square and engage in the more risky plan of stopping the troops.
In those days, people outside the ring did not know that the square itself was the safest place to be as it was surrounded by the media and the crowds. She hoped that in case something bad happened, the people of the world would not misunderstand us, thinking that we were pursuing death. However, when she heard the objections, she immediately abandoned the plan of leaving the square and stayed behind until the early morning of June 4, when Chai Ling, along with the last several thousand students in Tiananmen Square, willingly gave up her desire to seek life and the sentimental attachment to her beloved parents, the aging grandma, the young sister and brother and her young husband. She stood resolute and firm by the Monument to the People’s Hero, facing the machine guns and tanks, and was ready to make the supreme sacrifice for her beloved motherland, the new birth of her compatriots and freedom.
She never abandoned the students, nor did she flee into a foreign embassy or flee to a coastal region in the southeastern part of China to be smuggled out of the country. Instead, she stayed in the square until the night of June 3, to face the machine guns and the tanks. On the morning of June 4, when the majority of students made the decision of withdrawing, she led the students out of the square, surrounded by guns and soldiers—and she was walking in the front row. That was the most dangerous place. If the army began to shoot the students, she would be among the first to die.
My dear compatriots, what a courage and devotion this is! This is Chai Ling and the Tiananmen Generation. What a great love she has toward our brothers and sisters!
Should we really let the devil manipulate us just because she said on behalf of all of us the desire to seek life and should we avoid the fact that she finally defeated the fear of death, bravely stayed in the square and faced death? Should we the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation purposely let lies blind us and let people sling mud at the courage and devotion of Chai Ling and our brothers and sisters of Tiananmen she represents?
Indeed, neither Chai Ling nor we could explain why so many of our compatriots died while we survived, especially the Tiananmen Mothers who have suffered the most. This is the reason why she has been living in the bitter sea of guilt in all these years for having survived the massacre. As a witness and survivor of the massacre, I know that on the morning of June 4, we were among the last people to walk out of Tiananmen Square amidst gun smoke and shrapnel. We walked back to Peking University followed by the pursuing tanks which went on to kill a dozen of us students. Chai Ling led all the surviving students back to the school. After she finished the mission of being the general commander, she went on a trip of a fugitive here and there in China that turned out to last for 10 long and miserable months until she was one day locked in a ship’s wooden box for four days and five nights from which she finally escaped the death.
That’s why I think it was all due to God’s grace that she miraculously survived. In face of vituperation and criticism against Chai Ling, I, as a strong-willed man of principle, can’t tolerate to see the young girl who lost her family, mother and grandma in that movement, carry alone the cross of Tiananmen Massacre! The reason why I stand out to speak the truth is for none other than seeking the peace in my own heart.
Chai Ling didn’t use the knife of words as Deng Yuejiao did. Instead, she chose silence. Since then, the once young and happy girl was seen no more and Chai Ling disappeared from media and people’s view. She no longer had contact with any people and no longer trust any friends or comrade-in-arms. She wrapped herself tight for fear of being harmed and injured once again by the so-called “comrade-in-arms” and the “free media.” Even I didn’t see her for over 10 years.
While the world treated her as scum, God hoisted her. I learned later that in these lonely days of loss, God never abandoned her. God brought a God-loving American friend to her. They fell in love, got married and had three children. Later, they founded a software company which has been much blessed by God. In the meantime, I graduated from a seminary and became a missionary. Since I didn’t have her phone number, I often prayed for her whenever I missed her.
At the prayer meeting held in Washington, D.C. in honor of the people killed 20 years ago on June 4, I saw Chai Ling. In the music of “Amazing Grace,” her face was covered with tears. I came down from the stage, shook hands with her and hugged her. On that day, I placed a hand on her and prayed. Feng Suo and other several schoolmates of ours who have become Christians also placed hands on her and prayed to God to guide Chai Ling’s soul. At that moment, the Holy Spirit moved me and we prayed that sooner or later she would be discovered by our God whose reach is boundless, that she would stand with us and become one of the children of God. I believe that no matter how much tribulation, distress, persecution, loneliness and coldness there is in the world, they won’t separate us from God. I also believe that one day we will gather in the kingdom of Christ!
Just as the apostle Paul said: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37)
That prayer meeting was held on the night of June 4, 2009. Just six months later on December 4, 2009, Chai Ling’s soul was moved by the mercy and grace of the Lord. She made up her mind to accept Christ as the Lord and became one of the children of the Lord. Thank God that He has heard our prayers. Hallelujah!
Yesterday, Chai Ling sent over her testimony which she prepared for her baptism and a gathering between the Chinese and American Christians in Texas. The testimony was in English and some brothers and sisters in Texas translated it into Chinese. She told me she wrote this testimony with God’s inspiration in one six-hour sitting while suffering pain from a gum operation. Today, I recommend this testimony to my brothers and sisters, and ask that we pray for her. May God’s love get rid of all the harms she has suffered in her past life, and may God’s spirit guide her life in loving God, following God, serving God, and glorifying God.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold! All things have become new.” Amen!
Written in a suburb of Washington DC on April 28, 2010.
About Zhang Boli
Zhang Boli was born in Wangkui County, Heilongjiang Province. He worked as a journalist after graduating from a 3-year college in Heilongjiang Province. He was attending a short training program in Beijing University in 1989.
Zhang participated and became one of the leaders in the late stage of the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989 and helped organize the hunger strike that happened with it. He was number 17 on the Chinese Most Wanted list for the 21 Tiananmen Square Protest leaders.
After escaping from Beijing, Zhang spent 2 years as a fugitive in China. He once escaped into the Soviet Union, but was refused the request to be sent to a free country as a political refugee, seeking asylum. He was allowed to escape back into China. He worked a small farm in a remote corner of Heilongjiang province. After a friend found a way for him to escape, he came down south again. After divorcing his wife and briefly reuniting with his daughter, he was smuggled into Hong Kong.He wrote a book called Escape From China about how he escaped the PRC government. He is currently a pastor in the Washington DC area and leads a church called “Harvest Chinese Christian Church” in Fairfax, Virginia. He married his second wife and has two children from two marriages.
Article From Wikipedia.org | Visit Zhang Boli’s Personal Blog: http://zhangboli.net