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Thursday, January 2, 2014

"God's Double Agent" (Bob Fu)

TITLE: God's Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian's Fight for Freedom
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2013, (336 pages).

There is a lot of persecution going on since the beginning of the first century. Like what Jesus had said, that those who are persecuted for the sake of Christ are blessed. The Early Church too had their share of persections. The same goes for the early martyrs, the persecuted Church, and the many reports of tribulations of believers by evil regimes that are anti-Christian and utterly resistant to the gospel. Unlike the openly democratic and free societies in the West, there are many in Asia, the Middle East, the Eastern states of Asia, as well as many other secluded places where no news media are able to venture into. As a result, many believers suffered in silence and struggled in secret. How then does one stay right with God in a world gone horribly wrong? If there is one story to jerk us awake in our Western slumber and our comfortable state of nonchalance, it is the story of Bob Fu,  a former dissident and church leader in China, who escaped imprisonment and fled to the US in 1997. His story is just one page of the many books of horrific trials and tortures believers in China had to go through.

Beginning with a personal story of how Bob and his wife Heidi, escape the clutches of the secret police, and the real hunger and debilitating conditions suffered by many folks during the Cultural Revolution, Fu gives the world a closer look at the deceitfulness of the "Great Leap Forward" Cultural Revolution, the corruption of the establishment, and the evils committed by people in order to suppress the gospel and the believers. Imagine being starved until one had to cut, boil, and swallow leather strips to stop hunger pangs. Think about how a good like Bob's father, had to risk his family's well-being when doing kind deeds. Even the naming of children just to wart off suspicion and evil intent is part and parcel of life in China at that time. Movies come in the form of propaganda films, but those become highlights in the life of rural China, since any entertainment suffices. Schools were run military styles. Ordinary folks had to donate metals from their homes as a patriotic act. Even dating in University is outlawed. Freedom of speech and press are secondary. Obedience to the Communist Party is primary. All it takes is a little bit of defiance or resistance against the norm of politburo control, and one gets branded a traitor. That is what happened to Bob Fu, even though Fu's intent was good, and one that is based on equity and goodwill for the public. With growing suspicions and tightening control from the authorities, Fu finds his options increasingly limited in his struggle for a better society. Instead of dampening his fight, it turned him into a "counterrevolutionary." In the process, he encountered Christianity and from then on, he lives not just to participate in the making of a better society, he becomes a passionate follower of Jesus, to learn firsthand what it means to be a believer in an environment that is hostile and anti-Christ.

This is a gripping retelling of the incredible stories of faith behind one man's journey through persecution, prosecution, and perseverance. The many stories put our modern struggles of making ends meet, getting a satisfactory jobs, or paying our bills on time seem so mundane and superficial. I start to wonder how many of us living in the comforts of Western materialism and privacy of mass individualism, can actually survive the harsh tests of faith. Fu has learnt to be a double agent, one as a freedom fighter, and the other as a fighter for the gospel truth. With much help from both domestic underground sources as well as international agencies, Fu and his family managed to land in the USA with only a diaper bag and a long list of people they would like to thank. Such is the simplicity and the sacrifice they had to make in order to escape China. It is a story of how believers in the modern world can still be persecuted legally in a country like China that prides itself as "progressive" and people centered. Three things amazed me.

First, I am amazed by the resilience of Fu and his family, that against such huge barriers, it would have been easy to just succumb to the threats and the demands of the authorities. As long as Fu obeys the higher ups, his path would have been smooth sailing, even rewarding. Considering his influence and ability to network with people in power, he could have done more good from inside rather than when he was outside. The truth is, one has to remain faithful to what is right and not live a pretentious life upon what is blatantly wrong. Fu's faith in honouring God overwhelms the promise of societal comforts.

Second, the resistance movement is still a big part of living faith. It is a resistance that reminds me very much of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who made a fateful personal decision to be part of a rebellion to bring down Hitler. While Bonhoeffer was caught, imprisoned, and executed by Hitler's secret police just before the end of World War II, Fu managed to escaped the clutches of the Communist stronghold. While Fu's resistance efforts may not have resulted in the fall of the Communist Party, like how WWII ended with the fall of the German Empire, it brings about greater awareness to the world about the plight of Chinese believers in the underground churches of China.

Third, the results of Fu's efforts do not end just by escaping from China. Instead, Fu's love for his countrymen and fellow believers continued through his "China Aid" ministry, which is a ministry that advocates for the persecuted Church in China. What Fu had tried doing from within China, he can now do it freely from outside China. It is a test of his own belief in what freedom of speech and press can bring about. In doing so, any rewards or positive results of his efforts can be a testimony of what China would have looked like, if they have freedom like what many countries in the world have.

If you are looking for a book to be woken up from spiritual slumber, this book is pure adrenaline. Finally, my overall sentiment of this book teaches me that we ought to cherish our freedom gratefully, strengthen our faith gradually, build our connections wisely, use our influence appropriately, and to grow our trust steadfastly. For we are in a way "double agents" for God. One foot of ours is to be on the earthly commission to bring good news to the world. The other foot is on the promise of the heavenly kingdom from which all blessings flow from our Divine Creator God and Savior.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Baker Books and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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