Recently, the editors of Patheos offered us the opportunity to read and review Bob Fu and Nancy French’s new book entitled “God’s Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian’s Fight for Freedom.” I gladly accepted, as I have been interested in the topic of religious persecution across the globe for quite some time now. As I finished the book, I came away with one dominant thought: Every American needs to read this book.
Despite recent attacks on religious freedom in the United States, it remains true that we as Americans enjoy religious liberty and a freedom of expression that is unimaginable to our Christian brothers and sisters in so many countries worldwide. Bob Fu’s new book, which recounts events in the very recent past in modern-day China, makes this fact painfully clear. As I read the book, I found myself wondering how it could be possible that these events continue to take place in our world today – was it possible that these accounts were exaggerated or conflated in order to make them seem more dramatic? If I did not know more about China and about the plight of persecuted Christians the world over, I might be tempted to think so. However, I must say that, if anything, Mr. Fu downplays the torture, both psychological and physical, that he and his wife (and so many others) have endured at the hands of the Chinese government throughout the years.
A quick summary: Mr. Fu grew up in a poor family in China, the son of a very sick mother and a disabled father, and because of his leadership abilities and general tenacity, was afforded the opportunity to attend university. He knew from an early age that he wanted to make a big difference for the people of China, and this book is in large part a story of the metamorphosis of his heart and mind on how he could make such a change within the confines of a strict communist government. As I read through the book I felt as if I was receiving a modern Chinese history lesson through the lens of Mr. Fu’s experience, first as a popular student activist and protestor who ultimately participated in the Tianamen Square demonstrations, then as a government-labeled “enemy of the people” who was ostracized and forced to write endless confessions, and ultimately as a religious dissident following his conversion to Christianity. Although I knew that he and his pregnant wife ultimately received asylum in the United States, I read with anticipation the account of their daring escape and all of the many miracles that accompanied them along the way.
Pastor Fu and his beautiful family now reside in TX, and he runs a non-profit organization called ChinaAid, which “provides support for underground house churches, legal counsel for victims of forced abortions, financial help to prisoners in labor camps and their families, and more. It also sponsors the only nationally circulated underground church magazine in China. ChinaAid’s three-pronged strategy, Mr. Fu says, consists of ‘exposing the abuses, encouraging the abused, and spiritually and legally equipping’ the Chinese ‘to defend their faith and freedom’ (quote from this WSJ article).” Although it seems as if China might be moving towards considering a reform of its strict one-child policy, there is still much work to be done on exposing the human rights abuses that routinely occur in the form of forced abortions (see here and here). Many Christian leaders and Catholic bishops are also routinely arrested, tortured, and detained indefinitely, and ChinaAid seeks to expose these abuses as well.
“God’s Double Agent” is an accessible, easy-to-read account of Bob Fu’s incredible journey and all of the people that he has encountered along the way. The book is at once personal and historical, since he writes his story with the backdrop of communist China ever-present, and I appreciate the opportunity to understand his country’s recent history through his own eyes. After reading this book, I feel convicted to pray not only for China and persecuted people of faith all over the world, but also a greater responsibility to be a good steward of the freedoms that I enjoy as a citizen of the United States. May God continue to guide and bless the work of so many who have dedicated their lives to serving the persecuted Church throughout the world.
*For further reading on China’s one-child policy, I highly recommend an excellent book called “A Mother’s Ordeal,” written by Steven Mosher.