In 1931 Dietrich Bonhoeffer was enjoying study and teaching at New York’s Union Theological Seminary. As Nazism started to become powerful in his native Germany, he realized that things could take an ugly turn for his countrymen. He returned to Germany, understanding this could mean trouble for him. The story of his heroic fight against Hitler and martyr’s death in 1945 is well known.
In 1989 Liu Xia was a Chinese superstar. A brilliant emigre political scientist, he was teaching in New York. When the Chinese democracy movement gathered momentum in the spring of 1989, he believed he was called to return to China. He must have known this would be the end of a comfortable life. The communist government’s brutality toward dissent, though having abated a bit at that moment, was well-known.The rest is now history. Liu was imprisoned numerous times for his brave leadership. In 2010 he won the Nobel Peace Prize, while in prison. This public shaming of the communist government failed to induce Beijing to release Liu. Last week he died in prison.
I don’t know if Liu was a Christian. But he surely was moved by the Truth that was incarnated by Jesus, and that is “the True Light that enlightens every man” (John 1:9). He shows us Christians that standing for Truth today means being willing to risk all.
Here is a short tribute to this brave man.