Jimmy Lai started as a street vendor in China, and, after fleeing to then-free Hong Kong, he became a billionaire. Here he also became a Christian. Once Communist China took over Hong Kong, he began working with the pro-democracy movement.
In retaliation, the Communists confiscated one of his businesses after another. He was subject to fire bombings, car attacks, and arrests. Recently, the pro-democracy newspaper he owned was shut down, his remaining assets were seized by the state, and he has been sent to prison. You have got to read Christopher Bedford’s account of his story, entitled Christopher Bedford, Modern-Day Martyr: Meet The Self-Made Billionaire Who Is Sacrificing It All For God. His commitment to liberty and democracy and his ability to sacrifice everything he has for them grow out of his faith. Here are some quotations from Jimmy Lai:
“Prison life is the pinnacle of my life. I am completely at peace.”. . .
“The Communists,” he told Economic Strategy Institute President Clyde Berkowitz, “think they can buy and or intimidate everyone off, create their own reality, and write their own history. Effectively, they assume the role of God. They are kind of a religion or an anti-religion.”
‘They have initiation into the party as a kind of baptism. They have self-criticism as a kind of confession of sins, re-education as a kind of penance, and elevation to hero of the party as a kind of sainthood. And, of course, at least Mao [Zedong] has a kind of everlasting life as a photo smiling down on Tiananmen Square and as an embalmed corpse in a casket in the square.’
‘But the party and its members do not have souls. In fact, they are dead men walking, because the truth is not in them.’
“Life,” he told the Catholic Napa Institute in an October interview, “is more than just bread; life has a greater meaning.” . . .
“If you believe in the Lord,” Lai told the Napa Institute, “if you believe that all suffering has a reason, and the Lord is suffering with me, it will definitely define the person I am becoming so I am at peace with it.”
“I am what I am. I am what I believe. I cannot change it. And if I can’t change it, I have to accept my fate with praise.”
At a time when even many conservatives, including many Christian conservatives, have given up on liberal democracy, and when many billionaires and big corporations are kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party, and when many politicians in our own liberal democracy who decry oppression are doing obeisance to the totalitarians who are oppressing their own people, it is uplifting and inspiring to attend to the example of Jimmy Lai.
This is not the time for conservatives and Christians to reject democracy and civil liberties, when others around the world want them so badly.
Photo: Jimmy Lai, by Office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi – https://twitter.com/SpeakerPelosi/status/1186780385121918976, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98369563