For holiday reading this Easter I picked up “A Heart for Freedom” by one of the student leaders of the Tiananmen Square protest, Chai Ling. I have been captivated and wonderfully blown away by her story. This is a book which all followers of Jesus should read and which no government opposed to the ways of Christ will want to read. The message comes through loud and clear: Jesus is alive and full of grace and the meek will inherit the earth.
The book works on many levels. First, Chai Ling manages to beautifully and slightly hauntingly combine the historical, political and personal narrative of what went on in the months and years surrounding the Tiananmen Square massacre with an honest and open transparency of her own heart, mind and motives. The reader is thankfully spared the detail of the massacre, but is given an insight into the forces at work within the Chinese Government, its interaction with the army and the youthful, perhaps overoptimistic and naive, hopes of the protesting students and their supporters in the wider population.
Without ever sounding preachy, Chai Ling’s life story raises issues of the misuse of political power, the challenges of leadership and difficulty of working by committee, one-child policy in China, forced abortion, failed relationships, divorce, sex outside marriage, trust, family struggles, the fallacy of the American dream with its over-emphasis on education and material success. The closing chapters draw all the threads together in the testimony of her coming to know the love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and freedom which can be found in Christ alone. She exudes a faith in Christ by which he will move the mountains of power and injustice, by his gospel of grace. She appears to be turning all the passion and hard work she has exhibited throughout her life to making Christ known in China. She longs to see hundreds of millions of women and young ladies, over half the female population, freed from the tyranny of forced and free abortion, which she herself quietly endured, and for all the resulting hidden guilt and shame to be released, through practical support and the proclamation of Christ. She is doing this through her charity All Girls Allowed.
Her knowledge of Christ has clearly flourished in the three years since she came to faith. There’s a glimpse in her story of the impact of what Jesus is doing through the ministry of people like Brother Yun, the Heavenly Man, and Dr Tim Keller. Chai Ling has grown to know Christ in such a way that she can she the sovereignty of God in the massacre at Tiananmen Square; how God hardened the hearts of the government and army, as he did with Pharaoh, so that confidence in communism will crumble and Christ will emerge graciously triumphant.