Bob Fu prayed his first prayer as a young child as he watched his mother dying. Raised and educated as an atheist, he had never been taught any concept of the divine. ‘I was so desperate. My sister and I went to beg a local barefoot doctor who refused to go to rescue our mum,’ he says.
When he returned home, the young Fu knelt down in the courtyard of his house, and prayed to the ‘heavenly grandpa’ his mother had told him about. ‘Even when we are not aware of God’s presence, he still shows his love,’ he explains.
Fu’s mother had been forced to beg in order to feed her two young children; such was the poverty in China between 1958 and 1962.
SOMETHING MUST CHANGE
Even from a young age, Fu had a sense that there must be more to life. ‘Being raised in that kind of poverty, I experienced tremendous injustice and inequality…as a small I child, I felt: something has to change…I wanted to become a millionaire,’ he says.
‘Then later on I found that in China if you want to change the inequality and injustice the best way is to become a politician and maybe it would involve government leadership. That was my ambition.’
Fu was heavily involved in justice issues during his time at school. Then, as a student, as he became aware of the levels of endemic corruption in the communist state he was living in, he joined the protest demonstrations.
EARMARKED AS TROUBLE
Picked out by the authorities as a troublemaker following the Tiananmen massacre of 1989, Fu was separated from his fellow students.
‘The communist party started to take revenge against the student leaders, and I was forced to surrender to the public security.
‘I was writing confessions day and night, being treated like a criminal by a special interrogation team,’ he says.
Fu was given a biography of a Chinese pastor by one of his teachers, which told the story of a Chinese intellectual who had converted to Christianity. ‘Reading that book really changed my whole life. I just felt, “Wow, this is the living God. Only he can change you from the inside out.”’
He adds: ‘I saw not only the darkness of my own heart, because I was even considering a suicide bomb campaign to kill myself and my enemies because of the despair and disillusionment.
‘But also I saw these powerful words, beautiful sentences, that later on I knew were from scripture. Things like: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” [2 Corinthians 5:17]. I was totally convicted, and said: “I want to surrender to this living Lord.”’
Fu was one of the first Christians at his university, but many others followed suit. ‘After that, the Holy Spirit worked like popcorn. Every day we had new believers,’ he says.
A small house church was established near the university, which he helped lead. It was mostly made up of students and university professors who met in homes, parks or hired hotel conference rooms. Meetings were regularly disrupted and members dispersed when the authorities turned up. Today, the church has nearly 10,000 members.
Having finished university, Fu began teaching English. ‘In the daytime I was teaching English to the Communist Party leaders. In the evening and the rest of my time I was busy riding my bicycle, sharing the gospel,’ he says.
IMPRISONMENT, INTERROGATION AND BEATINGS
Persecution was not new for Fu, but while he had suffered for his political views in the past, he started to experience persecution for his newfound faith. In 1996, he and his wife Heidi were arrested for ‘illegal evangelism’ and imprisoned. He was interrogated for the first 48 hours and beaten.
‘When I refused to tell them the names of others in my church, they quoted Romans 13, and said: “Doesn’t your Bible tell you to submit to the authorities? You need to tell us the truth.”
I said: “Well, do you acknowledge that your authority is from the Lord?”’
I WAS EVEN CONSIDERING A SUICIDE BOMB CAMPAIGN TO KILL MYSELF AND MY ENEMIES
Although it was a very difficult time, Fu is able to reflect positively on his incarceration. ‘I really felt it became a tremendous blessing,’ he says. ‘By the end of the two months, everyone in my cell came to me asking [questions about] the gospel…I am sure some have become followers of Jesus Christ; even the drug dealers.’
CSW, Jubilee campaign, Open Doors and Release International were among the charities that campaigned for the couple’s release. It was granted after two months, but they were followed constantly by two special agents.
ESCAPING TO SAFETY
Having discovered that they were on the rearrest list and that Heidi was pregnant without permission – meaning she could face an enforced abortion – they decided to flee. Fu’s escape involved jumping out of the window of a building, and losing his glasses in the process.
Disguising his wife so that her pregnancy would not be noticed, the couple hid in the countryside near Beijing until they could get to Hong Kong. From there, they managed to get visas for the US. ‘It was nothing short of a miracle,’ says Fu.
Diagnosed with cancer in 2013, Fu now lives in exile in Texas. He runs non-profit organisation China Aid, which supports persecuted Christians in China and has been successful in extracting persecuted Christian leaders and political dissidents to exile in the West.
‘China is experiencing the worst persecution since the time of the Cultural Revolution,’ says Fu. ‘Even the government-sanctioned churches are under intensive persecution. The Chinese Communist Party still regards Christianity and Christians as a threat, as an enemy.
‘Christians in the West can pray for their persecuted brothers and sisters…Even pray for the persecutors that God can really inspire them to know that in order to have real stability in the country, they need to treat Christians with respect and justice.
‘We can support those persecuted brothers and sisters by providing financial support and legal aid, and we can reach out to those Chinese students…hundreds of thousands of them…to make sure they not only come [to the US and UK] to study and get a university degree, but also to get the gospel of Jesus Christ back to China.’
BOB FU’s written an autobiography, God’s Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian’s Fight for Freedom (Baker Books) is available now
Click here to receive your free copy of Premier Christianity magazine.