Chai Ling’s A Heart for Freedom (Tyndale, 2011) explains how she, a leader of China’s 1989 Tiananmen protests, became a Christian. It’s a good book, and two passages in particular struck home with me: one about the American press and one about something we take for granted, the opportunity to read the Bible.
First, the Bible: Chai Ling writes about a small Chinese village where no one is literate, but all venerate a copy of the Bible left by a missionary long ago, and prayed for someone who can read it. When a young person named Wang who could read showed up, “They were overjoyed and said their prayers had been answered. …With all eyes on him, he read the Word of God as the people listened intently. He said it was as if they had all fallen into a trance. No one moved or left. … Without feeling tired, he kept reading late into the night. Each time he paused, the peasants begged him for more.”
A typical American household, according to one survey, includes three Bibles, which sit there mostly unused.
Second, journalism: Chai Ling writes that The New York Times, The Washington Post, and a community newspaper interviewed her, and then stunned her by running similarly inaccurate stories: “Whether it was true did not seem to matter. I could not believe it. This was the free media we had worshiped and sacrificed our lives for in Tiananmen? What was the difference between these ‘independent’ reports and the stories in the Communist-controlled state newspaper in China? Same story line, same message from the big flagship paper to the small local one.”
All the more reason to keep going with WORLD’s independent journalism. And it would be great someday to have a China WORLD that could report on the brave efforts of the next generation of Chai Lings.