Cover Story

China beachhead

"China beachhead" Continued...

Issue: "China's abortion regime," July 26, 2014

GROUND WORK: Mother and child that Sarah Huang helped save.
Photo by June Cheng
GROUND WORK: Mother and child that Sarah Huang helped save.
Huang doesn’t seem to have a free minute, as she’s off teaching sex ed in rural villages one week, then visiting abortion clinics and hospitals to talk young women out of having abortions the next. Every time at least one or two girls end up taking her phone number and giving her a call, and she’s even built a relationship with the aforementioned abortionist.

In spite of the lives saved, Huang finds it difficult to get support from the local church: Churches that can’t even afford to pay their pastors don’t have money to support other causes. CLA faces other trials as well: Earlier this year government officials arrested several workers connected to CLA and told them the organization was under investigation. Police officers stymied a planned national pro-life conference for church leaders in March, yet pastors still met at a different location to pray and repent for abortions in the church. 

JIM PETERS*, A VETERAN AMERICAN PRO-LIFE ACTIVIST, has also turned his focus from the United States to China, where he saw firsthand in 2010 how desperately the church needed to hear what the Bible says about abortion. With his pastoral background, he points to passages such as Luke 1—where John the Baptist leaps in Elizabeth’s womb at Mary’s and the just-conceived Jesus’ arrival—to show what the Bible says about when life begins. Peters, who travels back and forth between China and the United States, hired Wang to work full-time at the ministry training church leaders all over the country.

Even if pastors are at first hesitant to hear the message, once Wang starts preaching, “their eyes get bigger, and if I speak for an hour, they’ll listen. If I talk for four hours, they’ll listen.” He’s even been able to teach at state-recognized Three Self churches to packed audiences of 700-800 people.

It’s often after the teaching that the most challenging work begins. Ruth Wu*, a bubbly young woman, remembers feeling convicted when Wang came to preach about abortion at a church she was visiting. A few days later, she found out she was pregnant with the child of her ex-boyfriend.

“In my heart my thought was to obey God, but realistically it seemed like I couldn’t [keep the baby], because my parents would not understand or support it.” So she went to the hospital for an abortion three times, but each time she ended up walking out. She called Wang asking for help, and through his church he found her a job and a place to stay. Throughout her pregnancy—which she kept secret from her family—church members brought her food and visited her, staying by her side in the delivery room. Once the baby girl was born, an older couple in the church privately took her in.

Months later, Wu married David, her Bible study leader, and the two of them have joined the U.S.-based nonprofit All Girls Allowed in hopes of helping other young women in similar situations. AGA, founded by former Tiananmen student leader Chai Ling, works in China giving financial assistance to women at risk of aborting their babies, which opens up opportunities to share the gospel with these families.

FIVE LIVES SAVED: Pink-and-yellow pregnancy center inside the hospital.
Photo by June Cheng
FIVE LIVES SAVED: Pink-and-yellow pregnancy center inside the hospital.
At another church where Wang shared the message, members mentioned to him that a nearby hospital had a Christian director and several Christian nurses—why don’t they try to open a pregnancy center in the hospital? The director agreed, and required every woman coming in for an abortion to first pass through the pink-and-yellow room and speak with a volunteer counselor. At first about 20 volunteers showed up for the PHC training from Peters and other American pro-life activists, but the number dropped down to 10 when the center opened in May 2013.

In the year that the center has been open, five babies have been saved, said volunteer Mary Chen*, as she showed me iPhone photos of the chubby-cheeked babies bundled up in blankets. Most are from single mothers who are now married to their boyfriends. But difficulties started to arise in March when the hospital placed a doctor in charge of the center who would not let the counselors meet with the patients. The volunteers were relegated to making follow-up calls to women who have just had their abortions.

But the bigger problem is that even if the counselors could meet with patients, there wouldn’t be enough people to staff the center. The number of volunteers has dwindled to three due to busy work schedules and disagreements between Three Self and house churches, and Chen wonders if the center could find a way to hire paid staff. She said she knows the opportunity to have a life-saving center in the hospital is God-ordained, and can only pray for solutions to their problems.

—June Cheng is a writer reporting from China.

*WORLD used pseudonyms to protect the lives of these sources

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