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Chen Guangcheng’s Christian Faith

Postmillennialism —  Leave a comment

The Christian Post — The story of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng is the stuff of which movies are made: illiterate until he was in his twenties, he not only taught himself how to read, he taught himself the intricacies of Chinese law.

He used his legal skills to defend the victims of government oppression: disenfranchised peasants, the disabled, and women forced to have abortions as a result of China’s infamous “one-child” policy. This last effort officially made him an enemy of the state. He was arrested and convicted on what most observers consider to be trumped-up charges.

After serving fifty-one months in jail, he was placed under house arrest. In an effort to silence him, officials surrounded his home with guards, surveillance cameras and even installed a jamming device to prevent him from communicating with the outside.

In response, Chen played what the “New York Times” called a “cat and mouse game” with his would-be jailers: He tried to a dig a tunnel, smuggled videos and, finally, on April 22nd, he escaped. The escape was so well-executed that his jailers didn’t know he was gone until the following Thursday.

He then made his way, via a series of safe houses and with the help of fellow dissidents, three hundred miles to Beijing and, eventually, the U.S. Embassy.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that Chen is blind?

Throw in details like actor Christian Bale’s being manhandled by Chinese guards when he tried to visit Chen, and it’s little wonder that the media is all over the story. Yet, in all the coverage there is no mention of what motivates Chen Guangcheng: Namely, his Christian faith.

Chen is part of what is called the “weiquan movement.” It’s a group of “lawyers, activists, intellectuals and ordinary citizens who aim to push the boundaries of reform by using China’s existing laws and courts to defend human rights.” They are overwhelmingly Christian. Li Subin, one of the movement’s best-known activists, says that he takes his inspiration from Proverbs 21:3, “to do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”

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