Bob Fu is probably the world's best-known Chinese Christian. He lives in exile in Midland, Texas, where he runs the nonprofit organization ChinaAid, which supports human rights in his homeland. ChinaAid has been successful in extracting persecuted Christian leaders and political dissidents from China to safety in the West. In his autobiography, God's Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian's Fight for Freedom, Mr. Fu recounts the inspiring story of his personal spiritual journey, his persecution in China, and his escape to the U.S.
One of the epigraphs to God's Double Agent comes from the late Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong's last wife and one of the radical Chinese Communist leaders known as the Gang of Four, whose brutal policies created enormous suffering during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. In Jiang's words, "Christianity in China has been confined to the history section of the museum. It is dead and buried."
Jiang, who committed suicide in 1991, did not live to see how wrong her pronouncement turned out to be. A remarkable fact of life in China in recent years is the explosive growth of Christianity. The number of Christians in China is estimated at between 100 million and 130 million. Which brings us to another astonishing fact: There are more Christians in China today than there are members of the Communist Party, whose rolls number about 82 million.
China is not the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian, but, as God's Double Agent chillingly describes, Chinese Christians must live out their faith in a hostile environment. Beijing does not ban Christianity outright. Instead, it seeks to control it. It does so by various means, including channeling worshippers into official, government-sponsored churches; banning the printing of Bibles; limiting church-based social services; and monitoring the activities of religious leaders. Christians go to jail for distributing religious materials, founding unlicensed house churches, opposing abortion, criticizing the government, and other perceived transgressions.
Count Bob Fu guilty of all such "crimes." As Mr. Fu recounts in God's Double Agent, he and his wife Heidi fled China for the U.S. in 1997 after being tipped off that the police were planning to arrest them. They had already spent time in prison for their illegal religious activities and were not eager to repeat the experience.
Another reason for the Fus' decision to flee China was personal: Mrs. Fu was pregnant without the approval of the local family-planning authorities. As Mr. Fu explains, "To begin a family, couples were required to get a pregnancy permission card—a yellow card—before the woman could legally succeed." Without the all-important yellow card, a pregnant woman could be forced to undergo an abortion, even late in her pregnancy.
Mr. Fu makes a dark joke about the couple's "bedroom civil disobedience," but the consequences of such behavior were potentially enormous. He tells how family planning officials force women to undergo pregnancy tests and how ordinary citizens are expected to report women who look pregnant. "While we were filled with joy over Heidi's pregnancy," he writes, "we were also filled with trepidation."