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Becoming a Christian

God's Double Agent begins with Mr. Fu's birth in 1968 in an impoverished village. As a child, he had zero exposure to Christianity and knew nothing about the concept of God. Yet, when his mother fell ill, he describes how he somehow felt compelled to fall to his knees and ask his "Heavenly Grandpa" to cure her. "It was my first prayer," he writes. Many years later, he recognized his childhood experience as the first time he felt God's hand at work in his life.

Mr. Fu became a Christian shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, when government tanks rolled over student protestors. He was a college student at the time and had taken part in the pro-democracy rallies in Beijing. "Those tanks didn't force China's brightest and most culturally engaged students back into conformity," he writes. "The tanks set them on a course to find truth." A friend gave him a biography of a Chinese intellectual, Xi Shengmo, who converted to Christianity and performed good works.

Mr. Fu quickly learned the necessity of being discreet about his new faith. Students aren't permitted to be Christians, he was told. If you proclaim your belief in the "Jesus religion," you'll be thrown out of school and will end up as a potato farmer. So he and fellow Christians began to worship secretly. "Even though we had to sneak around," he writes, "my new faith made my college life full of joy and gladness."

His college years in Shandong Province, southeast of Beijing, provided his first experience of the underground church. In graduate school and then as an English teacher at the Communist Party School in Beijing, he devoted more and more time to secretly spreading the gospel.

'My Spiritual Tiananmen'

In Beijing, he and Heidi attended a government-approved church until the authorities removed the popular pastor, who had been successful in growing the congregation. The Fus showed up at church one Sunday and found that the religious affairs bureau had installed a new pastor in the pulpit and undercover police agents in the pews. The new pastor "didn't even mention Jesus," he recalls.

Mr. Fu labels that experience "my spiritual Tiananmen." It was a factor in his decision to reject the notion—popular among some believers in China—that Christians can practice their faith fully in churches that answer to the government. The "ultimate lord" of the government-run church is communism, he concluded, and "God had no place in it."

The Fus anticipated that their underground evangelism would eventually catch the eye of the police and that they would end up in prison. They were right. They were arrested after police discovered the existence of an illegal Bible school they had established in a Beijing suburb.

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