My grandfather, a country doctor in north China, became the first Christian in our family through a CIM missionary. Later, he also became the first member of my family to suffer persecution when he was tortured to death during the 1947-48 Communist land reform.
My father, the eldest son, graduated from a Christian high school just as the Japanese army invaded north China. He was severely beaten by Japanese soldiers for helping the church provide food and shelter to Chinese refugees. He made his way to southwest China, completed seminary training, and was ordained.
In 1954-55, when the government closed most churches, my father was denounced for propagandizing "spiritual idealism" and our family was given a "black" label, meaning we were to be totally ostracized. My mother divorced my father and left me at age five. Forced out of the parsonage, we lived in a shack at the back of the churchyard, which became a factory. Father was forced to do hard labor for the next 25 years. My only childhood memory is being hungry all the time.
As a young boy, I could only see that my family was responsible for my being bullied at school. When the Red Guards were sent out of the cities to the countryside, I volunteered to go. In November 1968, 12 teenagers arrived in a very remote mountain village. Working hard 12 to 14 hours a day, we barely survived. Since my father was a "criminal," I was usually alone. Many times, I sat on top of a mountain watching the sheep and wishing I weren't alive.
I kept up my hope for the future by secretly reading anything I could find. After I managed to leave the village to work in a factory, I studied even harder, but still in secret. After Mao died, college entrance exams were resumed. I passed, despite very ...