THE RICH MAN AND THE PRAYER WARRIOR
CHAPTER 4 (read the whole story here)
The Public Security Bureau had just taken away Li Ying that morning. Brother Wu and his friends were still recovering from the shock, and hesitantly asked Chris Blake if he could help, wondering aloud whether Blake’s connections at the U.S. Embassy could find out where she was.
Chris promised to do all he could, but knew there was only one real solution to this tragic situation.
“Let’s pray,” Chris said. “I’m just a visitor here, and don’t know what I can do, but God can help.”
So Wu Ming, the Lings, their nephew David and Chris Blake huddled together around the flickering iron stove in the center of the little house and passionately sought the Lord, warm tears running down their cheeks. “Jesus! We ask you to protect little Li Ying – don’t allow her to be harmed in any way. Place your angels around her to watch over her and protect her. And please bring her back to us. Soften the hearts of the police, and show us what to do. Thank you, Lord for your mercy.”
Time flowed … and Chris sensed a sweet spirit pass between him and these four new friends of his. There was a deep and unmistakable love that filled them, yet – there were tests to come.
Brother Wu slowly raised his eyes, looked at Chris and said, “Obviously, brother, God brought you here. This morning when the PSB stormed through those doors, we didn’t know what was happening. We’re still very upset, but we already see God at work by bringing you here. You’ve been a real comfort to us, and we’re thankful.”
“Brother Wu, I have to thank you and Mr. and Mrs. Ling for opening not only your home to me, but your hearts as well. In a time of loss, you’ve made me feel like part of your family, and I know that’s a bit unusual in your culture – no offense intended,” Chris apologized.
“None is taken,” assured Mr. Ling. “The bond between us is greater than our cultures. Our faith has helped us cross barriers that are difficult to break, even between most Chinese people and foreigners who have lived here for many years.”
“You know, Uncle, I may be able to get some information from the drivers I know at the Embassy. Excuse me while I go outside to make a phone call,” David said. “I won’t be long.”
“Let me tell you – what I’m feeling right now is like something out of my childhood,” Chris barely whispered. “The pain is so familiar that it’s almost physical. I can remember sitting on my grandmother’s lap when I was about six years old, listening to her tell stories like this, of children – and parents – being carried away, never to be seen again. When you first told me about Li Ying, I almost started to cry and I wasn’t sure why. But the emotion, pain and passion that my grandma shared with me in those old stories rushed back like they’d been lurking just below the surface, waiting for an opening.”
“But what would you know about this kind of pain?” Mrs. Ling said. “Here in China, Christians have suffered for generations – persecuted by Nationalists, Imperialists and Communists. Every group that’s come to power has used Christians as scapegoats for China’s problems. If the crops failed, it was the Christians’ fault. If the Yangtze flooded, it was because Christians had upset the ancestor spirits. If sickness invaded the villages, it was blamed on Christians, because we didn’t believe in some of the traditional healing methods.
“We are well-acquainted with grief, and we count it a privilege to share in the sufferings of Christ – to be counted worthy to partake in His afflictions,” Mrs. Ling went on. “We believe deeply in God’s faithfulness to us, because we’ve experienced it – over and over again. But what could you possibly know about this, Brother Blake? You live in the U.S. where you’re free to say and do as you please, you have a wonderful career flying big planes, and you probably have a beautiful home and cars, as well as plenty of food to eat.”
Sister Ling looked down, suddenly embarrassed by what she had said. What was she doing? She would never challenge a guest in her own home. It had been a very emotional day, and the strain was beginning to show.
“My sister, can I tell you what it was like growing up in the suburbs of a large U.S. city in the 1950s?” Chris asked. “I was treated like a despised foreigner in my own country. Every day I ran to school, hiding between buildings and trees, praying that no one would beat me up. At lunchtime, I ate alone and had no one to talk to. When my mother asked me to go to the corner store after school, boys would catch me, slap me in the face and take my family’s money. I was afraid to leave my house.
“There were times I’d come home from school crying, and my grandmother would say to me: ‘Now you listen to me, young man. Don’t you ever let those boys see you cry. You take pride in who you are and never fear any man! Your great-great grandfather and his family paid dearly so you could go to school and get a good job, vote and raise your children in a free country. Your ancestors were beaten and thrown into jail for no reason, some taken away and never seen again. We have reason to hate, but we don’t, and you know why? Because we’re God-fearing Christians.’”
“This is how we feel,” Wu Ming exclaimed. “But I never really understood how Americans could feel this way.”
“Well, like I said, my grandmother always told me stories about her great-grandparents and how they overcame intense suffering and persecution,” Chris responded. “They were kidnapped from Africa – trapped like animals and snatched away from their families. Then they were shipped to America as slaves. They were beaten, starved and sometimes worked to death. Many of them found their only hope in Jesus, and they prayed and sang together as they worked their hands raw picking cotton, cleaning horse stables and scrubbing floors. That racism touched me as a boy, and continues even to this day.
“My grandmother taught me to pray as soon as I could talk, and helped me forgive people who hate and mistreat me,” Chris continued. “Only God’s love and grace has helped me do this. Today, when we prayed together here, your suffering became my suffering. I experienced your pain, and was able to take it to the Lord with passion, because I understood what you were feeling. It’s beyond Li Ying – for the first time I think I understand the suffering of Chinese Christians. I can relate. I’m glad we had time to pray together, and that we’ve discovered this common bond – this ‘fellowship of persecution.’”
Mrs. Ling squirmed on her small stool, sobbing. “Please forgive me, Brother Chris,” she wept. “I judged you and I’m sorry. To me, you were a rich American who came to China just to see ‘the poor Chinese people’ and take a few pictures. But you have the same heart as I do. You’ve suffered like I have. You serve the same Jesus I do, and your prayers are as fervent and passionate as mine. I know you care for Li Ying, and will do what you can to protect her and get her back. Forgive me.”
“There’s nothing to forgive,” said Chris. “Forget about it. Let’s get started on finding Li Ying!”
To be continued …