LIFE IN EXILE
CHAPTER 7 Sacrificial Love
The Sister Who Willingly Sacrificed Herself(Psalm 110:3)
After I had gone through 21 years of Labor Reform, the Lord’s time had finally come. With His mighty and wonderful hands, He led me out of the Labor Camp. That was, in fact, nothing short of a miracle.
After my release in 1979, an American Chinese brother visited me. We had known each other since our youth prior to 1949, and were both past our 50’s when we reunited then. He said that in 1956 when overseas Christians learned about brothers and sisters in China being thrown into prisons and Labor Camps, they wanted to extend their loving care by sharing the burdens of persecuted Christians and their families. However, there was no way they could transmit the love offering to China. Later, they remitted the money to Hong Kong which was close to China, and awaited the opportunity to dispatch and distribute it to needy members in China. For years, though, no one in China dared to accept the large sum of money. Thank God that later a sister named Pearl Dong (mentioned in previous chapters), was willing to receive it despite the implicated risk and difficulty. Oh, thank God that in His hand there was such a fitting vessel who was willing to sacrifice herself (Ref. Psa. 110:3).
Brothers and sisters, if only you had a little knowledge of China’s social condition at the time, you would understand that whoever accepted the money from abroad would immediately be suspected of being an imperialist “spy” or “secret agent”, and would be questioned by the “highly skeptical” Public Security Bureau – for instance: “Where did the money come from?” … “What’s your relationship with the senders?” “How’s the money going to be used?” The outcome would definitely be dreadful.
There were almost 4,000 registered church members in the large church which I attended in Shanghai, yet none of them dared accept the Lord’s offering – this was understandable in view of the dangerous circumstances then. After sister Dong had bravely received the Lord’s offering set apart for divine work, she spent time every day buying food and sending parcels. Thank God that she did not discriminate respecting denominations! She sent parcels to brothers and sisters whom she knew were in prisons and Labor Camps for the Lord’s sake, regardless of their denominational backgrounds. It was the time of the so-called “Three-year Natural Calamities” when the post office prohibited the mailing of food, especially to Labor Camps - rationalizing that it did not make sense to send food produced in the countryside back to the countryside. It was very difficult to mail food, as parcels had to be inspected by the post office before being mailed out. Every time sister Dong went to the post office, she had to bring two parcels of the same color, shape, size and weight. Of these two parcels, one was prepared for postal inspection and did not contain food whereas the other one containing food was intended to skip the inspection. She kept the food parcel in a bag as she allowed the postal worker inspect the parcel without food. As she was doing the wrapping and sewing up after the inspection, she then secretly substituted the inspected parcel with the food parcel. As the post office was often very crowded, she was able to do so without being noticed. That was how she succeeded in sending the food parcels to the prisoners. She did not mind the trouble of sending the parcels one by one, taking the risk many times each month and using different post offices for fear of being suspected. Do you see how hard she labored? Finally, during the Cultural Revolution, she was caught sending food parcels to prisoners. She was arrested for “sympathizing with counter-revolutionary elements” and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
When she was sentenced to prison, it seemed like the Lord knew that her mission had already been accomplished, for by that time our Labor Camp had already moved to Anhui. About two years later (in 1964), with the recovery of rice production, the living condition in Labor Camps had improved and hunger was no longer a threat. It was then that sister Dong was imprisoned.
Did sister Dong “commit a fraud” by “cheating the government,” thus sinning against God? In answer to this question, I think we should look at it in the following manner. In the Bible, two Hebrew midwives disobeyed Pharaoh’s command by refusing to throw the Hebrew newborn sons into the river. God then treated them well and made them houses (Ex. 1:17-21). Here, God showed us a principle: when a governing authority acts against God’s principle (“for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of them that do well” - I Pet. 2:14) by killing and mistreating the innocent, God delights and appreciates whoever steps forward, despite risks, by standing on God’s side and suffering persecution for righteousness’ sake. When the mortality rate is high and a brother’s life is threatened by starvation, but the evil government does not allow relatives to extend a helping hand, then we should not be bound by the evil power. Rather, we should bravely stand up as sister Dong did, especially if the person concerned is an innocent brother sentenced for the Lord’s sake. Blessed is the person who is sentenced and persecuted for the sake of righteousness for, as the Lord says, the kingdom of heaven is his (Matt. 5:10).