(Photo: A. Larry Ross Communications)
It was 1996 and Bob and Heidi Fu had a decision to make. Earlier that year, the Chinese Christian house church leaders had been imprisoned for illegally evangelizing and were now under house arrest. On top of that, Heidi had recently discovered she was pregnant with the couple's first child but had failed to obtain a pregnancy permit; the couple was scared that if they stayed in the country, she would be forced to get an abortion.
After hearing rumors that they would likely both be re-jailed, the Fu's decided to make a run for it, successfully fleeing first to Thailand and later to Hong Kong. There, the couple spent eight months, where Heidi gave birth to the couple's first child. Three days before China assumed political control over Hong Kong, the Clinton administration accepted them as refugees.
Nearly 20 years later, the Fu's live with their three children in Midland, Texas, where Bob is the founder and president of China Aid, a legal group that advocates for religious freedom rights in China. He recently authored "God's Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian's Fight for Freedom," an autobiography of his life as a political and religious Chinese dissident.
China's rapid and wildly heralded transition into an economic and military power provided one of Fu's impetuses to write the book.
"[The] Chinese human rights situation really demands or requires more public education to the free world because people now see China more on the economic booming, skyscrapers…the military might, but not very many, from the freedom deficit and repressive and also the freedom hungry inside China," Fu told The Christian Post.
"I finally felt maybe it's time to just narrate this story, with my own my life as example that where China had been, and what China is going through now and what kind of difference we can make, individually, if we dedicate for freedom fighting nation," he added.
As China's own influence has grown, Fu has seen his own public recognition increase in recent years, culminating with the case of the Chinese "barefoot lawyer," blind political activist, Chen Guangcheng.
In 2011, Chen escaped from house arrest and fled to the American embassy. After Chen, who broke his foot in the process of his escape, was sent to a hospital in Beijing, he testified to Congress in an emergency hearing through Fu's cell phone and with Fu translating. Fu and his organization also supported Chen when he was subsequently offered a fellowship at N.Y.U.
Fu expressed admiration for Chen's unflinching resolution to stand up to his own country.
"The courage, the boldness, for a blind man to stand up to the huge, gigantic tyranny, dictatorship. Almost now when we are in the human rights field, so many Americans, Europeans tell me when we talk about human rights in Sudan or Somalia they have no hesitation to take it and fight. said Fu.
"But everyone is afraid of China and everyone finds excuse, "Oh China, that's a different story, you always find that pause, reflection," he said.
"From day one when had met with Chen GuangChong…I rarely see he has second thoughts about [the risks,]" he added.
Fu also demonstrated a fearlessness towards the Chinese government that began early in his life. As a student, he organized his peers to participate in the Tiananmen Square student protests.
It was ultimately after authorities cracked down on him for his work and his friends began to shun him, that he found Christianity.
"When I first became a Christian I felt so overwhelmed by the transforming power of my faith and I was so zealous of sharing the Gospel, you know, sometimes really in the wrong ways because I didn't know much but I was still zealous," he laughed.
"In the beginning of our baby faith, we were pretty much shared our faith, with fellow classmates, in college, with almost a small, scale revival there," he added.
Fu's dream for China is that his homeland will legally, culturally and socially embrace religious freedom.
"My vision, and my prayer is that China…[will have] true freedom of belief and rule of law in the form of a constitutionalism can be established with the foundation of law of justice instead of this class struggle, can be established so anyone can really according can worship freely without fear," he said.
Fu said that Christians on the ground do not face every day persecution.
"Most of China, unless you are in a very sensitive area, unless you belong to the Communist party membership or leadership, or are part of the military, it is at least tolerated to be called as a Christian and you are facing some type of discrimination but not like active persecution for being simply called a Christian," he said.
But that does not mean the government has adopted a laissez-faire attitude towards religion.
"Many Christians are still in prison for simply believing and preaching the Gospel and for simply refusing to join the government sanctioned church, for simply advocating for basic freedom, for helping others by doing good deeds…so the persecution does exist," he said.
Yet Fu believes that God is active and alive in China.
"In China, God is much more vivid and preached in 2013 than in any really time in Chinese history," said Fu.
"And yes, his name, God's name, is not allowed to preached, to be even appear in any like public square, even the government sanctioned churches cannot do advertisements and no Bible is allowed to be sold from any public book store, so you're not really allowed to any evangelism outside of the government church buildings—yet there are truth, Bible, faithful believers who have been knowing the risk of being persecuted; they continue to travel from village to another, from one factory to another shop, to share this gospel and, and I think in spite of all this persecution. I think God is visible and invisible at the same time," he added.
God's Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian's Fight for Freedom is available at ChristianBook.com.