As the 20th anniversary of the infamous Tiananmen Square massacre approaches, Chinese Christian leaders in America – many of whom were directly involved in the pro-democracy protest – are heading to Washington, D.C., to pray for a new era of hope and justice in communist China.
On June 4, the 20th anniversary of the bloody crackdown, Christian leaders from the United States and abroad will gather at the National Presbyterian Church to reaffirm a manifesto that calls for forgiveness, repentance, truth, justice and reconciliation in regards to the Tiananmen Square event.
"Prayer transcends history, politics and nationalities," said Bob Fu, founder of ChinaAid Association and a former student leader in the Tiananmen Square movement.
"On the day of the 20th anniversary of the June 4th massacre, this historic international prayer gathering calls for repentance for apathy and silence before injustice, for reconciliation and re-formation for a higher calling," he added.
In 1989, tens of thousands of pro-democracy students and intellectuals gathered near Tiananmen Square in Beijing to demand democratic reform and economic change. In response, the Chinese government used military force, including tanks, to crush the student-led protest. It is estimated that up to 3,000 students were killed in the crackdown, and more than 10,000 were later executed by the government.
"China is at a crossroad," said Fu, whose organization advocates on behalf of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in China. "We pray in unity that the international community will choose to stand in true solidarity with China's freedom pursuers without any wavering so that a God-fearing, human rights and dignity-respecting new China will emerge as a blessing to the whole world in the 21st century."
To commemorate the internationally historic event, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a hearing Tuesday for four former student leaders who shared their experiences and visions for the future of China.
Among the four were Bob Fu and Fang Zheng, whose legs were crushed by a military tank during the protest. Despite the loss of his legs, Fang broke two national records in the 1992 All-China Disabled Athletic Games. But the Chinese government has closely monitored him and kept him from participating in competitions.
He was forbidden to participate in the Far East and South Pacific region Games, and in the 2008 Special Olympics in Beijing.
The human rights commission of the U.S. House of Representatives also showed a screening of the Frontline documentary, "The Tank Man," in the theater of the U.S. Capitol.
So far, more than 220 Chinese Christian leaders have signed the manifesto for the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square event. The majority of the signers were directly involved in the student movement and suffered for their participation.
The manifesto recalls the tragic events that occurred on June 4, 1989, and calls on Chinese Christians to take on social responsibility and promote righteousness, and to forgive their enemies.
"We yearn to make this appeal to all Chinese Christian churches around the globe," reads the manifesto. "[T]o pray for the salvation of lost souls in our home country, for social justice and for the future of our race…"
Chinese Christians are encouraged to hold special prayer meetings to commemorate the June 4 Tiananmen Square event.