People Seeking the Truth, Part 2: “That Incident Totally Wiped Out What I Hoped For”

458101485.jpg

Editor’s note: Grace transforms. In recent decades, millions of Chinese people have met Jesus and had their lives turned inside out. Their hopes, dreams, families, leisure, and (in some cases) occupations have changed because of Christ. This is the second of a five-part interview series with “Tim,” a Chinese ministry leader. In this series, Tim shares his story of faith.Our hope is that these interviews challenge and encourage Western believers to examine their own faith and remind them to pray for their brothers and sisters in China.

You were a student in Beijing in the late 1980s. Would you be comfortable telling me how the Tiananmen Square incident impacted you?

In 1989 I was an undergrad in Beijing. A student from another school mentioned we needed to protest the corruption in the government: the children of top leaders were making a lot of money by bribery and other things. The students organized, and they went to protest. I attended several of those protests. I did not attend the June 4th event at Tiananmen Square. 

I saw that people were organized and motivated, but I also saw that even the student leaders were not unified because of stress, their own ambition, and their lack of teamwork. [I am a big guy] so I was assigned to be a bodyguard for the student leaders at night. Their base was in the center of the group, and we were assigned to watch who could go inside and who could not. Several times I saw them fighting with one another. When there were disagreements, leaders were removed and new ones came in. I could see they were immature. But I also saw the impact. Throughout the whole country, in many major cities, people came together to protest. It was a big thing.

Did you feel sympathetic to their aims?


Never miss a story

Sign up to receive our weekly email with our original articles.

What they wanted, in many ways, was reasonable. I was willing to be part of it.

You weren’t there the night of the June 4th incident, but you remember the next morning. 

The next morning pictures were put on the wall of the gate, and I saw that students were killed. I also saw photos showing that military trucks were burned. People were talking. 

The people who went that night came back and told us stories, everybody was scared. We didn’t know what to do. We tried to listen to Voice of America. It had all kinds of news, but much of it was not true. There was a sense of confusion and anger. We were angry about the incident, angry that people would shoot at and hurt the students. We felt the injustice; we felt hopeless and, in some ways, scared. 

But I didn’t attend any of those events. I was not a student leader, and I didn’t see what we could do. The small group I was together with talked about what we could do. I realized people slowly, one by one, disappeared. They tried their best to run away.

Run away to where? 

They went back to their hometowns. 

After three days we realized all the students were trying their best to run away. So we, as a group from the same area, tried to find the best way [to leave Beijing]. There was a train near us to a nearby province. We got on that train, and the captain of the train saw us. He actually had great sympathy for us students – we were given a meal for free, and there was no charge for the train tickets. We went to that province with my classmate, then took a train across the country. We spent a night in another city, then finally took a train to our home province. The whole time, we didn’t pay any money. We just said that we were students, and they didn’t charge us.At that time, when students said they were a part of the protests, the trains across China did not charge them money. 

When we arrived at the next-to-last stop, it was early in the morning, and we had to wait for the afternoon train. It was summer at that time; it was hot and humid. There were mosquitoes. My friends and I lay on the floor outside of the window, and slept outside the train station. I slept deeply, I was tired after a couple of days on the train. A thief took my bag away, and I lost everything.

When we arrived in our province, there was no one there. I waited two days in the province capital, and my father finally found a driver, so I went back home with him.

Your parents thought they had seen you on TV?

When I finally arrived home my parents said they had a video recorder and had been watching CCTV Channel 1. Every day, they showed the student protests and the military. There is a video with a student standing in the center of the street and facing the tank. The student is waving his flag, and he then climbs on the tank. From the back, even from the side, he looked exactly the same as me! Then my father realized that guy was a little bit shorter than me. They finally felt relieved, and said, “This is not my son.” 

But I heard that someone took that student away slowly, others said he disappeared or died. I don’t know.

What was your emotional state at that time? I’ve heard many people describe that event as a disillusioning experience. Did it impact you? And if so, how?

I was scared, definitely. Also confused and angry. Every day my parents talked to me and said, “You need to be careful. Be quiet.” 

In the middle of July I received a letter from the school saying I needed to report back to school within ten days. Those who were late or did not report would receive consequences. Before I left, my parents talked to me and encouraged me to obedient and do whatever was needed. 

It took me a couple days to go back to Beijing. The students met and we had a month or so to study politics. Every day we did this, and we wrote down our thoughts: how we could obey the new policies, how the decisions were right, and how we needed to follow them. The students that were at the June 4 incident had to sign the report. At night, I still remember that we students silently and secretly met together or listened to the Voice of America. People who went that night told the story. We continued to talk about it for a couple of months.

And after that?

After a couple of months things slowed down. When the army moved out, people went back to normal. But I could still sense that the Beijing residents, the local people, were pressuring themselves to hide their anger and mistrust. That night some local people died, too. After [leaving] work, they had accidentally been alongside Tiananmen Square and were shot. Many people lost their lives, not only the students. It is a very sad story.

Did it change anything for you, or not?

I think it actually changed us. I and the other students had a very, very deep disappointment with the government and with socialism because of that incident. In some ways we gave up that belief. We needed to study, but nobody cared. Even the teacher who taught us showed us he was basically just following the rules. 

Everybody was doing the right things on the outside but inside you thought, what’s the point?

People were scared to share their deep thoughts. They were afraid to be accused.

Many of the student leaders of Tiananmen later became Christians. Do you think the incident paved the way for you to accept Christ later?

Definitely. That was a changing point in many ways. Before, I might have still had a certain level of idealism, of hope for socialism or for the government. But that incident totally wiped out what I hoped for. I became a person who did not believe in anything. I didn’t trust anyone, I didn’t trust anything.

Share This Story

Further Reading

yifei-wong-HfLKjg2ic64-unsplash
Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
Read More
kenneth-yang-lJWJLkwIsng-unsplash(1)
Nanjing: A Welcoming City of Newcomers
Read More
lee-shuke-h3-ZEAAt_3s-unsplash
Nanjing: A Relational Gospel
Read More

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

Videos

ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

Videos

Stories from Shenyang

About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

Videos

Stories from Qingdao

About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

Videos

Stories from Xiamen

About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Videos

Stories from Chongqing

About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

Videos

Stories from Nanjing

About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

Videos

Stories from Changchun

About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

Videos

Stories from Guangzhou

About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

Videos

Stories from Kunming

About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

Videos

Stories from Shenzhen

About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

Videos

Stories from Chengdu

About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

Videos

Stories from Beijing

About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

Videos

Stories from Shanghai

give

A short message about partnering with us.