China --Part 2

Part 2

Michael Brown

In the light of what we saw in China our conclusions are, nothing in current luxury-loving evangelical Christianity, known to us in the homelands, even begins to approximate the fearsome zeal and spirit of sacrifice shown by China’s politically-inspired youth. Unless we Christians therefore can show at least a similar dedication and conviction for the gospel we profess, our message would make little impression on a generation so passionately committed to its flaming destiny.

Certainly Christianity, as represented by modern missions, foreign-supported, fragmented, weakened by institutionally-geared policies, and retaining strategy-concepts at least two decades out of date, have little spiritual dynamic to challenge the anti-God power of militant Communism.

Carrying bedding rolls and personal belongings on bamboo poles “coolie” style, with red banners held high and wearing scarlet hung wai bing (Red Guard) armbands, groups of Red Guards from Kwongtung rural areas were crowding into Canton to exchange “revolutionary experiences” and see the taai tsz bo (bit character posters). Guards who come from distant provinces carry knapsacks.

Moving through the streets in military file they sing latest revolutionary “hit” songs, “Sailing the Seas Depends on the Helmsman,” and “The East is Red.” Sample verses from this north Shensi folk-song:

From the red east rises the sun,
In China appears Mao Tse-Tung,
He works for the people’s welfare,
He is the people’s great saviour.
The Communist Party is like the sun,
Wherever it shines there is light,
Where the Communist Party goes,
There the people are liberated.

Eager to demonstrate their loyalty to Mao and practise his teachings, they embark on Long March feats and perform menial tasks as examples to the masses. They carry reeking night-soil out to the fields and help wash city streets three times daily.

These militant “mini-Maos,” formidably indoctrinated in the works of their Leninist-leader, are not expected to resume normal studies until September this year. All middle-schools and universities are closed allowing students to participate in the Cultural Revolution.

Primary and infant schools are open half days only, their curriculum based exclusively on the study of Mao Tse-Tung’s “thoughts.” Children learn to read using Mao’s Quotations as their primer.

One heart-rending experience took place while visiting a commune nursery school. Little children sang an “action” song called “Down with the American paper-tigers.” Their dimpled fists struck out, and their little feet stamped as they cried, “Kill, kill, kill the American aggressors”!

From green-shoot years the children of China are being taught to hate, and indoctrinated in the soul-numbing, anti-god teaching of atheistic communism.

“Cultural Parks” holding 30 - 40 thousand people provide entertainment for the masses. Basketball courts, roller-skating rinks, and free open-air theatres producing quality Chinese - style opera and plays, perform to capacity audiences. All scenes have political significance.

One eye-catching number contained the currently popular song, “Chairman Mao’s words radiate with golden rays.” Nothing is too grand, no description too extravant for this modern mediator of Marxism.

Attending one of the free state cinemas we saw a recently released film showing Chairman Mao reviewing over 1 ½ million Red Guards in Peking’s Tin On Men Square. Every time the aging Mao appeared on the screen the audience loudly clapped. Before the film commenced the audience stood and sang “The East is Red,” the words being flashed on the screen, and when the film ended everyone stood again and sang “Sailing the Seas Depends on the Helmsman.”

While out walking alone, a group of friendly Red Guards stopped to chat. As we talked, an older man approached and suddenly dug me hard in the ribs asking roughly, “What country are you from?” Reeking of liquor the man was obviously drunk, so to humour him I smiled and said, “England.” “You have a king,” he snarled, “and used to exploit us Chinese — you foreign devils even kicked us!” A crowd began to gather drawn by the drunk’s loud voice. Highly embarrassed for me, the Red Guards quickly hustled the man down the street taking his name and address.

The only other incident occurred when talking with Red Guards in the midst of a milling crowd several thousands strong. This was Canton’s favourite gathering place for Guards who come to exchange experiences and “swop” the Mao-badges they wear over their hearts, a different design badge for every revolutionary centre in the country. I wanted to take a snap of several badges one Red Guard had collected and pinned on a cloth; as I lifted my camera several young toughs jostled me and thrust their book of Mao’s Quotations in front of the lense, shouting in my face, “Long live Chairman Mao.” They were obviously out to stir up trouble and kept yelling and haranguing the crowd around me. So deeming prudence the better part of valour I executed a dignified withdrawal through the crowd.

Our official guide stedfastly refused to talk about, or take me to, a church building to see the Red Guard posters plastered on walls and doors. When I persisted he said, “I do not know of any churches.” When challenged about the R.C. cathedral, a Canton landmark, he said, “I have not been that way for a long time.”

Canton, traditionally a seat of rebellion and noted for its fiery extremism, appears to have thoroughly purged all known churches in the current Cultural Revolution. This is not true of all southern cities however, only last week I learned in a roundabout way that one well-known centre in Kiangsi Province where Assembly missionaries once worked, still has an assembly guided by four elders meeting in the same place they have always used.

In Canton’s dimly lit but swarming evening streets, among political rallies I spoke with scores of Red Guards from places as far apart as Shanghai and Hainan, Kwongsi and Peking.

“Churches were finally destroyed last summer and covered with the sayings of Mao Tse-Tung,” I was told by teenagers who have never been to church in their lives.

Asked who they thought created the universe and gave man his being some replied, “Chairman Mao and the “thoughts” of Chairman Mao!” By which they meant his teachings were the distillation of that material force responsible, in their view, for the evolution of nature and human society.

Asked why no girls in China wear pretty clothes, only sombre uniforms, they replied, “We are not interested in pretty clothes, we are revolutionaries. If we used cosmetics it would mean we were parasites.”

Boy and girl-friend relationships just do not appear to exist, “We are pledged to Chairman Mao,” a pretty 17 year old girl Red Guard said.

The knoll which augers the final great “anti-religion” is already sounding in this oriental “Orwellian” state.

Leaving China via the fertile Shum Chun valley, the parting slogan, carved into the hillside, impudently mocks the “revisionists” and challenges the “religionists” — “Long live the great and invincible thoughts of Chairman Mao.”

What the “religionists” can never do, true, blood-redeemed saints of God must do. We ask seriously once more, is it not possible for God to open a way into China again, and that in our generation? Are we to write-off China, over 700 million people as an impossible gospel objective? God forbid — and God forbid that we should cease to pray for this vast land and limit the God whose glory it is to do impossible things.

China, and the Chinese generally, viewed as souls for whom Christ died, presents the greatest spiritual challenge of this present age; the potential is tremendous. May God lay a praying-burden on many hearts that troubled China will soon know the healing balm of Christ’s gospel proclaimed freely among its vast multitudes.