On the eve of the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, three former leaders of the pro-democracy demonstrations gathered Thursday night in Falls Church, Va., to share their memories and experiences since 1989.
Capt. Xiong Yan, Chai Ling and the Rev. Bob Fu were icons of the movement in China. Each remembers leading a group of students into the square, united by the “human spirit yearning for freedom,” Mr. Fu said during a prayer service sponsored by China Aid at the History Sanctuary.
And all three recalled the tanks surrounding the square to attack. Mr. Xiong recalled when the first shots were fired, and his fellow students were strewn bleeding across the ground.
“Whenever I close my eyes, that picture will come up again,” Mr. Xiong told the gathering.
But instead of trying to make a political statement with their stories, the three former pro-democracy leaders, now successful in their chosen fields, spent the anniversary praying for victims and perpetrators alike.
One by one, they gave their testimonies and led a group of 55 attendees in prayer, speaking in Chinese and English.
Mr. Xiong drew attention to the victims of Tiananmen and their relatives who suffered loss and subsequent discrimination. He asked the congregation to pray for those who were still in pain.
Mr. Fu described some instances of persecution Chinese face if they choose to become Christians. He particularly stressed the story of Alim, a Uyghur man imprisoned for his faith.
All the while, the three also prayed for those causing the suffering: the soldiers at Tiananmen, the bureaucrats administering the One-Child Policy and the regime’s officials.
“Lord, forgive them!” was Mrs. Chai’s impassioned plea as she led the prayer, and the room echoed with affirmation from the attendees.
“This is not a political campaign with an aim to overthrow the Chinese government,” Mr. Fu said.
The theme throughout the night, even as the terrible memories could not be forgotten, was forgiveness - the only way the three former student leaders said they thought that China could be healed.
“We want to pray for the victims and for the leaders, that they will come to Christ,” Mrs. Chai said.
The three leaders said they became Christians at different times, and each shared how much it changed his or her attitudes toward China.View Entire Story
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Michelle Phillips is a student intern with the Washington Times through the National Journalism Center covering international affairs.
After growing up overseas, Ms. Phillips returned to the U.S. to attend Rice University for her bachelor’s degree, and is entering her junior year there. She discovered her love of journalism in college while working for the school newspaper, the Rice Thresher, ...
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