Tiananmen Square, Christianity, and What We Can Learn

tiananmensquareToday marks the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. I was exactly 24 days old at the time. For me, Tiananmen is something I read about in history books, yet the implications still affect our world today and as Christians, we have a distinct perspective to offer.

First, we must weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). Though official numbers are unknown, at least hundreds of individuals died that day leaving behind thousands of family members to mourn their loss. Even greater, many of these men and women lost their lives without knowing the truth of the Gospel. We must press on, knowing the urgency and scale of our mission.

At the same time we can learn from the protestors and in particular, the fear-based decision making of many of the government officials. It is easy to condemn the Chinese government for their decisions, and to be sure, they must be held responsible for their actions; however, when pushed their motives will likely resonate with many of us. For many leaders, the students and protestors represented a threat to the stability of the nation – a nation they worked hard to rebuild after the Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong. They valued safety and stability above all else…

How many times have we valued the safety of our children and families above the greater, more difficult decision to follow God in total obedience?

To add to the pressure, in the days leading up to the massacre, the first meeting of the Sino-Soviet talks in 30 years was happening with Mikhail Gorbechev…

How many times have we let others’ opinion of us determine our actions?

One of the demands of the protestors was to end censorship of private media. Other demands were to encourage democracy and admit the wrongs committed during the Cultural Revolution…

How often do we try to censor the story of our mistakes rather than own them fully and face the consequences squarely?

To be sure, there were legitimate wrongs committed in Beijing and throughout China during the time of Tiananmen Square. However, as Christians with the benefit of 25 years perspective we can more clearly understand the mindset and the “rationale” behind the Massacre. We also have the freedom to live our lives not based out of fear of the world, others’ opinions, or consequences, but to live our lives in the freedom of Christ knowing we trust in a sovereign, just, and merciful God.

Despite the crackdown on anti-government activity, including Christianity, the church in China has continued to grow at a staggering rate. We take confidence in the clear expression of God’s power that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church (Matthew 16:18). Today, 25 years after Tiananmen and more than 40 years after the Cultural Revolution, the church in China is on the path to become the World’s Most Christian Nation within 15 years. No longer is China solely the recipient of foreign missionaries; now they are sending their own missionaries into the world, notably to North Korea.

Still, there is a lot of work ahead in the world’s most populous country. The harvest is ripe, but the laborers are few.

Will you pray today for the laborers, both foreign and domestic, in China? Pray for their safety, ability to remain faithful amidst persecution, and pray their words would stir the hearts of the millions of Chinese people yet to know Jesus and their Lord and Savior.

-Taylor Beard