I just finished reading A Heart for Freedom, the memoir of Chai Ling, commander-in-chief of the student protesters at Tiananmen Square in China. It’s an incredible story as she recounts her family life growing up in rural China, the events leading up to the massacre in 1989 and her daring escape from China. Although I was familiar with the incident and the images from the massacre, this book helped me better understand what exactly happened in 1989. Even now as I look up stories about the incident, it’s unclear how many people died that day – I have found reports ranging from hundreds to upwards of 2,400 people killed in the massacre.
Chai Ling eventually settled in the United States. In the book she talks about the culture shock she experienced and the challenges of adjusting to life in America. She went on to complete her education at Princeton and Harvard, and became a successful entrepreneur. Her desire for freedom and democracy in China continues, despite being unable to return to her home country. She became a Christian just a couple of years ago and God has given her a new mission in life: to confront the one-child policy in China; to restore life, value and dignity to mothers and girls in China. It’s a personal fight for Chai Ling – she herself was a victim of three forced abortions in China. She has started an organization to help the women and girls in China, called All Girls Allowed. In her book, she shared some startling statistics about abortion in China:
“The law in China, both then and now, was that a woman could not legally give birth without a birth permit, and permits were not issued to unmarried women or to any woman under twenty-five years old. According to Chinese government statistics for 2009 and 2010, 70 percent of the 16 million abortions each year — that’s 11.2 million women and children affected — are for unmarried woman.” – A Heart for Freedom, page 296
“With more than four hundred million lives taken in the past thirty years, ending China’s one-child policy, the forced and coerced abortion and gendercide of girls, is the most profound social justice cause in the world today. It is one that should unite people on both sides of the abortion issue. Chinese women have no choice, and their babies have no life….Every 2.5 seconds, a baby’s life is taken by abortion in China. Every day, hundreds of baby girls are abandoned and five hundred woman commit suicide. Most of the world does not know about this tragedy.” – A Heart for Freedom, page 301
This book is eye-opening and inspiring. Her spiritual journey to finding Christ and becoming his follower is just amazing. She often asked herself after the Tiananmen Square massacre, why did she survive when so many others died? She finally has an answer, after more than twenty years:
“For the first time, I understand why I was kept alive and how God has prepared me each step of the way for this moment of history, for All Girls Allowed and more. Through my journey with God, he has removed my blindfold, showing me a world I never knew existed. I now have a deeper sense of God’s passion to save his children and creation, his love for humanity and his forgiveness for me and for everyone. Not only has he healed me and forgiven me, he has also blessed me with a wonderful husband and three beautiful children. This journey has led me to understand more and more of God’s grace and forgiveness. If he can forgive my sins, whose sins can he not forgive? Whose sins can I not forgive?” – A Heart for Freedom, page 303