Pastor’s journey to forgiveness started 20 years ago in Tiananmen Square

Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of one of the darkest days in world history.

On June 4, 1989, the Chinese military violently quashed student protest and demands for democracy in Tiananmen Square. It’s hard to imagine anyone close to adulthood at that time wouldn’t have the image of the tank approaching the lone protester seared into their memory.

Undoubtedly, Zhang Boli does.

He was there.

Zhang is one of three student protest leaders who were profiled on National Public Radio (NPR) today on the eve of the anniversary.

His story is particularly significant because of his coming to Christ while imprisoned in Russia while on the run from Chinese authorities.

Today, he is pastor at Harvest Chinese Christian Church in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Fairfax, Va.

In prison, Zhang said his blossoming faith allowed him to move beyond being captive to his memories.

“True freedom lies in your own heart,” he told NPR.
Zhang webcasts his sermons in the hope of attracting and inspiring believers in China. To him it is an outreach to the persecuted church and his way of helping bring the Gospel to his homeland.

“If China believes in God, there will be more fairness, justice and love,” Zhang said.

Tuning in to Zhang’s speeches, or sharing much else, is difficult for the Chinese at the moment. Eager to silence cyber chat about the anniversary, the government has blocked access to Twitter, Flickr and Hotmail.

For Zhang such a power grab would likely do little to dissuade him from moving forward. Reflecting the peace he has received from his faith, his emphasis – inspirationally – is all about moving forward.

“I have forgiven (the Chinese government),” he said. “Forgiveness starts from the weak, not the strong.”


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