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Liao bears witness to McDonald's life of sacrifice, and that would be reason enough to justify reading God is Red. But the width of his vision and his eye for telling detail set this book apart. During his reflections on McDonald, for example, he quotes aptly from the French poet Paul Valery. McDonald is said to have been the last missionary to leave China. "On her last day," Liao writes, "she ignored the threats of soldiers and went to pray at what is now the Old City Protestant Church built by missionaries in 1905. She was alone in the church surrounded by empty pews . . . McDonald made for the bell and struck it for the last time. The sound rippled through the city. Three old men drinking tea in the old city remember it. 'The chiming came in waves, resounding waves, one after another; people in Xiaguan could feel the vibration,' said one." One of Liao's interviews was with Wang Zisheng, the son of Wang Zhiming, who was arrested in 1969 and executed in 1973 after serving the Miao

Further reading: China's Book of Martyrs Paul Hattaway, Piquant, 2007 The author of The Heavenly Man offers a loving and extensive (656 pages) account of Chinese and missionary martyrs. It is estimated that since the Nestorians first introduced the Gospel to China in the 7th century, some 250,000 Christians have died for their faith, and since 1900, more than in all other countries combined.

A Heart for Freedom Chai Ling: Tyndale, 2011 This is the unique and inspiring story of a woman who led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989 while a student at the elite Peking University (founded by a missionary in 1898). After the tanks rolled in and the movement was crushed, she escaped to the United States, where she earned degrees from Princeton and Harvard before starting her own company. She became a Christian in 2009 and has begun All Girls Allowed, a ministry that opposes China's One-Child Policy and the 'gendercide' of unborn females.

people for many years. His martyrdom was commemorated in 1998 by a statue, one of 10 that recognize martyrs from around the world, above the Great West Door to Westminster Abbey in London. There are many stories of persecution in this book; Wang Zhiming is unique only in having been chosen for notice by the outside world. Liao is helping to redress this imbalance. Ironically, Wang Zisheng only learned about the honour paid to his father after the fact, and first saw pictures of the statue in 2002. "We all cried when we saw them," he said. "My father had fought against devils in those dark days and had triumphed." Did he feel bitter about the past? "No, I don't feel bitter. As Christians, we forgive the sinner and move on to the future. We are grateful for what we have today." Among the things they have today is a dramatically larger church, grown from less than 3,000 when his father was preaching to some 30,000 now. (The church in China numbers between 50 and 100 million now, up from well under 5 million when the Communists took over.) Following a return trip to Yunnan in 2009, Liao commented, "These trips have exhilarated me, lifting me out of my drunken depression. The stories of heroic Christians . . . inspired me, prompting me to write a book [about] a new Christian identity that is distinctively Chinese." Historian Philip Jenkins says, "It is very difficult to read Liao Yiwu's work without being constantly reminded of Christian struggles in the ancient Roman Empire, where a harassed minority was struggling to exist . . . Who can tell how the story will play out this time round?" The situation may be improving. Open Doors, an organization serving persecuted Christians, ranks nations according to how much persecution Christians suffer. This year China came 37th (moderate), down from 21st (severe) in 2012. Not committing itself too far, Open Doors makes this succinct comment: "Four issues get the church into trouble: when they are perceived as too powerful, too political, too foreign or a cult. For the foreseeable future, the new government is likely to use religion rather than exterminate it." God is Red and For a Song and a Hundred Songs make it clear that Liao, for his part, believes that the Christian community is not foreign, but rather a good influence — and that he will remain committed to providing a voice for the voiceless.

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