Each year, the Colson Center family gathers for the Wilberforce Weekend conference in Washington D.C. with friends new and old. The Weekend includes incredible Christian worldview teaching, networking with Christian leaders from across the country and beyond, the commissioning of a new class of Colson Fellows after they’ve studied with us for a year, and, of course, honoring together the Wilberforce Award winner.
As you may have guessed, the live gathering we had planned for next month can’t happen, at least not in person. However, all of this year’s Wilberforce Weekend content will be delivered virtually and, the best part is, it is absolutely free. Given the difficult and uncertain times, not to mention the rising unemployment rate, we’ve removed all costs associated with this event and are trusting God to use this virtual event to equip and lead His people for such a time as this.
When we developed our theme for the event months ago, none of us imagined that “Truth. Love. Together.” could possibly be even more relevant somehow. I mean the clash of worldviews in our culture is pretty steep as it is, but now, in the wake of a global pandemic, nothing is more central to the Christian mission in the world than to love our neighbors enough to share truth with them, and to make sure whatever we say and do is couched in true, authentic Christian love.
In fact, Bob Fu, this year’s Wilberforce Award winner can tell you that sharing truth in a context of crisis is difficult and can be costly. Even dangerous. Pastor Fu is founder and president of China Aid, a Christian “human rights organization committed to promoting religious freedom and the rule of law in China.” Fu and his team expose the systematic persecution, harassment, torture, and imprisonment of Chinese Christians and human rights lawyers in China, while also “financially support(ing) Chinese Christians and their families who have experienced persecution by the Chinese government,” and “provid(ing) leadership and rule of law training for Christian and church leaders in China.”
If the biblical phrase “for such a time as this” comes to your mind too, it should, though Fu never intended this would be his life. Born in Shandong Province to a disabled father and beggar mother, he enrolled in university, fully intending to join the Communist Party and become a government official.
God, however, had other plans. An American professor gave him a biography of a Chinese intellectual who converted to Christianity, Xi Shengmo. As Fu told the Wall Street Journal, “that book changed my life.”
After graduation, Fu taught English at a Communist Party School in Beijing while he and his wife, Heidi, became active in the house church movement. They even established a Bible school there that used chairs borrowed from the Communist Party’s school.
Well, the Communist Party didn’t share Fu’s sense of irony. He and his wife were jailed. About a year after their release, with Heidi pregnant with their second child, the Fu’s fled China and its “One-Child Policy.” After emigrating to Hong Kong, Fu was granted political asylum in the U.S. in 1997.
Just as the persecution of the Church has, at times throughout history, led to the unintended spreading of the Gospel, Pastor Fu’s forced emigration has increased his influence. From his base of operations in west Texas, he operates what the Wall Street Journal has called “the most influential network of human-rights activists, underground Christians and freedom fighters in China.”
What Fu and China Aid have accomplished is the stuff of movies: In 2009, they helped smuggle the wife and children of Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, called by Amnesty International “the bravest lawyer in China,” out of the country. More recently, Fu worked closely with human rights lawyer, Cheng Guangcheng, a.k.a., “the barefoot lawyer,” whose harrowing escape from China was the topic of a BreakPoint commentary a few years ago.
Fu has earned the nickname, “the Pastor of China’s underground railroad,” and I can’t think of anyone better to help the rest of us think through how truth and love can go together, and go forward in the name of Jesus, especially in times of crisis like ours.
Though our typical banquet honoring Pastor Fu with the 2020 William Wilberforce Award will have to wait until this fall, he and a host of world-class Christian worldview thinkers such as Os Guinness, Lee Strobel, Andy Crouch, Uju Ekeocha and others will be part this year’s Truth.Love.Together virtual event. And again, it’s free and on-demand starting May 15. Sign up at WilberforceWeekend.org.
Publication date: April 3, 2020
Photo courtesy: Pixabay
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.
John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.