Pastor Wong’s Fingers

Do you remember the scene in the 1970 film, called Scrooge, in which Ebenezer Scrooge buys a whole sackful of toys for Bob Cratchit’s family? Scrooge had just spent the night with three ghostly visitors who taught him the true spirit of Christmas, and he couldn’t wait to start celebrating. Imagine how the newly converted Scrooge would have felt if he had discovered that the toys had been made by Christians imprisoned for their faith. Now, that would have been a real-life nightmare. Well, that did not happen to Dickens’s Scrooge, but it is happening to millions of Americans this Christmas. According to the Family Research Council, 750 million dollars’ worth of Christmas ornaments and toys were imported from China last year. That won’t surprise many Americans who have already begun their Christmas shopping. Walk into any store, and try to find a doll, a Giga Pet, or a Beanie Baby that was not made in China. But a growing body of evidence reveals that many of the Chinese-made ornaments and lights that Americans will hang on their Christmas trees were made in the Laogai, China’s slave-labor system. Many of the prisoners are Christians, imprisoned for their faith. Think of the excruciating irony of this. The angel gracing the top of your Christmas tree, or that beautifully carved Christ child and manger beneath the tree, may well have been made by a pastor whose only crime was worshipping the real Christ child who lay in the manger. If you’re tempted to grab that "Made in China" Beanie Baby, consider the words of Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council. In a recent Washington Post op-ed piece, Bauer describes a certain Pastor Wong, who runs 40 evangelical churches in Wuhan, China. Wong was released from prison a year ago—his fourth term for the crime of spreading the Gospel. "This time," Bauer writes, "[Wong’s] captors broke several of his fingers with pliers." Such abhorrent treatment of Christians is one reason we need to keep pressing for passage of the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act, a bill proposed by Congressman Frank Wolfe and Senator Arlen Specter in the last session but blocked by the Clinton administration. This bill would require modest but important sanctions against any country that uses slave labor or persecutes people for their faith. This Christmas, let’s celebrate the season the right way. When your congressman or senator visits your area, see him and tell him how strongly you feel about the persecution of Christians around the globe. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, we need to understand the true meaning of Christmas. When a friend of mine told her little boy that he would not receive one of the year’s "hot" toys—a Chinese-made Giga Pet—he burst into tears. But she used the situation as an opportunity to tell him what Christmas is really about—the Savior who tells us that when one suffers, we all suffer. When we give up much-desired Christmas presents, in a very small way, we share in the suffering of our brethren in China.


Chuck Colson


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