Tract Bombers

    Call her an unlikely commando. By day, Wendy Lawson is a middle-aged paramedic in Pittsburgh. But looks can be deceiving. Lawson is trained in the use of secret codes and disguises, and she knows how to avoid being followed. Her clothes are lined with secret compartments, and she volunteers for dangerous assignments behind enemy lines. No, she doesn't work for the CIA or British Secret Service. Wendy Lawson is a member of the Christian Secret Service's "tract-bomber squad" -- a unit that exists to counter the lack of religious freedom around the world. Her last trip was in 1998. Wendy and sixty other Christians flew to Beijing, then scattered throughout the countryside. They waited for dark, and then they began to distribute tracts and Bibles in each town and village they came to. As Lawson told TIME magazine, when the locals woke up the next morning "there was Jesus everywhere." Well, as you might expect, this kind of activity is risky. Part of Lawson's group was caught and deported -- their material having first been burned. But this deters neither the Christian Secret Service nor other groups like it. According to TIME, the number of Western Christians working clandestinely has increased over the past two years. These believers are willing to risk arrest and imprisonment to present the gospel to the Chinese, and to assist Chinese Christians. That's because they know two things about Christianity in China that it would behoove all American Christians to understand. First, the Chinese are open to the Christian message. They've discovered that materialism -- whether Marxism or capitalism -- cannot satisfy. The result is a revival that has seen the number of Chinese identifying themselves as Christians mushroom from 2 million just thirty years ago to over 60 million today. And that brings us to the second thing people like Wendy Lawson know. Those 60 million Christians pose a threat to the totalitarian regime in Beijing. That's 60 million people whose ultimate allegiance is not to the state -- 60 million people who can, with a little freedom and a little help, persuade another 60 million to join them -- and so on. So to minimize this threat, while maintaining a façade of religious freedom, the government would like to make the church a wholly owned subsidiary of the state. But many Chinese Christians want nothing to do with a state-sanctioned church, so they create what are known as "house churches." It is these churches that groups like the Christian Secret Service come to help. To be a Christian in China is to know what persecution really means. Beatings, imprisonment, and death are common: That's how they treat people who take religion seriously. The irony is that, while people like Lawson are risking their lives to help Chinese Christians, our own government in recent years has ignored them. In granting China Permanent Normal Trade Relations last summer, Congress totally ignored China's human rights abuses, and now China has little motive to treat Christians better. But while we're working to change government indifference, people like Wendy Lawson need to stay on the job. Because, as she knows, the Great Commission doesn't depend on government approval, and it doesn't stop at our borders. For further reference: Beech, Hannah. "When the Smugglers are Working for Jesus." TIME, 11 September 2000.  


Chuck Colson



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