Prison theology

“IT'S TIME FOR PRISON THEOLOGY,” I said to my wife Heidi when the Beijing police arrived at our apartment. I’d kept meticulous notes in a notebook of new converts in my secret house church ministry. I stuck it in her hands and said, “While I’m in jail, don’t let this fall into the wrong hands.”

I said goodbye, but the police were already at my door. “Xiqiu Fu, you are under arrest for illegal religious activities,” they said as they barged in. And then: “Search everything!” My heart almost stopped. Heidi would have no place to hide the book. If the police found it, they would have a blueprint for the underground church, complete with names, phone numbers, and addresses.

Heidi’s arm hung casually beside her body. I couldn’t tell if she had the address book. We watched as officers dumped the contents of our desk drawers. They stuffed anything that looked important into a satchel—our wedding videos, photographs, bank statements, posters we’d gotten during the Tiananmen Square massacre—and I tried not to think of all of the memories they were stealing.

The address book was compact, almost small enough to be hidden by Heidi’s hand. Her eyes were hard as steel. She didn’t smile, she didn’t blink. The only motion she made was an ever-so-small rotation of her arm so I could see the edge of the book in her left hand.

I forced myself to look back down at the floor. How long would it take before they noticed she was holding something?

Within 15 minutes, every nook and cranny had been searched and every item of value had been stuffed into satchels. The apartment looked like it’d been hit by a tornado.

“We’re done here,” the head officer said. I breathed a sigh of relief and looked at Heidi, who just barely turned up one corner of her lip. I was overwhelmed with love for her.

Then, disaster. “You look like you’re hiding something,” he said to Heidi.

Give her presence of mind, I prayed.

“Empty your pockets!”

The entire world seemed to slow down as the she took her left hand and slipped it into her pocket. The officers’ eyes were fixed on Heidi’s pocket, which now contained her hand and the book. 

Then, an amazing thing happened. 

After she yanked out both her pockets, she pulled her hands away. From across the room, I could see the corner of the address book right there in her hand.

However, the officers’ eyes were fixed on her pockets, which they’d anticipated would contain forbidden objects. When the pockets hung out of her pants, lint fell out onto the ground. The officers were so surprised, they stood there transfixed, staring at the cloth lining.

From the back of the police car, as it barreled toward the jail, I thanked God that he had protected the new converts.

By Bob Fu

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #109 in 2014]

Bob Fu is president of the China Aid Association.
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