Posted: Monday, November 7, 2011 10:54 pm | Updated: 10:58 pm, Mon Nov 7, 2011.
In presenting President George W. Bush with a handwritten copy of the book of Revelation, Midlander Bob Fu said he hopes to have brought encouragement and awareness to the Chinese who are persecuted daily for their faith. (Fu and Bush.JPG Bob Fu of China Aid Assoc. gives Pres. and Mrs. Bush hand copied bible pages by Chinese prisoners)
Fu and his wife, Heidi, were among a group honored last week by former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush during an event for the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas. Fu presented the Bushes with a copy of the book of Revelation that was handwritten by prisoners in a Chinese labor camp and later delivered as a “thank you” to the Fus’ organization, China Aid Association.
“We’re very, very thankful,” Bob Fu said, of Bush and the institute. “I think it will certainly make a difference in the long run.”
The institute has the aim of offering practical solutions to some of the world’s more “pressing problems,” according to its website. As part of its “Human Freedom” initiative, the institute will present the stories of men and women who’ve worked on behalf of human rights in their countries despite being persecuted for their efforts.
Fu is one of those people.
He was selected by Bush and his staff to record his story on video so it can be used as an educational tool by the institute. The Dalai Lama and a former Czechoslovakian president are examples of others being featured.
After Fu’s story of conversion to Christianity, imprisonment and eventual escape was recorded, he was asked if he might have a copy of sermon notes written by a Chinese house church pastor. Bush thought the artifact would be helpful in painting a picture of religious persecution in China, since as the house churches have become prevalent among Christians who are not permitted by the government to freely worship, Fu said.
Unlike American pastors, Fu said Chinese house church leaders don’t typically write out sermons. Because many gather in secrecy, when they’re able to speak they, “just stand up and preach the Holy Spirit for five hours,” Fu said.
However, Fu told Bush’s staff, he had something better than sermon notes.
Fu has a handwritten Bible that was copied about 10 years ago by prisoners in a labor camp. The 20 men who wrote out the Scripture were arrested after their 5 a.m. worship meeting was raided by police. They were sentenced to the labor camps where Bibles are not permitted.
However, another house church pastor who’d been arrested had managed to smuggle a Bible in with him, Fu said. So each night, the men would copy down the books of the Bible and read the verses to one another as well as others in the camp.
“That sustained their faith really,” Fu said. “They were able to share the Gospel with other prisoners.”
The night before the men were to be released from prison, the hand-copied Bible was smuggled out of the prison and later passed on to a visitor who would bring the pages to ChinaAid Association. Fu said the house church leaders told him they wanted to provide something to show their gratitude for the work his organization does.
ChinaAid Association -- which was started by the Fus after their escape from China -- works to educate others about the persecution still taking place, to support those who are suffering and to train legal officials in China to work within the country’s system.
Pulling other hand-copied books of the Bible out of his desk Monday, Fu said the Scriptures that were given to him reminded him of his own time in prison.
When he and Heidi were arrested for their involvement with a house church, Fu said there was no access to God’s word.
He’d memorized some verses and also had been trained by Campus Crusade on how to share the Gospel so Fu said he relied on that knowledge to get through and to encourage those around him.
“By the end of my two-month imprisonment I became the spiritual counselor for almost everyone there,” Fu said, describing drug dealers and others who told him of all of their problems.
In being able to share those stories through the Bush Institute, Fu said he’s continually hopeful for change in China.
When Bush was in office, Fu said he was the most active of any sitting president in supporting the persecuted. For example, Bush met with house church members in 2006 and then sat down with Fu before attending the Olympics in 2008.
Fu said the institute, is meant to be an extension of that support.
“It’s a huge encouragement to those who are persecuted that they’re not alone,” Fu said.
Kathleen Thurber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org