It was late autumn 1969, as I climbed up to the very top of a mountain in the New Territory in Hong Kong. Below, the beautiful landscape was heavily surrounded with barbed wire. Signs everywhere warned that trespassers would meet serious consequences. This was the Berlin Wall of the Far East. The two worlds on each side of these wires had been fearfully separated for twenty years.
Before my eyes was an endless ocean of rice paddies. The grain was turning golden-brown, soon to be ready for harvest. On the muddy paths, two village boys were riding a water buffalo. Playing some game, their innocent laughter was a contrast to the armed guard in a hut, nervously watching through his binoculars to make sure no one crossed the border.
These moments flooded me with emotions. Just about 200 miles away lay the place of my birth. Twenty years ago I had voluntarily put myself in exile in pursuit of freedom. I left half my family behind at home. They, along with another 800 million people, had suffered in a cultural revolution, a manmade calamity, the most destructive in China’s 5,000-year history.
For the first time I understood the sentiment of the Jews, who once by the riverside of Babylon lamented with the psalmist, “we sat and wept when we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137:1).
My family was denied the privilege of leaving the country because of their Christian faith. In the meantime, thousands risked their lives against gunfire as they fled into Hong Kong.
Chinese Christians often pay a higher sacrifice to keep the faith. They are accused by the Imperialists of abandoning traditions, and most seriously, of not rendering respect to the deceased ancestors. Our family was the first to become Christians in our village, and we were publicly ridiculed by our own kinsmen. So my parents decided to move to a small town northward.
A few years later, I visited that village and sadly found that most of the villagers had died of epidemics and starvation. The place was desolate. I stood in horror and was reminded of the precious promise of God we now claimed for His providential care of our family: “But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children” (Psalm 103:17 NASB).
Check Yee, For My Kinsmen’s Sake