ABC News Live journalist, Bob Woodruff, recently interviewed a Kazark (Uyghur) survivor from a “Reeducation Camp” in China. According to reports and eye-witnesses, these camps are similar to Concentration Camps with inhumane brutality, enslavement, and violence.
As the ABC story was unfolding, I had a sense that behind the scenes my friend, Bob Fu, was the one at work helping the Uyghur woman to go free. I quickly discovered my sense was right — Bob and his organization were indeed responsible for the release and escape of this Uyghur woman.
This is no surprise, as Bob has done this for many, including smuggling human rights lawyers and their families out of the country to safety, earning him a fitting title: “Pastor of China’s Underground Railroad,” originally given by the Wall Street Journal.
Here’s what’s remarkable about my friend Bob…
Born in Shandong Province to a disabled father and beggar mother, he planned to join the Communist Party after graduation and become a government official. That is until an American professor gave him the biography of a Chinese intellectual who converted to Christ. This story changed Bob’s life.
In the hot summer of 1995, in Beijing, I met Bob and his young wife Heidi. We had an extraordinary connection, ministered to many, and saw miracle after miracle! We encountered God together as his student leaders were filled with the Holy Spirit and we baptized many while there.
The Fu’s established a Bible school using chairs borrowed from a Communist Party school where Bob taught English. Eventually they were arrested and jailed.
What was their transgression that had the Chinese so up in arms over this special couple? Preaching the gospel.
Eventually released, Heidi became pregnant with their second child which was a violation of China’s one-child policy. Facing further persecution and arrests, they emigrated to Hong Kong.
Along with others, I attempted to help the Fus get out of Hong Kong, but our efforts kept falling short. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, President Bill Clinton directly intervened as their chances of being freed were slim.
It was just in the nick of time… the Fu family left Hong Kong only three days before Hong Kong was returned back to China from Britain. For many of us it felt miraculous, knowing China would have never released Bob and Heidi.
After the Fus left Hong Kong, they flew to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, where Kara Reed Waddell, Pastor Elliott Warren and others from our church met them at the airport and helped them settle into our city. Our King’s Park church family welcomed and hosted the Fus. They soon relocated to Philadelphia to attend Westminster Theological seminary to pursue Bob’s Masters and Doctorate. After graduation, Bob and Heidi became even more active in the underground church movement where we have worked together to spread the gospel and bring biblical trainings throughout China.
The Fus founded ChinaAid, eventually establishing headquarters in west Texas where Pastors Kevin York and Daniel Stephens from Mid Cities Church have helped Bob and his family in significant ways.
ChinaAid is a “human rights organization committed to promoting religious freedom and the rule of law in China,” exposing the systemic persecution, harassment, torture, and imprisonment of Chinese Christians and human rights lawyers in China. They also train Chinese pastors and Christians to defend their rights; and offer support to those who are being persecuted.
God has bonded us from our first meeting, in a gospel partnership. Bob’s riveting book, God’s Double Agent, shares his life story and mentions our story of ministry together as well.
May 22nd, 2021 was an apex moment as Bob received the distinguished William Wilberforce Award. This recognition award was established by the legendary Chuck Colson, to honor modern-day heroes committed to Christ and just causes, like the famous abolitionist Wilberforce himself.
The Wall Street Journal has called Bob’s work, “the most influential network of human-rights activists, underground Christians and freedom fighters in China.” I could not be more amazed by, and proud of my dear friend, also excited that he has garnered so much deserved support from around the world.
Recently, President George W. Bush included Bob in the painted portraits featured in his new book, Out of Many, One, to “recognize the powerful influence” immigrants have had on our country. This book by President Bush features the true stories of 43 immigrants, including Bob.
I could have never imagined that when I met this dedicated and poor young man from China, he would eventually become a hero to many and a voice for persecuted Christians around the world. He has appeared on every media outlet, on Capitol Hill and has served as a consultant to Presidents.
Surely, he is most recognized by the One who will reward it all.