Audio Recording of Interview
Bob discusses his experiences as a Chinese Christian under the Communist regime. After fleeing to the U.S. following severe religious persecution, Bob founded the NGO China Aid, which aims to help other victims of persecution in China. He discusses his views on religion, persecution, and organizing.
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Narrator: Bob Fu
Date: August 11, 2020
Location: Midland, Texas (Bob Fu); Hong Kong (interviewer)
Summary:Bob discusses his experiences as a Chinese Christian under the Communist regime. After fleeing to the U.S. following severe religious persecution, Bob founded the NGO China Aid, which aims to help other victims of persecution in China. He discusses his views on religion, persecution, and organizing.
Topics: Religion, employment, family, childhood, historical commentary, places of worship, persecution, spirituality, education
Section 1: (00:00-13:57)
Overview of life: Bob was born in China, became an underground church leader, and was imprisoned for his leadership. He fled from China in 1997 and founded the NGO China Aid in Philadelphia.
Religion, Employment: China Aid deals with cases of religious persecution in China. In his day-to-day work (currently), Bob makes decisions about cases, organizes grassroots support, and coordinates with other NGOs and governmental organizations.
Religion: Bob was raised an atheist but converted to Christianity while at university. He was a leader in the student movement in China and was heavily investigated by the government. During this period, he read a biography of Pastor Hsi, a Chinese Christian pastor, and identified closely with his story and ideas.
Bob believes that hearts cannot be changed, except in surrendering our lives to Christ and Christianity.
He did not know how to become a Christian after he decided to convert, so he went to an English teacher at his University, who was nervous that Bob might be KGB.
Section 2: (13:57-19:29)
Religion, Employment: Bob’s NGO work can feel lonely and threatening because of the regime he is helping people escape. He probably would not be doing it if he were not Christian—he may have pursued a more “realistic” path.
Faith plays an instrumental role in his everyday life and serves as his guiding principle.
Section 3: (19:29-30:59)
Family: Bob’s mother and two siblings, before he was born, were in extreme poverty and survived by begging. His mother then met her husband and married, and Bob and his other sister were born.
Childhood: Bob saw money as his family’s main problem and wanted to become a millionaire. He also wanted his mother to see Chairman Mao’s portrait in Tiananmen square, but she died suddenly, and he was not able to.
Historical Commentary: The 1989 massacre showed him that the government was not accountable to its citizens. Bob believes that humans are self-centered and, that without checks on power, any controlling party will become a dictatorship.
Religion: Religious freedom is the most important freedom, because without it, other rights like “freedom of assembly” will not be meaningful or genuine. Bob started China Aid, for this reason, while he was a PhD student at Westminster Theological Seminary.
Section 4: (30:59-38:42)
Religion, NGO: China Aid is different from a purely secular humanitarian organization because it connects those who have fled China with churches, and it takes a more holistic approach. Meanwhile, other missionary organizations are often afraid to get involved because of the danger associated with rescuing people from the regime.
Section 5: (38:42-49:22)
Places of Worship, Persecution: Most North American Chinese churches are unwilling to touch the issue of persecution. In 2000, for the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted, not a single Chinese American church signed up to pray for the persecuted in China.
This is largely because of intimidation by the Chinese government.
Bob describes a time when he was invited to be the main speaker at an event at a Chinese American church, and how the church cancelled shortly before because of threats against them.
Chinese American churches are also unwilling to be involved in politics.
Places of Worship, Persecution: Chinese refugees—victims of political persecution—are treated as a dangerous group to have in American Chinese churches. Often their stories are ignored. There is a little more sympathy for victims of specifically religious persecution, but the churches are often still not welcoming.
Section 6: (49:22-59)
Spirituality: Bob’s faith has expanded since resettling in the U.S. He is now more aware of the global Christian community, and is interested in working with other organizations ad groups working to end world religious persecution. He is also now more concerned with persecution against other faiths, rather than focusing on Christians.
Education: Bob recently finished his PhD.