Twenty years later, the vivid memories are coming back. Thousands of students protesting in the streets—and gathering at Tiananmen Square. And then, on June 4, the Chinese government turning its guns and tanks on its own people.
This week, we have heard commentators discuss the consequences of the crackdown. One of the comments I found most intriguing came from a Chinese pastor who last night spoke at the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. His words demonstrated once again how God can bring good out of evil.
Through the June 4 tragedy, Pastor Hong Yujian said, “We see that . . . God prepared the hearts of the people for the widespread dissemination of the Gospel . . . in China.” First, he said, Tiananmen Square “destroyed the last sense of hope the Chinese people had in the idol of communism. The massacre of ordinary people by the government fully exposed the barbarity of a totalitarian government under the rule of man.”
Second, the massacre “Was a blow to the blind spot of self-conceit of intellectual elites in the Chinese tradition.”
Third, he said, “the decline of the student movements and the pro-democracy movement forced us to reflect on a deeper level: what is really the root of all the miseries in the Chinese nation?”
In the past, the Chinese believed the answer was oppression, which they attempted to resist. But under the mighty power of the crackdown by the totalitarian authorities, Yujian said people “demonstrated cowardice, numbness, [and] betrayal.”
“Many people are beginning to realize that they in themselves have nothing praiseworthy,” Pastor Yujian said. “The end of human efforts is the beginning of God. . . . The only way out is coming to the throne of grace of God and surrendering to Him.”
How has God used the Tiananmen tragedy to build his Church? Before the massacre, the house churches were mainly in the countryside, Pastor Yujian noted. But after June 4, the churches “spread to urban areas and into intellectual circles.” In these arenas, in the aftermath of the massacre, students were suffering from a sense of passiveness, depravity, and loss—but then they began to listen seriously to what house church pastors had to say.
In other countries, Chinese churches and Bible classes had previously been attended mainly by immigrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan. But after Tiananmen Square, people began to reach out and show their care and love to students from mainland China. “As a result,” Pastor Yujian said, “there was an upsurge for God among the students from mainland China.”
Out of the ashes of Tiananmen Square, and the failure of the student movement, its leaders began a search for truth—and ultimately have “found hope and reality in Jesus Christ.”
What a tremendous reminder of the teaching that what humans intend for evil, God uses for good.