About a year ago, Bob Fu played a critical role in a sensational human rights case. He testified before a congressional committee about the fate of the blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng and arranged for Chen to testify by phone from his hospital room in Beijing.
The event is one of the climactic stories in God’s Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian’s Fight for Freedom by Fu with Nancy French, but it is just one chapter in an extraordinary life.
Although television networks and newspapers around the world showed images of Fu holding up his iPhone so the committee could hear, the media could not capture the extent of the behind-the-scenes maneuvers Fu had orchestrated to bring Chen’s plight to light.
In fact, Chen is only one of scores of political dissidents and persecuted Christian leaders Fu has helped guide to freedom, leading major newspapers like The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal to profile him. The Journal described Fu as “the pastor of China’s Underground Railroad.”
Fu, who began calling himself “God’s Double Agent” because he taught English during the day in a Communist school and led home Bible studies at night in his native China, is the founder and president of ChinaAid in Midland, Texas. He has been compared to Martin Luther King Jr. for his work for the oppressed in China. Now God’s Double Agent tells Fu’s story, and the book reads like a work of fiction from the top of the best-seller lists.
Fu grew up in the remote province of Shandong. As a university student, he participated in the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989. But he left Beijing when his girlfriend, Heidi, became ill, avoiding the massacre when Chinese troops opened fire on the demonstrators, inflicting thousands of casualties.
Back at university in Shandong, Fu found himself ostracized by students and faculty, and Chinese police forced him to write confessions and treated him like a criminal.
Then one day, someone gave him a book about a Chinese intellectual who converted to Christianity. The story had a profound impact on Fu, and he realized that if China was going to change, people’s hearts would have to change—including his own.
The government imprisoned Fu and Heidi, by then his wife, for two months in 1996 for their unsanctioned Christian activities with the underground church. In China, only government-approved churches can legally hold religious services.
Shortly after their release, Heidi became pregnant, and they feared they would be forced to have an abortion because they hadn’t sought permission to have a child under China’s repressive population-control policies. Much like the blind dissident Chen many years later, they decided to escape.
One night, Heidi left their apartment building in disguise, and Fu jumped out of a second-floor bathroom window. They fled to Thailand, Hong Kong and eventually the U.S. Fu first went to seminary in Philadelphia, starting ChinaAid in his attic, and then settled in Midland because of the supporters he met from there.
In the intervening years, Fu has helped many people escape from China and has learned an important lesson. “If you’ve rescued one soul,” he writes, “it means more than the whole world.”