May 20th, 2012
07:13 AM ET

Texas pastor behind blind Chinese activist freedom

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - It has been a busy week for Pastor "Bob" Xiqiu Fu, a pastor from Midland, Texas, who has spent considerable time on the international stage working for the release of Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese activist who arrived in the United States on Saturday after weeks of diplomatic back and forth between two global super powers.

Weeks ago, when Chen escaped from house arrest by jumping over a high wall and hiding out in a pig sty, Fu was the first to know.

Chinese activists arrives in U.S.

When Congress called two hearings in 10 days to address Chen's situation, Fu was front and center.

Both times, Chen called Fu's cell phone and he translated for the Congressional hearings, and the English speaking world, the concerns of the blind activist for his extended family.

"It's really an answer to prayer," Fu told CNN of Chen's arrival to the United States.

Fu said he talked with Chen six times before the latter boarded a flight from Beijing to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

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"He sounded very upbeat but concerned about his other extended family members he is leaving behind who are facing some real serious retribution from the local authorities," Fu said.

Fu is the president of ChinaAid, a Christian human rights organization that has been campaigning for Chen's freedom.

On Tuesday, Fu was in Washington, D.C. He began his day at an event with former President George W. Bush, who name-dropped Fu from the podium at an event billed as a Celebration of Human Freedom.

Fu sat in the front row between Bush and his wife Laura. His job was to introduce the former First Lady.

Mrs. Bush spoke glowingly of how Fu had helped secure a notebook with the book of Revelation hand copied by Chinese prisoners for the Freedom Collection at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Fu took the chance behind the podium to share his personal story, telling how he was a student leader in 1989 at Tiananmen Square, then became a pastor of a house church in China.

After he and his wife were arrested for "illegal evangelism," they fled to Hong Kong in 1996.

From there, they immigrated to the United States and ended up in "dusty" Midland, Texas, where in 2002 they founded ChinaAid.

The group focuses on "exposing the abuses, encouraging the abused, and spiritually and legally equipping the leaders to defend their faith and freedom," according to a statement on its website.

In Chen's case, that has meant being fully engaged with campaigning for his freedom.

After the event with Bush, Fu headed to the Rayburn House Office Building to appear in front of a subcommittee hearing on human rights to discuss the Chen case.

Before it began, Chinese journalists and members of the international media peppered Fu with questions about Chen's condition and whether or not he would be calling into the hearing.

Fu smiled and answered their questions, alternating between Chinese and English, and said he had lost contact with Chen since the previous night.

Once the hearing got underway, Fu slipped out into the hallway with a staff member from Rep. Chris Smith's office. A swam of reporters and photographers promptly followed him into the hallway.

Fu and the staff member slipped into a back room. A few moments later, Fu's assistant slipped out and motioned to the reporters to go back into the hearing room, indicating Fu had connected with Chen again.

For the second time in 10 days, Fu took to the dais with Smith, holding up his cell phone and translating questions to Chen and relaying his answers.

"They're doing fine, especially my two children," Chen said on the phone through Fu. "They kept telling my wife and I that this is such a wonderful place, we can play outside. And he said you can tell from my wife and I how terrible they had been back to our home town. They were only allowed to have one hour outing every day," the activist described of his family's time in a Beijing hospital.

He also explained that Chinese authorities were harassing his extended family in Shandong Province in eastern China.

"My elder brother was taken away by these thugs without any reasoning and then they came back and started beating up my nephew, and they used stakes and violently beat him up," Chen told the House Foreign Affairs Committee from his hospital room.

As he spoke, the room leaned in, intently listening to the international drama unfolding in the committee hearing room.

When the hearing ended, Fu came back out to answer more questions from reporters.

When asked what it was like to be in the middle of a diplomatic struggle between two countries he said, "(Chen) as a blind man was willing to risk his own life and his family paid such a heavy price, what about ours who are living in the free world? We have the freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression. I think we should not (remain) silent in facing this evil."

As Chen was heading to the United States to begin a new chapter in his life, Fu said he was deeply grateful for the international community's efforts to secure his freedom - efforts that tested U.S. relations with the Communist giant.

"We are happy for Chen and his family. This is a great day for freedom fighters," Fu said in a statement to the media.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • China • Christianity

soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. Peteyroo

    How did this become a religious topic? It was a Chinese dissident escaping to the US.

    May 20, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  2. Alien Orifice

    Gay marriage is cool and I could give a fuk about some chinese dude. There are a billion of them. So if they crawl over a fence they can be an American? BS

    May 20, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  3. Tim W.

    Please tell me that no American tax payers money was spent on this !

    May 20, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  4. n8263

    Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.
    ― Marcus Aurelius

    May 20, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  5. Alien Orifice

    The Flip Flop's feeliing good today!

    May 20, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  6. pastor

    I think everyone who hates this man should go live in China for a few years.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  7. Brian Monosso

    Now that I have to support this Azz. Can I go to Cheenka and have them support me?

    May 20, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  8. realist

    so who is going to support this guy now?

    May 20, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  9. robertd188

    I think if you trust our scam govt you are a fool. Chen is just not very smart.

    May 20, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  10. janus

    i bet he is a spy!
    he will also most likely form a new triad gang here!
    no more non whites in the usa!!!

    May 20, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  11. chineselady

    I live in china and nobody heard about this Chen guy until he went to the US embassy.

    May 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • mike

      well if you live in china you are not posting it from there. Having been in china I was not able to pull up CNN it was blocked!

      May 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • blessedgeek

      Mike, there are ways you could hack around it.

      May 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • jcm52


      I've been to China too. Sometimes CNN would work. Sometimes not.

      For what it's worth – watching official news was like watching Fox. they tell you half the truth. then tell you what to conclude just in case you weren't smart enough to make your own conclusions from some biased "facts"

      May 20, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    May 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • janus

      yes it does!
      prayer proves that people are really stupid!!!!!
      pray to an imaginary man who runs the ultimate pyramid scheme

      May 20, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • nope


      May 20, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Let me say again that you sound like a broken record.

      May 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Jesus

      *Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!*!~

      May 21, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  13. angel

    am gald that he was able to leave china, but does this guys speak a word of english

    May 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Dolores

      Most likely, he does speak English. Many Chinese his age speak several languages. I work with a Chinese woman who speaks 5 or 6 languages and she says that is not unusual for educated Chinese citizens.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • jorline

      LOL...half of Texas doesn't speak any English!

      May 21, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  14. FAH Q

    NAGGAS!!! 😀

    May 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  15. True Story

    Jesus freak charities like "ChinaAid" only help the people so they can suck in more innocent victims into the whirlpool of stupidity that is Xtianity.
    "here's a sandwich, my starving infidel brother! oh by the way, have you accepted the mighty baby jesus as your personal savior? no? well, I'm going to tell you all about him! hurry up and eat your sandwich so i can baptize you, my little heathen buddy!"

    May 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • ptmmac, athens, ga

      Hatred is poison no matter who sells it or why it is sold. Ad hoc is not the type of argument that is practiced by logical thinkers. Christians and atheists are all people. They all make mistakes and they all fail. Of course, the fact that many of the worlds most murderous men such as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were atheists does not mean that all atheists are bad.

      Good luck with your anger problem. Maybe a look around in the mirror will give you more knowledge of where that anger comes from.

      May 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  16. BG

    Per experiences two decades ago, the underground churches in China are not necessarily got harassed by the Chinese government as long as you don't say things against its policy, not get the foreign influences in your underground, then you're as peaceful as anywhere else in the free world. The bottom line is: Does religion have to mess up with politics in your believes?

    May 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  17. mike

    I agree this all started when camp was saying how glad he was that someone saved Chen then momoya started to make it all about religion.

    So yes! Hurrah for Chen enjoy your peace and safety

    May 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  18. where di you go momya?

    "You christians can always come up with a way to abandon your own argument (once it's been destroyed) and instead ad hominem or point to insults or the color of the person's hair, or the way they dress, or who they s c r e w.. Any excuse to disregard the argument will do," – momoya

    May 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • GAW

      And what does this have to do with the article? If you're going to say something try to keep it directly relevant to the article above.

      May 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  19. christiem8

    So happy for Chen and THANKFUL for China Aid and Bob Fu.

    May 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  20. That says a lot!!!

    Christians always in the forefront securing freedom!!!
    Chen-Great job and wishing y'all well in your conquest for freedom.

    Spread the GOSPEL and dispel the darkness

    May 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Christians are the best!!!

      The most giving, caring and loving people on planet earth!
      🙂 🙂

      May 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • True Story

      Tell that to Anne Frank.........

      May 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Jesus is in the backyard playing with the unicorns.

      May 20, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.