Chuck Colson

On the evening of August 30, 1966, Nien Cheng sat alone in her Shanghai home, reading. Toward midnight, she heard a truck stop in front of her house. Moments later a gang of Red Guards burst through her front door. The leader stepped up. “We are the Red Guards. We have come to take revolutionary action against you!” he said.

The gang proceeded to ransack Cheng’s home. Cheng—a wealthy woman with ties to England—was thrown in prison; her daughter was also taken from her. She was accused by the Communist government of spying for the British. The charge was false—but powerful people were about to make her a sacrificial lamb, somebody who would discredit Chairman Mao’s opponents.

At a kangaroo court, the prosecutor demanded that Cheng confess. She was outraged. “I have never done anything against the Chinese people and governments,” she declared.

Cheng was taken back to prison. It was the beginning of seven years of torture, illness, and endless efforts to make her confess. But Cheng resolved never to make a false confession. Although raised Buddhist, she had become a Christian as a teenager. During her years behind bars, she later wrote, “I was not afraid. I believed in a just and merciful God, and I thought he would lead me out of the abyss.”

As I note in my new book, The Good Life, Cheng’s captors were astounded at her ability to resist. Here she was, the poster child of the decadent capitalists; they were certain that someone who enjoyed her privileges would crumble once the material props of her old life were removed.

But the measure of Cheng’s life was not found in what she owned. During her suffering, one thing kept her sane: her belief in the truth. Through committing herself to the truth, she never lost her humanity—and she remained unaffected by the appalling changes in her circumstances.

Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson was the Chief Counsel for Richard Nixon and served time in prison for Watergate-related charges. In 1976, Colson founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, which, in collaboration with churches of all confessions and denominations, has become the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, crime victims, and their families.
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