That's what Wei was. And in a land racked with famine, that was the last thing anyone wanted.
Spiritual famine also gripped China. The Communist government demanded loyalty and had ways of dealing with people who held other views. But to Chinese Christians, Jesus Christ was worth any sacrifice -- position, family, friends, even life.
Few believers lived in Wei's rural village. His family was poor, and his prospects bleak. It would have been better, most thought, if he had never been born. And so he was left to die.
But God had a different plan. Though the journey would be long and the comforts few, Wei would one day answer to a greater call.
Spared from death as a baby, Wei's life was destined for a special purpose -- the dangerous work of spreading the Gospel in China.
opening paragraphs of Chapter 1
The scrawny branches of the Chinese willow were barely thick enough to cast a shadow on the dry, dusty ground as the warm sun sank toward the western horizon. For a willow, this was a poor specimen. The branches showed signs of mutilation where limbs had been ripped off, and the once-smooth bark was scarred and scratched. Even though it was spring, only a few limp, narrow leaves sprouted from the tortured limbs.
The tree grew by itself, only a few hundred yards from a cluster of mud-brick houses built close together and surrounded by seven-foot-high brick walls. The clay roof tiles covered single-story dwellings that were one room in depth. Each house had its own walled courtyard. Some of the larger houses reached all the way around their central courtyards. There were roughly a hundred families living in this village, which stood against the gently rolling landscape of central China.
No one knew how old the village was. As the brick houses crumbled with age, other homes replaced them. Though the political scene of the country had changed rapidly in the last century, the village had stayed much the same. It was a typical rural scene -- a tight cluster of houses separated by high walls housing generations of village folk.
An unusual silence hung over the village. The stillness was broken only by an occasional word or sentence coming from one house or another, and sometimes the noise of a metal cooking pot as it was moved. Thin wisps of smoke rose from several walled yards, and straining nostrils tried to inhale any smell that might indicate what some neighbor might be cooking. Fretful cries from small children seeped into the narrow alleys between the houses, but few paid any attention to the pitiful wails. As one cry fell silent, there was always another voice to pick up the mournful dirge.
A simply dressed man wearing a navy blue smock and loose trousers crept out of the alley, stepping into the last rays of the sun. In his arms he carried a small child.
He paused, squinted against the golden glow of the sun's rays, then turned and walked toward the willow tree. The little boy, not quite a year old, lay still in his arms, completely naked.
Unceremoniously, the man bent over and placed the child on the ground. Then, without a backward glance, he turned and hastened back to the village, disappearing back into the alley.
189 pages -- paperback
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TGS International (Christian Aid Ministries)