Monday, June 4, 2007

June 4

Tiananmen Square, Beijing
May/June, 1989

June 4 is a date that snags my attention with each passing year. I remember where I was on June 4, 1989. I was sitting in front of a television crying my heart out. The students in Tiananmen Square were being massacred.

They were young and zealous for freedom. They wanted to be able to actually live with the person they married, instead of being sent to separate cities to work. They wanted to learn English so they could be citizens of the world. They were smart. They were China's finest hope for the future. And they were being shot by their own soldiers.

This would have been heartbreaking on any level, but it was intensified for me because just two weeks before that date I had returned from a three-week trip to mainland China, Hong Kong and Japan. I traveled with a group in China that was allowed to look for sites where Christian missionaries had worked before the cultural revolution. When our group arrived in Beijing our itinerary was changed because of the Tiananmen Square protests. The streets were jammed and we could not get to the ballet and the opera as planned. We spent more time at the Great Wall.

On our third day in Beijing we could see Tiananmen Square from the fifth floor of the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. We spontaneously talked our interpreters into taking us into Tiananmen Square. That would have been on or about May 15, 1989. CNN had been barred from the Square. There were soldiers in green uniforms guarding the boulevard that led to the People's Congress Hall. Their formation stretched clear across the boulevard about twenty rows deep. We did not see any guns that day. We were not allowed to take our cameras for fear of setting off a disturbance.

One of our interpreters was a college professor in Beijing. He took off his blue windbreaker and handed me a sleeve. He took the other sleeve and the body of the jacket flowed between us in the breeze. I dropped the sleeve and said, "Nick, this is dangerous. It looks as if we are marching in protest." He said, "On the outside I'm walking, but on the inside I'm marching."

I still pray for the Christians in China. From what I know, there is a strong underground church. There is also a visible church. We visited one in Shanghai and the singing was amazing. I complimented the music leader about this and he said something like "In China we know how to sing together. Those of you in developing countries are still working on it."

If Christians were under persecution in this country, would we sing better together?

In peace,
The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

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