The Chinese underground railroad
The Chinese underground railroad
Mason Beasler
Mason Beasler
AFA Journal staff writer

July 2021 – “Don’t get caught,” she whispered in his ear.

As she did every evening, Bob Fu’s mother quietly handed him a small bundle of food wrapped in cloth. Although they were poor, the food wasn’t for Fu or any of his family. It was for the elderly man down the street in their small Chinese village, the one whom the government had labeled an “enemy of state.”

Although just a boy, Fu would nightly slip into the street under the cover of darkness and deliver food to the needy man, risking detection and punishment at the hands of the village police.

“Though we scarcely had enough for ourselves,” Fu wrote in his autobiography, God’s Double Agent, “we always managed to have enough to share just a little with a courtyard full of beggars.”

This sacrificial generosity would become standard practice of Fu’s life. Born in 1968 communist China, Fu and his family didn’t have much. He accepted Christ in 1989 while in college and went on to lead a network of underground house churches.

After marrying his college sweetheart, Heidi, they ministered to the underground church and served a brief prison sentence. After narrowly escaping China to the United States in 1997, Fu founded ChinaAid, a nonprofit organization aimed at exposing Christian persecution in China and assisting believers as they escape the country.

Secret missions
Ironically, ChinaAid was sparked to life by a death sentence in 2002.

“In a secret trail,” said Fu, “five pastors – founding and senior pastor Gong Shengliang, Xu Fuming, Hu Yong, Gong Bangkun, and Li Ying – were sentenced to death [by the Chinese government] for ‘using an evil cult to undermine enforcement of the law.’”

Upon learning of the verdict, Fu and others decided to raise money to provide a legal defense of these five Chinese pastors. They decided that a Christian organization should gather the funds, so the donations could be tax deductible.

“However, one Christian organization after another turned us down,” remembered Fu. “No one was willing to accept the funds because they feared retaliation by the Chinese government.”

Fu realized he had only one option: start a Christian nonprofit himself.

Through ChinaAid, Fu gathered donations for the defense of the five pastors, but also took to the media and advocated on the world stage for these fellow believers.

“Then, on October 10, 2002, a miracle happened,” Fu recalled. “[T]he Supreme Court in the province of Hubei overturned the death sentences.”

Although a victory, this decision did not end the struggle for freedom regarding those Chinese Christians. Li Ying, one of the five pastors, was not released from prison until 2011. 

Ying wrote a letter to Fu, praising ChinaAid and the help it provided those under government persecution.

“[M]y brothers and sisters had endless things to say about you,” Ying wrote to Fu. Ying told Fu that both she and her family felt deeply connected to and supported by Fu during that harsh time of imprisonment.

Another individual, Sarah Liu, was exonerated by the 2002 ruling but was promptly sent to a reeducation camp, “a fate worse than prison,” according to Fu.

There she experienced gruesome torture. The guards took her clothes and electrocuted the inside of her mouth and all over her body with electric batons. They also deprived her of access to restrooms or menstruation necessities.

“After Sarah was released from labor camp,” Fu said, “we rescued her through an underground railroad system stretching from China through Southeast Asia.”

Covered with wet leaves in the back of a truck, Sarah was driven across the border into Burma and given a fake identity by local Christians to avoid detection. She then swam across a river into Thailand. Sarah eventually ascertained refugee status and was flown to the United States in 2005.

Several of the refugees ChinaAid has assisted in their escape from China settled in Midland, Texas, where ChinaAid is headquartered.

“ChinaAid grew into a much more formidable effort for religious freedom,” Fu recalled. “I was hired as a part-time pastor at Mid-Cities Community Church, where I brought Chinese dissidents to tell their stories of persecution and torture to the local Midland congregations.”

Personal risks
As ChinaAid’s reach and influence grew, so too did the personal risk for Fu and his family. 

“They’d paid a price for my advocacy,” Fu stated. “For my children’s entire lives, I’d been fighting for human rights, traveling to rescue the persecuted, and speaking out on behalf of the

In 2009, Fu was again called upon to help those in danger. A man named Guo Feixiong had been arrested by Chinese authorities and falsely charged for “running an illegal business.” Feixiong had publicized his co-worker’s arrest, who had provided legal defense for house churches in Beijing.

Feixiong’s family had escaped China to Thailand but was trapped there.

“I was taking a huge risk helping Guo Feixiong’s family,” Fu said, “and I wanted to make sure I could get back to my own.”

Fu left the comfort of his family, and boarded a flight to Bangkok, Thailand. Once there, Fu came face to face with undercover Chinese police inside a hotel where Feixiong’s family was hiding.

“Had they known who I was,” Fu remembered, “I certainly [would have been] in the back of their van on my way back to prison.”

Fu then used his children’s passports to smuggle Feixiong’s children out of Thailand, under the guise that they were Fu’s own children. Eventually, Feixiong’s family made it safely to the United States.

“Guo was amazed when he heard the story of how we protected his family,” Fu recalled. “He wrote me a letter [saying], ‘I believe the sacred cause of Christianity will play a crucial part in the spiritual life of a free Chinese society to come.’”

In his acceptance of the 2019 Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy, Fu stated, “We have successfully rescued, over the years, [approximately] 200 ... persecuted religious believers, human rights lawyers, and their family members.” 

Similar to his secret mission to deliver food while just a child, Fu continues feeding his Chinese brothers and sisters throughout his life. However, the sustenance that he provides now has nothing to do with bread or water, but the Living Word of Jesus Christ, which will continue to encourage the lives of persecuted believers around the world for many years to come.   

Editor’s Note: The direct quotations from Bob Fu are excerpted from God’s Double Agent or

Read more of Bob Fu’s story
In 2013, Bob Fu published his autobiography, God’s Double Agent. In it, he shares extensive details of his childhood, education, and ministry in China, followed by gripping stories of his work with the underground church and its struggles under communist control.

His story is both inspiring and shocking, as he explains the hardships and subterfuge often associated with spreading the gospel in China. Fu’s testimony will educate readers on the persecution of Chinese Christians while simultaneously invigorating believers to support their persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide. The book is available at online bookstores.

Learn more about ChinaAid at, or 432.689.6985.