Many cultures believe that our names affect our character. That seemed true in Wang Ming-Dao's case. He was born in 1900, during the Boxer uprising in China. This uprising was a revolt against foreign influences that were destroying ancient Chinese culture. The Wangs were in deadly danger, because they had associated with Christian missionaries. Terrified, Wang's father killed himself shortly before his son was born. Mrs. Wang named her new boy "Iron" which, because of his strong personality, soon became Tie-zi, "Iron son."
Mrs. Wang hated to cook and was quarrelsome, so Wang grew up with many fights and little food. After a wicked childhood, he became a Christian at the age of fourteen. Deep spiritual struggles followed until he understood that Christ demanded complete obedience. Then he gave up his dream to become a politician. He changed his name to Ming-Dao which means "understanding the word." He even gave up a secure position at a Christian school when he insisted on being baptized again as an adult believer. He and five friends broke ice at a creek in January and plunged themselves in the frigid water in obedience to their consciences.
After years in which God trained him, Wang was asked to preach. His messages stressed holy living. He also wrote a newsletter called Spiritual Food Quarterly. So many people came to hear him that he needed a bigger place to speak. Chinese Christians raised funds. The tabernacle that they built in 1937 was simple, without even a cross. No one was baptized without first showing real fruits of salvation. "Better a few good things than many bad ones," said the Christians.
Ming-Dao lived up to his own high standards. Even his worst enemies could find no fault in him except in his utter lack of compromise. As an example of this, during the Japanese occupation, he and his fellow workers refused to join a church cooperative. The Japanese threatened Ming-Dao so many times that he ordered himself a coffin, thinking that he would be executed.
After World War II, the Communists gained power. They arrested Christian leaders who refused to go along with them. Many Christian leaders buckled and criticized Ming-Dao, making ugly charges against him. He replied, "The one who faithfully preaches the Word of God cannot but expect to meet opposition in the form of malicious slander and abuse from some leaders in the church and from 'Christians' who are spiritually dead."
In 1954 the Communists brought accusations against him. Ming-Dao sat calmly, eyes fixed on the ceiling, refusing to answer a word. Many in the court wept. The Communists could not get a verdict against him.
He went home, knowing he would be arrested. While he waited, he wrote articles showing that the "Imperialist poison" of missionaries was for the most part the truth of the Bible. "...we are ready to pay any price to preserve the Word of God...Don't give way, don't compromise!"
He preached his last sermon at the tabernacle on this day, August 7, 1954, taking as his scripture, "The Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners." Afterward, he handed out copies of his spiritual manifesto. Around midnight, the police came. Tied with ropes, Ming-Dao, his wife and eighteen young Christians were taken to prison.
Ming-Dao was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for what was called "resistance to the government." Under intense brainwashing, he cracked and signed a confession. He was released; but convinced that he had betrayed Christ, he repeated over and over, "I am Peter. I am Judas." When his mind returned, he and his wife agreed that he must tell the authorities that his statement had been made under duress and did not represent his true feelings. The pastor was immediately returned to prison for twenty years and his brave wife was sentenced, too.
Mrs. Wang was released in 1973 and Ming-Dao in 1980. By then he was old, toothless and deaf.
- Anonymous. "Book Review of Wang Mingdao's A Call to the Church." http://www.goldenmorning.com/call.htm
- Hutten, Kurt. Iron Curtain Christians; the church in Communist countries today. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1967. [This books transcribes his name as Wang Ming-toa].
- Lyall, Leslie. Three of China's Mighty Men. Hodder and Stoughton; Overseas Missionary Fellowship, 1973.
- "Wang Mingdao." http://www.yutopian.com/religion/christian/Wangmd.html
- Various internet articles.