A Tale of Two Authors

Just when I had thought the heart ache of being attacked by the Chinese government was over, a year after I was forced to leave China, I encountered an attack from a Christian author who maliciously slandered me without giving me any notice or even providing an opportunity to dialogue.

Before I go any further let me begin in 2012 with a brief encounter I had with a Pulitzer Prize winning author who approached me to do an interview about my work with the seminary in Chengdu. The seminary had just begun and Wang Yi asked me if I wouldn’t mind meeting a reporter. For a missionary trying to maintain a low profile, journalists can be a bit scary but when we met he assured me my name would be kept confidential. We parted ways and I didn’t think about the meeting anymore until 2017 when someone mentioned a book came out called The Souls of China by Ian Johnson. There are interviews with four or five different faith communities that run throughout the book but six of the 20+ chapters are dedicated to Chengdu. Sure enough the author kept my name anonymous for which I was very grateful.

Two years after Ian Johnson’s book was published another book came out. I’ll refer to the author simply as ML. This time my name (both first and last) was mentioned 15 times, the references were almost entirely negative and the author is someone I only know from a distance. I was never consulted nor given any warning that I would be mentioned in this book. My efforts to maintain a low profile were completely destroyed.

I finished reading ML’s book shortly after it was published and was filled with conflicting emotions too difficult to describe here. In the end it felt not simply like character defamation but rape.

Both Ian Johnson and ML profess to be Christians but I have seen a lot more of Christ in the first author, not just because he said nice things about me in his book but because he treated me with respect. May I also show that kind of respect to others.

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