Auntie Mabel's Story

by Alex Buchan

Her neighbors in China call her Auntie Mabel. She came from a wealthy family living in a large house in the center of Beijing. She remained single in order to care for her sick brother. In 1949, she was branded a "rich landowner," and was forced to leave her villa and live in a garden hut. Following the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution, she lost her job as a doctor, and was sent to a labor gang, where she had to shovel sand. The Red Army severely humiliated her, beating her, parading her through the streets with a sign listing all her "crimes." They put a sign outside her house, labeling her as an outcast for distributing "imperialistic literature" (the Bible).

From Outcast to Anchor

Mabel went through hell. Beaten and humiliated, she returned to her hut one day and told God "I can't go on any more." She took a large chopping knife and held it over her wrist. But before she struck, she prayed "Lord, if this is wrong, help me!" She didn't use the knife, but instead sat down and broke out in tears.

She endured the beatings and scorn for eight more years. "Somehow, God gave me the strength to go on," she says. She only understood many years later; at the end of the 1970s, the Red Army was disbanded. Mabel was not rehabilitated, and was not given her house back.

Instead, people sought her out; to her astonishment, many of them were high-ranking Communist officials. Even more astonishingly, they all asked for Bibles. "Why do you come to me? Of all of Beijing's population, why come to the house of a 70-year-old woman?" The answer was always the same: "During the Cultural Revolution, there was a sign in front of your house listing everything you did wrong. One of them was distributing Bibles. I came in the hope you might still have one."

The Reason for the Suffering

It was wonderfully poetic justice that the very sign which made her life hell was the key to missionary work. Through contact with a Western missions organization, Mabel managed to open the first Bible smuggling channel into the Chinese capital. Some of the Christians among the high-ranking Communist Party officials have Mabel to thank for their faith. Mabel recalls "Every day was a battle, and it was hard. But it was good to see the reason for the suffering. That strengthens my faith."

Open Doors via MissionNet

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