As the 2008 Beijing Olympics drew to a close this week, we celebrated not only the accomplishments of the athletes, but also the resilience of the world’s most populous nation.
Human rights issues and the heavy-handed government control of public life are just a few of the ongoing concerns that democratic nations have with this communist country. However, if we look back just barely three months to the massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Sichuan Province, we see a very different side to China.
The citizens of that country reacted to the disaster in a way that astounded most of the Western world. People—and not necessarily just rescue workers—hopped buses, peddled bikes, caught trains, and walked, sometimes for days, to Sichuan to help in the recovery efforts. They were not asked. They were not ordered. Most were not even paid. They simply went.
Nine-year-old Lin Hao, the school boy who accompanied Houston Rockets center and China’s flag bearer Yao Ming during the opening Olympics ceremony, had survived the earthquake and then returned to the rubble to rescue two schoolmates.1 NBC commentators Bob Costas and Matt Lauer mentioned during their coverage of the ceremony that when reporters asked Lin why he went back, his simple reply was that he was his classroom’s leader, and that he was responsible for them.2
For days after the May 12, 2008, event, photographs of tired rescue workers and cloth-draped bodies flooded the news networks and Internet. Other countries, including the Western superpowers, offered aid. But the one country that aided China the most in those initial hours of greatest need was, in fact, China.
Charles Darwin’s definition of natural selection and survival of superior over inferior species can never account for what the world saw in the days just after the Sichuan earthquake. If neo-Darwinian theories were true, no one would have had a compelling reason to come to the rescue of the people of Sichuan. Logically, in the world’s most populous nation, rampant with poverty, fewer people would mean more resources and space for everyone else.
But that is not how many of the men and women and even children of China responded. Even in this predominantly non-Christian country, where the underground church is persecuted, the people displayed the qualities of mercy and compassion that are commended in the Bible.3 For the nearly 70,000 that perished, the help came too late.4 For others, like Lin’s classmates, it made all the difference in the world.
If nothing else, what we saw the people of China do in those tense days was nothing less than an expression of the Creator’s image in them, whether they recognize it or not, providing a pale reflection of the love and mercy He demonstrated when He rescued His creation on Calvary in the time we desperately needed Him the most.5
- Abrahamson, A. Games open on a Beijing high. NBC Olympics News Center. Posted on www.nbcolympics.com on August 8, 2008, accessed August 21, 2008.
- To view NBC’s commentary at the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, visit www.nbcolympics.com/video/player.html?as
- Isaiah 58:7; Luke 10: 36-37.
- Sichuan quake death toll stands at 69,197. China Daily. Posted on www.chinadaily.com.cn on July 9, 2008, accessed August 21, 2008.
- 1 John 4:10.
* Ms. Dao is Assistant Editor.
Article posted on August 28, 2008.