“We can strip the knight of his armor, to reveal that he looks exactly like us, or we can try on the armor ourselves to experience how it feels. Fiction provides an ideal opportunity to try on the armor.” C.S. Lewis
Nineteen year old Mei-lin, the fictional hero of Daughter of China, lives in a modern-day rural village. She faces fierce persecution and demanding personal choices as her story unfolds. The author, C. Hope Flinchbaugh, based her novel on true testimonies of persecuted Christians in China and that authenticity shines out of every page.
Although it was published ten years ago (Bethany House, 2002), Daughter of China is not just a banner waved and then furled; it still speaks profoundly to us about religious persecution and the repression of the one child policy in China. Mei-lin pursues her beliefs in a government system that does not offer religious freedom. Her heroism is striking due to her youth; all her life is before her, and yet she continually risks her safety to follow her conscience.
My pet name for this type of fiction is a “hero book”. We, as Americans, will most likely never travel in the flesh to these places, nor live in the time periods of hero books set in the past. It is vitally important that we open our eyes and our hearts through stories like this so that we are stretched and move beyond our current culture and lifestyle. This type of vicarious living is definitely not escapism. This novel made me ask myself: “What would I do if it were me in that time and place?” I am convinced that we, as readers, can try on C.S. Lewis’ “armor” through any genre of fiction or non-fiction as long as we have the “knight”!
Thankfully there is a sequel, because Mei-lin was a heroine I didn’t want to be parted from. Across the China Sky (Bethany House, 2006) chronicles Mei-lin’s continued struggle in her native China. Hope Flinchbaugh’s third novel, I’ll Cross the River (Destiny Image, 2008), brings the reader into current day North Korea and the plight of those locked into the suffering created by a corrupt communist system. I have the honor of knowing Hope Flinchbaugh personally as a member of my local church. She is a hero in her own right telling t,he world of the persecution of our international brothers and sisters through her writing and publishing.