Wang Zhishen

Accomplished young student, martyred within months of becoming a Christian.

Wang Zhishen (Wang Chih-Shen) was a senior student at Beijing’s Methodist University when the new century arrived. One of the best students in his class, and a man known for his courtesy, he always seemed to have a clear sense of direction. He had become a committed Christian a few months earlier, when the Holy Spirit convicted him at a revival meeting. When some of his friends found out that he was a Christian they ridiculed him, but he was unperturbed. God had touched his life so deeply he could not be swayed by their opposition.

The term ended just a few days before the outbreak of Boxer violence and Wang returned the 200 miles (320 kilometres) to his home. His friends warned him to go into hiding, but he would not desert his family and was captured by the Boxers. He was

offered the choice of recantation or death. To make it easier for him to deny his Master it was proposed by the village elders that some of his friends be allowed to worship the idols in his stead, in which case they could secure his release. ‘No,’ said he; ‘I will neither burn incense to idols myself nor allow anyone to do it for me; not to mention the fact that it would be denying my Lord, I should never dare to look my teachers in the face again.’

His persecutors stood there astonished, not knowing what to do next. He began to exhort them to repent of their sins and accept Christ before a fate worse than death overtook them. The Boxers ordered him to be quiet, but he refused. To silence him, ‘they finally cut off his lips, then his tongue, and then cut him up limb from limb until he expired. Perhaps no case of greater bravery and greater suffering is known.’

Wang Zhishen had only followed Christ a short time, yet his courageous witness influenced many lives.


China’s Book of Martyrs. Carlisle: Piquant Editions, 2007. Used by permission.

About the Author

Paul Hattaway

Paul Hattaway is the international director of Asia Harvest, an organization committed to serving the church throughout Asia. He is an expert on the Chinese church and author of the The Heavenly Man and Back to Jerusalem.