When dozens of Red Guards smashed the door and burst into his family's three-story home at 9 p.m. on Aug. 24, 1966, Dr. Timothy Yeh said he couldn't imagine any good coming from the Cultural Revolution. Armed youth representing Mao Tse-Tung "rushed into our house like the flood of lava from a volcano, screaming, 'Down with the bourgeois class.'"
High school students herded 31-year-old Yeh, his parents and other family members into one room and started ransacking their home. For two weeks, the search continued.
"Every cabinet, drawer, bricks, tiles, they check it," said Yeh.
They even dug up plants in the yard.
According to Yeh, constitutional protections were wiped out when Tse-Tung established a total dictatorship. There was "no freedom of religion, no Western contact, no individualism, no capitalism, and no intellectual thinking."
So the family watched helplessly as the Red Guard plundered their possessions.
"Nothing remained concealed and nothing of value was left," Yeh said.
Even worse, the poorly educated teens were determined to find political proof that could put Yeh in jail. A highly respected doctor of both natural and modern medicine, Yeh studied English, German, Japanese and Chinese. With relatives in America, Yeh said, he'd also applied twice to leave China. Now these actions made him suspect.
Though the Red Guard didn't find any incriminating evidence, the Yehs remained under constant surveillance. At the time, Yeh said that like so many Americans, he thought he knew how to be a Christian. Everything had been easy, then persecution came and everything changed.
The spiritual realm
Before the Red Guard invasion, Yeh said, he prayed and read the Bible like many raised as Christians. He'd accepted Christ at age 15, but "thought of God as so far away, high up in the heaven. Faith was just an ideauntil Jesus revealed Himself in a much more personal way.
"God really loved me," Yeh said. "He talked to me. I thought God won't be so close to you to talk to you like that. So when I heard His talking, I was surprised. Really? My faith was true?"
Gradually trust in his personal Savior and Lord grew. The family had remained in Shanghai, but when Yeh's mother was severely beaten, he became determined to find her a safe place. His friend, Pearl, in Guan Zhou took them in. According to Yeh, Pearl's goodness and courage convinced him to marry her, but five days after their small ceremony, amid false accusations, he was arrested. Yeh didn't see his wife again for almost three years.
Thrown into a small, hot concrete room with about 20 men, Yeh said his space on the floor was next to a sink used for human waste. At first, Yeh said, he was angry at God.
"It looked like God is not righteous, God is not just," Yeh said. "So I started to complain for two weeks."
Then he realized complaining didn't work. Finally Yeh surrendered to his fate and asked God's forgiveness.
"My only hope is through you," he told Jesus. "I started to pray. Then God gave me visions and words."
Yeh said that, prior to his arrest, he'd had a vision of Tse-Tung's regime coming to an end, but still managed to worry himself into a frenzy about his family and future. It was then that "a strong voice came from above to my spirit, saying "See no one but Jesus only," Yeh said.
The word gave Yeh great strength and peace of mind.
From then on, Yeh said, he knew Almighty God was with him, teaching and protecting him.
"That was a spiritual sweetness as sweet as honey," he said.
Shutting out depressing and fearful thoughts, Yeh focused on Jesus and began recalling the Bible stories and hymns that helped him worship God, even while being tortured and starved. Still, during the 33 months he was imprisoned, Yeh regretted not having memorized more Scripture and hymns.
A higher calling
While in prison, Yeh said he had another encounter with God where he was asked, like Peter, "do you love me?" The young doctor cried wanting to know why Jesus would ask him that. In God's response, "tend my sheep," Yeh recognized the calling to become a pastor.
Yeh said it took many miracles to get him released from prison, reunited with Pearlwho also holds a doctorate in Chinese medicineand relocated to America.
In 1982, the Yehs opened the Yeh Center of Natural Medicine in Upland, Calif.
"Now, the Yehs view themselves as medical missionaries," said Jonathan Blanke, marketing director for the center. Using a combination of Western and "traditional" (natural) medicine, Yeh has not only had success treating autoimmune, immune and metabolic diseases, but he also frequently shares the Gospel with his patients and has led many to Christ. In addition, Yeh has been a pastor for the Chinese congregation at the First Church of the Nazarene for more than a decade.
Over the years, Yeh said, he has spoken to thousands of American Christians.
"I want to wake up Christians here," he said. "Don't think Christianity is ongoing; sometime maybe Christianity will be stopped. A post-Christian nation is coming to America, so maybe we'll be looked at as strangers."
Yeh expressed concern that perhaps Christians will be considered enemies and something similar to what happened in China could happen here. The question is: when the test comes, can believers stand firm?
If they can, the doctor said he believes that America could see a revival of the Church similar to that in China. According to Yeh, the Christians who suffered and died during the Cultural Revolution were seeds in the ground that spread the Gospel. He never imagined such good coming from such chaos.
The book, "Never Alone," written by the Yehs and their daughter, Janet, is available at www.yehcenter.com