Daily Devotions: The Tank Man of Tiananmen Square

Psalm 147:6 The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

It was the most courageous act that I have ever seen in my life. It took place twenty years ago today in the Chinese capital of Beijing. A young student was standing in the middle of Tiananmen Square in front of a gigantic military tank. It was the modern equivalent of David and Goliath and the whole world waited to see what would happen. Would the Chinese authorities listen to the protests of the students? Would the liberties and freedoms that the young people protested for, be made available to them?

Sadly, the students were massacred and the world did nothing. As usual, the United Nations made a formal complaint and there was some talk of sanctions. But it came to nothing and China, as it has done for a long time, got away with human rights violations. Even today, on this twentieth anniversary of that remarkable historical event in the annals of human dignity and freedom, the corrupt Chinese authorities are clamping down by removing dissidents away from the Square and ignoring the rights of the anguished families who lost loved ones. They are also limiting internet access, so that their citizens cannot read any material about worldwide commemorations of this day.

So much for the Chinese Government’s promises of allowing their people civil liberties to formally protest against the corruption of their leaders. So much for the commitment that was made during last summer’s Olympic Games which hypocritically portrayed China as a modern freedom loving nation. People are still being oppressed, imprisoned, violated, and executed in China and what does the world do? It turns a blind eye for fear of annoying this despicable and dishonorable dragon.

Today I will be praying for the humble people of China. I will ask God to sustain them and to cast their wicked government to the ground. I will pray for Christian pastors in Chinese prisons and for their families to be protected. I will honor the memory of the Tank Man of Tiananmen Square, who faced up to his oppressors and showed the world that human beings have an unalienable right to be free.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You stood up to the corrupt authorities in Your own time and confronted both the political and religious hypocrites who were oppressing Your people. It cost You everything.

Remind us that we as Christians are called not only to follow You but to confront evil and injustice in the world. Give us the courage to speak out and against those governments of China, North Korea, and Myanmar who control their citizens through acts of terror, fear, and oppression. In Your Holy and Powerful Name, we pray. Amen.

If you want to see what actually happened on that historic day, visit the following Youtube video.


John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to pastor@erinpresbyterian.org. He’d love to hear your thoughts on this very important anniversary.

About Stushie

I'm originally from Scotland and have been a Presbyterian pastor for over thirty years. I live in Knoxville, TN. I enjoy art as a means of therapy, but also as a creative way to strengthen my spiritual connection to God.
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1 Response to Daily Devotions: The Tank Man of Tiananmen Square

  1. Mike Licht says:

    Tank Man lives. Updates of this iconic image are all over the Web today. Here, for example:


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