Dong Dianfu

Tung Tien-fu

Martyr of the Boxer Rebellion.

Dong Dianfu (Tung Tien-fu) was a good Christian man who taught Chinese to new missionaries. After the Boxer troubles started, he sent his wife to a safe place while he himself hid in the house of a friend. Neighbours soon told the Boxers of this, and they came to kill the occupants. Dong and his friend fled for their lives but they had nowhere to go. They decided to run as far from Beijing as possible, in the hope that the Boxers would not be as strong in the countryside as in the city. They went to Tongzhou, and then south to the small town of Caiyu, but there was nowhere to hide and these areas were teeming with Boxers. Hemmed in on all sides, and with their money running out, they resolved to head back to Beijing.

Only minutes after Dong reached his father-in-law’s house, 30 or 40 Boxers seized him and bound him hand and foot. They took him to their headquarters near the south-east gate of the city, where he was offered a chance to escape death if he would renounce his faith in Jesus and become a Boxer. “Do you still believe in Jesus?” the Boxers asked Mr Dong, seeing his calmness even while hacked and stabbed with their knives. “Yes, indeed,” he replied, “until death I shall believe in Him.” The man bowed his head and prayed, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” And soon the cruel wounds of the Boxers set free his weary soul.

The record of his last words came from his chief tormentor, a Boxer named Chang Chun, who was later put to death for his part in the uprising. Dong Dianfu’s powerful and fearful testimony for Christ left an indelible impression on the hearts and minds of his persecutors.


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.