Even before her martyrdom, the life of Sister Tang was one of pain and difficulty. Her mother was a notoriously wicked woman, her husband was an abusive drunkard, her daughter-in-law was somewhat mentally retarded and her son worked in a temple and was one of the first men in Tongzhou to volunteer to join the Boxers. The only source of joy in her life was Christianity. She found peace in reading the scriptures and singing hymns to the lover of her soul. Blind in one eye and nearsighted in the other, she was often seen holding her beloved Bible as close as possible in order to make out the words.
Tang’s husband once stormed into a Bible study in a drunken rage and beat her severely as he dragged her home. Her small collection of Christian books had to be replaced several times after he burned them. However, she refused to hate him, and often prayed for his salvation during church meetings.
After the Boxer massacre began in Tongzhou, Tang’s son brought her a pot of opium, encouraging her to commit suicide by swallowing it rather than be cut to pieces by swords. She steadfastly rejected this suggestion, telling him it was a sin for Christians to take their own life and she would rather endure the Boxers’ wrath. The next day they came to her house and took Sister Tang away. As she was dragged through the streets, she called out in a loud voice:
“This is my time of suffering, but it will be brief; then I shall have an eternity of joy. But for you who are killing me, there will be everlasting sorrow.” Perhaps it was because of these words that they hacked her poor body into little fragments. Mrs Tang was beyond caring for that; her ‘eternity of joy’ had begun.
China’s Book of Martyrs. Carlisle: Piquant Editions, 2007. Used by permission.