Lin Maozhi, or Martha Lin, was born to Lin Pu-Chi and Ni Guizhen on December 5, 1921. She was a part of a family that contained many influential people in the Christian Community in China. Her grandfather, Lin Dao’an, was a Christian and a medical doctor in Fuzhou; her father was the first ordained Chinese Anglican Priest. Lin Maozhi’s uncle on her mother’s side, Watchman Nee, was labeled as a counterrevolutionary. He is considered one of the most influential people in the lives of many modern-day Chinese Christians. Lin’s lineage led her to becoming a prominent follower of Watchman Nee both in China and abroad, making her an example of someone who stood firm in her faith throughout the Cultural Revolution.
Growing up, Martha was taught by her mother to play the piano, a skill that would cause a member of the family much trouble in the future. Instead of going on to be a great musician, Martha followed her father’s example, graduating from St. John’s University in 1946, where she earned a medical degree. In July 1947, at the age of twenty-six, Martha married John Sun, a business man who did not meet the academic standards that Lin Pu-Chi had set for his daughter’s future husband.
As her father was an Anglican priest and her mother a faithful member of the Little Flock, Martha was exposed to religious practices from birth. As a child, she was taken by her mother to the Little Flock meetings every week, where the only traditions they adopted were from the Bible. There Martha and her mother noticed that the services were set up like family gatherings as opposed to traditional services. Members were known to call each other brother and sister.
Lin’s childhood experiences with Christianity resulted in a lifelong source of hope for Martha. She lived through the Cultural Revolution, in which her family were labeled members of the bourgeoisie and counterrevolutionaries and targeted by supporters of the Communist regime. Because of her father’s rank, her uncle’s reputation, her husband’s job title, and her open loyalty to her faith, Martha and her husband John faced torture and a prison sentence of almost one year at the hands of the Red Guards. The attacks did not stop there. Drawing on her piano lessons as a child, Martha had instilled a love of music in her daughter Julia. It was this love that led to Julia’s determination to become a professional pianist. During the Cultural Revolution, it was that same love that caused her to receive punishment from her radical classmates, who crushed her hand with a ping-pong paddle.
Even after churches reopened throughout China, Martha felt it was too risky to immediately be public about her faith. She waited many years before deciding to move to Sydney, Australia, where she continued to be an active member of the Little Flock. Martha is an example of the strength of the Chinese Christian Community during times of extreme persecution. May many look to her life and gain the encouragement they may need to continue standing firm in their faith as she did.
Jennifer Lin, Shanghai Faithful: Betrayal and Forgiveness in a Chinese Christian Family, (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).