Shaun Bao has a great sense of humour, a broad smile and you can’t help but like him when you meet him.
He was born into the royal family of China—a 300-yearold dynasty. But the Chinese Cultural Revolution in 1966 changed everything.
His family were regarded as part of the “black class”—and as second class citizens. Shaun’s parents were discriminated against for being educated. His father, a university professor, and his mother were sent away to work in the fields. For 12 months, they lived in different parts of the country from each other.
Shaun was sent to live with his grandmother.
As a young man Shaun was selected by Mao Tse-tung’s wife to become a film star. He starred in the first movie to be shown in China after the revolution. His father was unaware Shaun had been selected and saw a poster on the street with Shaun’s photo on it. He was furious and told Shaun that members of the royal family were not to become actors, that he was to become a professor like his father. Shaun asked him, “So you want me to go to the countryside and dig in the ground and become black class like you?” To this his father had no response.
Shaun starred in 13 movies in eight years. He had fame, position, money and girls. But despite all this, he says, he “always felt very thirsty and hollow.” He decided to go overseas.
At 25, “I jumped even further than down under—to New Zealand.”
At this time, it was an offence to change Chinese money overseas, so he landed in Christchurch with no money, no job and a desire to study. He was living in a student dorm; working all hours— babysitting, doing laundry, washing floors—doing anything to earn money.
When people would say they didn’t need help, he would reply, “Well, I will do the job for nothing.” Shaun found that when he did this, the person would pay him at the end of the job, and often pay more than he was normally paid for doing the job! Shaun had reached rock bottom. He was tired of eating Western food. Shaun felt he had no future. He was running out of money and afraid he would be deported. He thought of the shame he would face—going back home and being a failure. He was so low he even thought about suicide.
One day, while doing odd jobs, a German shepherd attacked him. He ran out onto the nature strip and was nursing his wounds, feeling worse than ever, when a young Asian man approached.
Shaun discovered that the man was from Singapore and spoke a little Mandarin.
The man asked him to come to “fellowship” and learn about Jesus Christ. Shaun had never heard of Jesus Christ. He asked the man if Jesus was a government official. In China citizens are told “there is no God” and Mao is worshipped as a deity. The young man offered to drive Shaun to the meeting.
Shaun didn’t understand a lot of what was said but he could smell the food cooking in the kitchen. He felt the prayer went on far too long and couldn’t wait for it to end so he could eat! Shaun says “I never had such a delicious meal in my life.” He continued going to the Christian group meetings for four months— just for the Asian food.
He also felt loved and in his loneliness he desperately needed this. They hugged him and he felt accepted. To Shaun, who felt such a failure with no future, hearing that Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life” felt like he had found something that made sense of his life.
He eventually prayed, “Jesus if you are the way, show me. I have no other way to go.” He confessed his wrongdoing.
He says, “Then the world was so beautiful. Instead of feeling like a nobody, I felt like somebody.”
A journalist heard about Shaun. He decided to interview and photograph Shaun for a story in the newspaper. As a result of this article, Shaun received a phone call from a movie producer offering a leading role in a New Zealand film about the gold rush.
Eventually Shaun came to Australia, where he finished his study and did a business degree. He had money to buy a house and car, and open his own business.
After his baptism, he started conducting mission trips, taking Bibles to China. People in China were so excited to have their own Bible. Shaun’s passion for the Chinese people grew and he sold his business and house, putting the money into his ministry. He moved back to China and started a house church. One of his early converts, Sarah, became his wife.
When his house church grew to more than 200 people, he realised they would have to expand. He now has 12 house churches and people from these house churches are going to other countries around the world as missionaries.
Shaun runs a business, where he teaches chief executive officer’s how to “do business” and a number of these people have taken an interest in Christianity.
In China, it is still illegal to buy a Bible, so Shaun has discovered a way to overcome this obstacle. Shaun has published a biography on Jesus Christ: The Life of Jesus. He says that there are biographies for sale on many other famous people. At first, publishers refused to publish the book, telling him it was too dangerous to do so. But Shaun was persistent and finally found a publisher.
His book has now been endorsed by the Chinese government and is legal to sell and distribute. Shaun says “Please pray for us… . I believe China will be the biggest Christian nation in the world; we already have 100 million Christians.”