2021: Year-End Wrap-Up

Although on a macro scale this has been yet another year of pandemic and pain, as I look back on the last twelve months, God’s grace has been apparent in my own life in many ways. Similarly, although this has been a difficult year for the church in China, God’s loving hand is still apparent. Even as there is much to mourn regarding the situation of my Chinese brothers and sisters, there also remains much about which to give thanks and praise to God.

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“Although this has been a difficult year for the church in China, God’s loving hand is still apparent. Even as there is much to mourn regarding the situation of my Chinese brothers and sisters, there also remains much about which to give thanks and praise to God.

My life has been shaped by what the Lord is doing China. Below, I share just a few ways the faith of Chinese believers has challenged and changed me as we prayed for the gospel to go deeper and wider in 2021.

Drive by Good News, Not Fear

The past twelve months have objectively brought much difficulty and many challenges to house church Christians in China. Still, even in times that are less than ideal for the spread of the gospel, God’s hand is apparent in China. In October, a house church pastor in Shanghai talked about how he faces difficult, daily decisions by focusing on the gospel, not on fear. Another Chinese leader said that persecution is the historic norm in China, and that God has used and is using these circumstances to build his kingdom. Even when the church has no outward clout and is powerless within society, God uses this feebleness to help his people confront and repent of their desires for comfort and power. In seemingly straitened situations, Chinese churches are not only trying to survive: they are focused on the mission presented in Scripture. They are seeking to share the good news of the unshakeable love and joy of Christ with others and building a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

The Voice of the House Church Must Be Heard

This year I was also thankful to witness the house church continuing to grow into maturity of voice, of theology, and assurance that she has a message the modern world needs to hear. The house church has a specific and distinctive experience which has uniquely equipped her to proclaim the gospel in this contemporary age—not only within China, but to the rest of the watching world. Although the circumstances of Christians in different countries varies greatly, our God and our faith are the same. This fall, a Western Christian wrote of how he was personally encouraged by being reminded that we are united in Christ, and can grow from seeing believers in other nations confront their own societal idols.

Chinese Christians also have a special ability to speak into how God walks with and works in believers experiencing suffering. As a pastor’s wife reflected on her family’s most recent persecution, she reminds us all that Christians have no need for anxiety, because God is in control. She also remembered that God lovingly uses difficulty to yield the fruit of the Spirit in his children. This reflection on Psalm 46, written several years ago by a believer who was anticipating his own arrest (which came only hours after writing this), reminds us that we can rest in God, who is our refuge.


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While these lessons might sound self-righteous coming from someone else, when I read them from the lips of these believers who are walking the road of the cross, I am left marveling at God’s faithfulness in walking with his people.

Learning and Growing as a Parent 

The last way I was impacted and blessed by Chinese believers this year was quite personal. I was deeply helped and convicted in hearing from Chinese believers about parenting. 

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“The house church has a specific and distinctive experience which has uniquely equipped her to proclaim the gospel in this contemporary age—not only within China, but to the rest of the watching world.

Hong Laoshi, a Chinese-American biblical counselor, talked with me in April about why she and her husband live in China. Much of her family’s call to China has grown out of a desire to walk alongside Chinese Christians in the struggles of daily life. She shared how she views parenting as primarily a discipleship relationship. Speaking of the struggles she witnesses in many Chinese parents, she said, “Their desire to be perfect parents is defined by how much they can materially provide for their children, according to what they think their children want. On the other side, they define ‘good and perfect parents’ by how well the children do in front of others. Either way, the focus of parenting is not on children, but on themselves.” 

I was also challenged and encouraged watching Chinese believers wrestle with how to raise their children to love and follow Jesus in an environment that opposes faith. Although my children do not face the same level of opposition to faith, the Bible is clear that all believers will face hostility. We must learn to follow Christ and to love others, and teach our children to do the same.  

There are many others ways that Chinese Christians have helped me in this past year; this is only a brief sampling. As we look to 2022, I invite you to join me in being renewed and challenged by the experiences of believers in China. 


E.F. Gregory is a mom of three young children. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley on the border of East Los Angeles, where her husband is a P.C.A. church planter. 

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Praise God for how he has continued to build his kingdom in China throughout 2021, and pray for his people to be strong and courageous in the year to come.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Love Under Pressure
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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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Stories from Nanjing

About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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Stories from Changchun

About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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