Editor’s note: This is the second post in a series by a house church pastor reflecting on the gospel and its impact on the Chinese people. The material was originally presented at the China Partnership annual conference in January 2015. Check back next week for the last post of the series.
There was a fellowship in Beijing led by a married couple. Between 2005 and 2011, the fellowship they led grew from a disorganized group of ten or so people to a disciplined and structured fellowship of about 120 people. It sprung up from two people, who were attempting to serve step by step, to thirty colleagues. It became an organized ministry, blessing and transforming the lives of many students. One after another, many brothers and sisters committed to full-time ministry. Later, when they had left to study elsewhere, these colleagues continued to serve. Currently, they still have a very active gospel ministry. The following is an episode from when they first began serving. This brother says:
When I first began serving, I was in a deeply hopeless situation. Very mysteriously, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I was led to confess many deep sins in my life. Beginning in June of 2005 and over three to four months, I was in the process of confession. At the time I was reading the Biography of Song Shang Jie, and recognized that man had to confess each sin before God. I was inspired and took some fax paper and began writing my confession.
I took each thing that I remembered was offensive to God and wrote them down one by one. Then I got on my knees and confessed them each. In the process of my confession, I experienced more deeply the heart of Jesus Christ and recognized why he was crucified on the cross for me. I also recognized what kind of man I was and how I should serve him with the rest of my life. Each day I went to pray on a small hill in my school. My prayers were mostly confessions. The more I confessed, the more relieved I felt. Bit by bit, my bitterness and burdens were shedding. The whole person was like a silkworm breaking out of its cocoon, armed with wings, very delicate, gradually being renewed, beginning to grow. Therefore I came to believe in Jesus through the course of my confessions, and believing in Jesus means beginning to work with God.
At that time I began to spread the gospel among the students around me, while also serving at the church by cleaning the bathrooms. Why did I have such a deep impression of cleaning the bathroom? Because there was grumbling in my heart. In the course of serving, I slowly began to ask myself a question: if Jesus were here, what would he say? If Jesus were here, what would he do? This was the biggest motivation behind my service.
In 2006, I was admitted into graduate school and my wife and I were assigned to an apartment building. The two of us began to lead a Bible study. The small group met in the basement. At that time, the weather was very hot and there were lots of mosquitos. We sat around the candle light in the middle of the room, mosquitos flying around us. In the very beginning four to five people got together, and as God placed into our midst his Spirit, more and more people began to show up. Back then we studied the Bible four to five times each week, almost every evening was spent either at church or with other brothers and sisters.
Now looking back at my old journals, it seems inconceivable that after getting into graduate school, I was not studying for my Masters degree but was studying theology. All of my energy was dedicated to serving God. Now when we remember those days, we feel particularly grateful. In those two to three years, I led about fifty people to Christ. I led them to pray the believer’s prayer; although many among them have lapsed, many others are still very active.
While I was leading the Bible study, I deeply recognized one point—the gospel brings changes to souls, and the Holy Spirit testifies for the gospel, confirming that the gospel is true. Why are we willing to serve? Mainly because we have seen people being transformed by the gospel, yet this transformation cannot be achieved by any man or any other power. A sinner breaks away from his sins; a habitual liar no longer lies; a man who watches pornography each day quits watching; a man suffering from depression was healed after believing in the Lord. These are the things that we witnessed in the past few years.
Wang Jianguo is the collective pseudonym for a group of Chinese house church pastors writing and thinking critically about issues related to the spread of Christianity in their nation. They are committed to preaching a grace-centered gospel, developing resources for the church, and loving China’s urban centers.