Editor’s note: At the end of January 2020, believers from around the world gathered at KL2020, a gospel conference in Malaysia. Despite KL2020’s timing in the rising shadow of COVID-19, God’s presence was tangibly experienced through his protection of and encouragement to oppressed believers.
As Chinese believers continue to experience increasing levels of persecution, the conference focused on building the body of Christ on earth. In the face of suffering, a deep understanding of the Christian’s heavenly citizenship is necessary. The gospel speaks directly to oppressed and suffering believers, showing them the way to live and act in a culture that is increasingly hostile to the gospel. When believers understand their ultimate belonging is “with Christ in the heavenly places,” the way they interact with the world necessarily changes.
We are pleased to share on our blog the voice of Chinese sisters who spoke at KL2020. Here “Wendy” shares about the power of prayer in her own life and in that of her church.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
Moderator: Can you speak a little about why prayer is important in the life of the church?
Wendy: Prayer is a beautiful thing. I am always excited to talk about it. I came to Christ almost fifteen years ago now. God has used the many troubles and difficulties that I experienced to mold and grow me through prayer. Before I became a believer I worked for the government and had my own business. But when I started doing ministry after I became a Christian, it felt very different. Prayer gave me the opportunity to go on an adventurous journey with God. I am not able to predict the future, but the process of trusting God and following him through prayer is amazing every single time.
There are a few aspects of this. First, prayer is engaging in deep worship of God. Through prayer I recognize my limitations, my sinfulness, my impotence. I learn how to rely on God, and the church learns how to rely on God as a body. Prayer is first a relationship—our relationship with God. When we go to the Lord in prayer on our knees, our interaction with him, the total reliance, is a wonderful experience. We experienced a lot of disagreements during the process of establishing our church. When our church first began, we had nothing, no resources. God used that to grow our intimacy with him. We witnessed his mighty work through our prayers.
Second, prayer is an act of faith. Through prayer we come to know God’s presence and faithfulness and see that everything is within his control. We know our identity, and we experience him through prayer, our faith being built up as we see his faithfulness in keeping his promises according to what we read in the Bible and as we see his sovereign plan for his kingdom unfold. In that way, our faith grows bit by bit.
Prayer is very important to our whole church. From when we were persecuted in 2014, to our later journey in becoming more Reformed, our church was met with many challenges and difficulties. There were moments when we felt we could not go on and wanted to give up. But for nearly ten years’ time, our church has been holding prayer gatherings every week. Every time we gather to pray, it seems there is a solution to our every problem.
Regarding the importance of prayer to the church, I can only speak from my own experience. Prayer is our relationship with God, our identity as a Christian, our faith, and the means through which our understanding of God’s mission and his kingdom continues to deepen. Just as the book of Jude tells us, we should build ourselves up in holy faith, praying in the Spirit. If we have God’s Word and prayer, we do not have to be afraid, no matter what lies ahead of us.
Moderator: Do you have any stories to share?
Wendy: Before 2014 I learned about kingdom-centered prayer. But the Lord amazingly helped me put what I learned into practice when I was detained for thirty days. My prayers used to be centered around my personal needs or the ministries of the church. It was similar with the church. We would pray about different things, but no matter how much we prayed, it did not seem like it helped us grow very much spiritually. During the first three days that I spent at the detention center, I had high hopes that God would deliver me and that I would be able to leave after a few days. But when I finally received a note that said that I would at least be detained for a month, I made my peace.
During those thirty days I engaged daily in praying kingdom-centered prayers as taught in Seven Days of Praying with Jesus by John Smed. I saw how Jesus the Word became flesh and entered into our world of darkness and filth. At first, I really wanted to leave that place, because those who were kept there with me were all thieves or drug dealers or prostitutes. But praying the Lord’s Prayer really helped me recognize who I was and what God’s will for me was in placing me in that situation. I suddenly understood all this on the third day that I was there. I surrendered my heart to his lordship, and began to pray every day for the forty-plus cellmates who where there with me.
God was so amazing. We were not allowed to share the gospel, but I prayed that his will be done and that he would bring to me those that I could share the gospel with. Two of my cellmates ended up coming to our church after I was released; one was a [former] drug dealer and the other was someone who had depression and had committed some sort of business crime.
As I prayed, “Forgive my debts as I forgive my debtors,” God helped me face my own sins. In particular, he helped me face my idols of comfort and worldliness and wanting others’ approval. We had little privacy—we were often strip-searched, and we did not have much food and had to sleep on the floor. But God used all that to deal with my idolatry.
As for the police and officers who arrested me, I had a lot of anger toward them at first, but I knew I had to forgive them. Before I was released, an officer asked me, “Do you hate the government?” At that moment, I really could not feel hate in my heart. They were amazed by my answer.
While detained, I was especially worried about my church. I thought, “This is the end, our church must be all divided now.” I was the leader of the church at the time, so I thought there would be no one to lead, our church must have stopped gathering, they must have stopped studying the Bible. I prayed for the church according to the Lord’s Prayer: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” I was worried that my brothers and sisters would leave God because of what happened.
But the most amazing thing happened. I could not receive any news in the cell, so I did not know what went on outside. I only found out after I was released. During the month of my detention, the church did not stop worshipping. Several pastors from across China traveled to our city to lead our little church in worship. Moreover, brothers and sisters immediately set up three teams—a pastoral team, a legal team, and a prayer team—in order to support us. That was why I was able to spend my days in detention quite joyfully. It is also why the Lord’s Prayer closes with “Amen,” because in all things we see God’s glory being revealed. I thought my time in detention was really quite all right, and I felt very thankful for that. I also experienced the deep [fellowship we had with one another] in the Lord.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Here are a few ways to pray for China based on this sister’s testimony:
-Pray for believers who are suffering to “know God’s presence and faithfulness and see that everything is within his control.”
-Pray for Chinese Christians to deepen their understanding of God’s mission and kingdom through their prayer relationship with God.
Our blog exists, not just to share information, but to resource the global church to share the joys and burdens of the Chinese church. Our hope is that everything you read here will lead you to intentional, knowledgeable prayer for the Chinese church.