Editor’s note: After a difficult year of persecution against many house church congregations in 2020, believers in Shanxi Province were dismayed to realize that 2021 brought an intensification of their troubles. In 2021, however, it was not only church bodies who dealt with harsh restrictions, but many individual Christians were targeted.
In light of this, the author believes that Christians in his province are being called to take up their cross and suffer for the sake of the knowledge of God and the renewal of their homeland. The troubles began around the time this house church pastor’s church decided to commemorate missionaries who were martyred in the Boxer Rebellion. Although he thought that time was in the past, he believes that perhaps the time has again come for Chinese Christians to publicly suffer for their faith.
Preacher Huang wrote and shared the following reflection in a private group with other house church Christians. The first half of his reflection can be found here.
“Feelings of Powerlessness and Discouragement”
At 7 a.m. on May 17, Brother Zhao Weikai, who was still sleeping, was taken away. His home was raided and he was placed in administrative detention. The reason he was seized was that he was homeschooling his children. Inexplicably, the authorities said this was in violation of Public Security Administrative Punishment Law. On June 1, Brother Zhao was released from detention; however, he was not given any of the paperwork he should have been provided with at the time. He began to seek legal redress for his treatment, but his case was rejected for lack of evidence. On July 7, authorities called Brother Zhao back in to meet him at the Wenshui Public Security Bureau, charging him with possession of terrorist materials on his home computer. When Brother Zhao’s attorneys arrived to represent him, they were made to wait outside in the heat, and, at the instruction of their department, refused to meet with his attorneys.
All this was enough to engender feelings of powerlessness and discouragement. Who would have thought there was more to come?
Would You Pray With Us Today?
On July 13, Brother Zhang Ligong was placed in administrative detainment after his Fenyang home was raided. On July 28, everyone (including state security guards) expected his release. Two brothers, Wang Runyun and Zhang Yaowen, drove to the detention center and waited to meet him at the gate. Yet the officials in that center invited this brothers inside the center, then locked them in and charged them with “illegally crossing the border” and formally placed the pair of them in criminal detention as well.
At the time, Brother Wang Shiqiang was at home with his wife, who had just given birth three months earlier. Officials deceived him by asking him to come sign a document, then locked him up as well. Another older brother, Song Shoushan, was a senior pastor who served the Lord for many years and retired only two years before. One Sunday, he came to serve as a guest preacher in Wenshui and baptize new members of the church there. During his sermon, police called and asked him to come meet them at the Xiying police station, where they detained him. Who knew it would be such a long trip!
In Fenyang, five Christian men were also recently detained. We learned from their families that authorities had asked them many times to join the Three-Self Church [bringing their house church under the authority of the Communist Party]. But these Christian brothers winsomely refused the invitation, and remained a part of the house church. The authorities were so angry that out of thin air they created charges against these brothers: that they had illegally sneaked across the border. However, the truth is that these men obtained passports through the normal procedures, and traveled through the regular customs queues and security checks, entry and exit processes which were authenticated over a year ago. [The men traveled to Malaysia in January of 2020 to attend a Christian conference in Kuala Lumpur.] Their travel was reasonable and legal.
God Is Calling Chinese Christians to Take Up Their Cross
But these lawless people in possession of power have freedom to put their own personal interpretation on the law and convict the innocent. Of course, they do not realize that the Christians they condemn have already been saved from condemnation and justified before the judgment and mercy seats of God himself. These believers partake in the resurrection of Christ (who was himself condemned on the cross), who is seated in righteousness at the right hand of God the Father. Since that time, the name of Jesus Christ has become the only salvation on earth!
For the sake of justice, China’s leaders repeatedly say they want to “keep power in a cage.” But they themselves have been fattened by this power, and are actively caging others. These leaders actively go beyond the law. Their actions may be a deliberate exhibition of power; perhaps this unlawful persecution is characteristic of China and of Chinese people. As Chinese Christians, God has called us to take up the cross and suffer the injustice of these fabricated charges in order to renew China in Christ. We are called to suffer in this way in order to renew this drought-stricken land of Shanxi Province, the region where we grow and live. We suffer in this way in order to renew the knowledge of God in the hearts of those in power, including those who make these arrests. We suffer in this way in order to renew their knowledge of God’s kingdom, of eternal life in Jesus Christ, and of the people in this kingdom who belong to God.
Implicated in the Love and Call Which Moved the Missionaries
Remembering the missionaries of 120 years ago seems to have brought us a series of troubles. Could it be that remembering these missionaries has “incriminated” us? Perhaps this “incrimination” is the evidence of the union of love on the cross. Perhaps we are “incriminated” with being united with the body of Christ. Perhaps this “incrimination” caused the missionaries to live and gain their reward in Christ. If our troubles are linked with the commemoration of these missionaries, then being “incriminated” by them is actually the way of the cross that the Lord Jesus Christ has reserved for us. If all this is so, we ask God to give us the strength to once again reaffirm, respond to, and follow his call.
On August 7 of this year, nine church staff from Golden Lamp House Church in Linfen were taken away. All of us are all part of a play, and God is the director. We do not know how to act in this play, but we pray the Lord will teach us to be submissive.
I used to think that the blood of the martyrs, shed 120 years ago, was enough to define the land of Shanxi. I never thought that we, the unworthy offspring of these martyrs, would also be invited onstage. Lord, please grant us your extraordinary help!
Preacher Huang is a pseudonym for a pastor serving a Chinese house church in northern China.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for the Lord to give his people in Shanxi “the strength to once again reaffirm, respond to, and follow his call.”