Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of an interview with several Chinese pastors on the uptick in persecution over the last several years. This interview was first published on the Grace to City site in December 2021.
In their chat, Chinese pastors talk about how they view persecution as God’s calling to the church in this age. They also talk about how Chinese believers must be wise to steward their persecution so more people may come to know Christ through it. The pastors encourage believers to cling to Christ when they experience persecution, so they may come to know him more deeply through their suffering.
This interview has been edited and condensed from the original Chinese for both clarity and length.
Interviewer: From the perspective of the revival of God’s kingdom and the evangelical movement, how do you view the persecution churches in Mainland China are facing today? How do you pray about this?
Those Who Persecute Us May Hear the Gospel
Preacher Yang: When we look from an eternal perspective, we can see God’s will and the way he is molding the church in China through this. In the face of white terror, Christians need to proactively choose to take up their cross. Naturally, this is a difficult choice, so God uses visible, red persecution to show us how necessary it is that Christians must suffer. [Yang seems to be using “white terror” and “red persecution” to contrast a covert threat of “white” danger with direct “red” suffering dealt out by Communism.]
Would You Pray With Us Today?
We need to live out the gospel according to the scriptures, and respond to God’s calling for us in this age. I pray that the Chinese church will not stop preaching the gospel, cultivating our relationship with God, and extending mercy and grace toward those whom we encounter during our persecution.
The testimonies of Early Rain and other local churches have created opportunities for those who have to persecute Christians as a part of their jobs to hear the gospel. This same motivation drove Paul to insist on going before Caesar. We may not always understand it, but perhaps, by allowing these people to hear the gospel, God is preparing us for the next season of revival.
In the past, our elders suffered and persevered. Out of that, they nourished our generation. What will we do to shepherd the next generation? I pray the Lord will enable us to take up our cross and be a wonderful testimony!
“Cherish These Times”
Pastor Peng: When I graduated from seminary 15 years ago, one of my professors said to me, “Cherish these times, because there are not many times like this in the history of the Church. Though there are many challenges, it is within God’s great mercy that we get to experience his kingdom through them.” I have always kept these words in my heart.
As soon as I returned from seminary, I had to battle Eastern Lightning [a widespread Chinese cult which preaches that Christ has returned as a Chinese woman and is known for kidnapping house church Christians]. That was a tough period.
For the past year, I have been saying that these hardships we are experiencing are God’s grace to the Chinese church. But I stopped saying that in recent months, because I have felt a sense of fear and responsibility. I have noticed that some who are very good with words are not actually willing to bear the cost. Those who are holding fast may be people with whom we do not see eye to eye, or those we look down on theologically. This is deeply humbling.
What is to be done? We should pray with this hope: that the gospel we confess and the theology we believe will become part of our lives. We should pray daily, with a watchful heart, boasting in our weaknesses and allowing Christ’s grace to cover us. We should pray that each day we will be united with Christ and will walk the path ahead of us by relying on his grace.
If God delights to mold the leaders of our generation – if he allows us to move from knowing to experiencing to applying the gospel – then we will become the seeds of a future revival of the church. This is my vision and my prayer.
Evidence We Are Numbered With The Saints
Pastor Fang: I am thankful that we in this age can experience persecution; it is evidence that we are numbered with the saints of all generations. A great cloud of testimony from the saints of all generations surrounds us. That cloud testifies that the cross is the heart of the gospel and the real focus of our attention. We must be constantly vigilant.
When we encounter persecution, the most important question is: does our response make plain the cross of Christ? At the same time, when we are persecuted, we need to repent and confess our sins to the Lord. We have seen the parts of our lives that do not align with truth: our lack of forgiveness, our lack of patience, our lack of humility. It is necessary that we repent, so we can see that we are no more righteous than those who persecute us.
All of us we will realize that, no matter how much we prepare, we are still unprepared when persecution happens. No matter how much we train, we will still find we are not strong enough. Yes, we must prepare and train and plan. But we need, all the more, to rely on the grace of God alone.
Pastors Yang, Peng, and Fang are part of a group of urban Chinese house church pastors who are committed to preaching the historic gospel of grace.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray that Chinese Christians who experience persecution will use their suffering to testify to the gospel of Christ.