Editor’s note: This year, China Partnership is praying for the church in China to hold fast. In the fall of 2022, we spoke with Chinese house church leaders and asked them how the global church can pray for and support them in 2023. They specifically asked that we pray that they would hold fast to Christ and to his promises in the midst of pressure, persecution, and uncertainty.
They also asked for encouragement. In 2023, we will be periodically publishing letters of encouragement to the church in China from the global church. We hope these letters will remind Chinese Christians that they are not alone or forgotten, but that around the world, their brothers and sisters in Christ care and pray for them regularly. We invite you to join us as we labor in love and prayer for the church in China.
Is Suffering Worth It?
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.”
God’s revelation to John was recorded for a church going through trials in the first century, but also for you, my dear brothers and sisters in the house church. Just this past week I led a brief devotional with three house church co-workers on Zoom using this passage, because I was struck by how relevant it is for all of us. Among this small group of co-workers, some have experienced detention in jail, and some have experienced harassment from authorities.
As I reflect on these words in Revelation, a question comes into my head that we all have to answer: is this suffering worth it? Have you had moments when you question whether it is worth it? Suffering is messy, and most of us do not look like heroes when we experience it. Jesus knows that. He went through it himself. So, even if we do not emerge from suffering as heroes, it is more important that Jesus endured his suffering and was victorious over sin and death.
Some of my house church brothers and sisters have had moments of weakness in the midst of suffering. Under great stress and pressure, some have signed statements they do not truly believe or agree with. The Bible shows us that even the bravest can cave to the pressure. But there was great grace for Peter when he repented, and there is great grace for us as well.
Jesus Has Overcome
Wang Mingdao, the grandfather of the house church movement in China, experienced a season of weakness under pressure. [After being arrested, Wang, fearful of a long imprisonment or even death, confessed to a litany of crimes he had not committed. His confession led to his release from jail. But less than a year later, Wang was rearrested. This time, he told authorities his previous confession had been a lie. He did not recant his beliefs, and remained in prison for 22 years.] There was great grace for Wang Mingdao when he repented, and there is great grace for us as well. We serve the same Jesus that Peter and Wang Mingdao served.
Jesus promises we will have trouble in this world, but he tells us to not lose hope. Why? Because he has overcome. He has conquered sin and death, and one day, united with Christ, we will no longer need to endure grief, crying, pain, and death. Because he lives, the suffering is worth it. “Life is worth the living just because he lives.”
Urban Farmer is a pseudonym used by an American who works to support and strengthen the Chinese house church.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for Chinese Christians who are facing suffering and are questioning whether their troubles are worth the price.