In the United States our church is also facing many challenges, though perhaps not as severe as the physical danger you are frequently enduring. Our challenges often revolve around questions of compromise with the current culture to remain relevant, and how to hold to the truth of God’s Word as the only hope for salvation. When we are facing these challenges, we at times turn to the example of your churches.
Christians everywhere need the Christians in China and vice versa. We need one another, not only to show us our blind spots, but to show us God.
Chinese brothers [have] helped me understand that suffering is on-the-job description of anyone who follows behind a crucified Savior. As I press on, my fraternity of Chinese pastors encourages me to believe that suffering is never the end of our journey with Jesus: the joy of the resurrection is always waiting for us on the other side.
I grew to believe that a Christian was supposed to “have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” Unfortunately, I also came to believe that joy in my heart meant having a permanent smile on my face so that everyone could perceive how good God is to me (as if he needs me on his PR team). I’ve been learning, in adulthood, that I can be honest with God.
My brothers and sisters in China remind me of the beauty of the gospel in ways that I simply cannot see in my Western context…. My kingdom is not on this earth, but in heaven! I do not have to buy into the ideas of American capitalism or productivity when I am part of Christ’s kingdom. Instead, I can find rest in knowing that I am loved by the God of this universe.
We will sorely miss his vision, voice, love, and laugh—and that’s putting it far too mildly. When Sarah Edwards heard about the passing of her husband Jonathan, she wrote to her daughter and said she “adored God’s goodness that we had him so long,” and added, “O what a legacy your father leaves.” That’s how I feel about Jay Kyle today.
For me, it is deeply inspiring that a Chinese house church pastor would encourage his flock to embrace the whole world. Pastor Wang ended his letter, “A brother who wants to see the vastness of the world with you.” This is a sign that Christians in China are increasingly engaging Christians worldwide.
What can we offer each other? One of the single greatest challenges for global Christians is navigating fragmentation and diversity. On top of this is the challenge of interacting with people in other religions. Chinese Christians live in one of the most religiously diverse countries on earth. They can speak to the global Church about their own experience, sharing good practices and lessons in living in religiously diverse settings.
Before going to China, we were given a smooth, flat rock. We were told that, if you dropped the rock into a completely still body of water, the ripples would spread across the water from the point of impact. Our life is that rock; the ripple is the impact our words and actions have on those around us.
I still have that rock. It sits today on my desk at work, even after having worked with China for the past 15 years. That small rock is a reminder that my words and actions matter, and that it is not up to me to change the hearts and minds of others. Only God can do that. I get the privilege of seeking to be salt and light, and of loving, serving, and caring for those around me.
Our organization focuses on creating relational space for women in ministry, encouraging them to engage a robust gospel that frees them to embrace and to live their truest identity…Knowing so little about Chinese culture, let alone the intricacies of the many ethnicities and micro-cultures represented, I couldn’t fathom how effective our training would be. I would be asking women to donate their trust, to share stories of wounding, to begin tracing the thread of redemption through their own journeys, to listen to one another without trying to fix them, and most importantly, to consider how the truths of the gospel affect their daily living. Oh yeah, and I didn’t speak Mandarin!
This day of humbling will only become a day of hope if Christ’s people unite with a common voice to intercede for the church and the city.