Like most Americans, the last year and a half has left my soul disheartened. As a mother, I worry for the state of the world my small children will inherit; as a citizen, I am concerned with the dissension of society; as a person from the rural Deep South who now lives outside of Los Angeles, I despair at the mutual polarization and lack of recognition of our common humanity.
Yet God has not forgotten his people or plan. I am convinced of this because I see it in Scripture, but also because I work with the Chinese house church. Every day, I am reminded that God will triumph, though men and angels stand against them. This month, members and leaders of urban Chinese churches have shared with us about how they live in and love their cities—even when some of these very believers have been thrown in jail for doing so.
I can think of no better reminder of what loving God and one’s neighbor looks like than their example.
We invite all sojourners throughout the world who belong to the universal church to pray fervently for Pastor Wang Yi and Elder Qin Defu, who are being imprisoned for the sake of Christ and of the gospel, as well as for their families. Pray for all of us. We will also pray for you. We also invite churches who are currently being persecuted to fix their eyes together with us upon the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, we pray for these who, by loyalty to the Savior and with courage for Christ, are willing to minister in a land where the gospel is being resisted and yet flourishes at exactly the same time. Would you use their gifts, their talents, their heart, and even their weaknesses in such a way that Christ shines through? May the Savior be known through these, give them a heart for Jesus that makes his name known.
Father, we believe you can do this: help our unbelief. Would you give our brothers and sisters strength, courage, and compassion for the lost? We pray that, as they preach boldly, in their words and in their deeds, that as the church grows and matures, it would be to the honor of your name, to the glory of Christ, and to the extension of your kingdom.
God, I pray that you would push back the darkness, that you would put to naught the counsel of the wicked, that you would frustrate the plans of the peoples, that you would undo the design of the Party, and grant there to be a season of liberty and release. Cause your church to flourish, cause the Word of God to run and triumph, we pray.
I hope that when someone mentions my ministry in the future, that it will not be described as an abstraction of words and sermons, but rather as a humble ministry that has concretely influenced and built you – this gospel community – up.
We pray, not just for the saving work of the gospel, but for the transforming work of the gospel. We pray that people’s sense of identity and meaning and purpose, their sense of well being, would be rooted in the work and the grace and the presence and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Interview with Two Church Lay Leaders from Shenyang: The Challenges of Following Christ for China’s Busy Academics
“Our church is relatively small, but more than half of our church members are graduates from our research institute, now working and under a lot of pressure. Those we’d like to reach out to are very similar—they are also very busy and under a lot of pressure. Some seek out the church voluntarily because they feel empty inside. They feel really lost because they are under a lot of stress. Some are actually on the verge of being depressed or having anxiety disorders. When they see Christians, they see that we are joyful and that we care for them, and so they keep coming [to church].”
There is true revival going on in China. I hope our blog brings and shares that with a Western society that, in my opinion, is losing that vitality and is dying spiritually. I’m hopeful God would deign to use the teachings of these Chinese pastors to help revive the American church, and to bring spiritual life and vitality to those who hear from Chinese Christians.
In the past, my perspective was that the church should be separate from the culture, because it is separated as holy; I neglected common grace and I refused to learn anything from non-believers. But I have come to realize the radiating sparks that God gives to both believers and unbelievers alike in the city.