Faithfulness, Not Fruitfulness: Gospel Strategies for the Post-Pandemic Era

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the September 2020 issue of the Church China magazine, just a few months after COVID-19 began to wreak havoc across Wuhan and then the world. As the global church has wrestled with how it ought to respond to the pandemic, the Chinese church has often seen it as an opportunity to share their faith with a scared and hurting world. This excerpt explains how one church has encouraged every member of its body to be active in sharing the gospel, both publicly and in their personal lives. Here, Brother Luo reminds us that, because God does is the one who saves, we can joyfully share with others without worrying about the results of our evangelism. He also offers some practical advice on best practices for doing so.

Parts one and two of this article were published last month. This excerpt has been condensed and edited for brevity and clarity.


Seek Faithfulness, Not Fruitfulness

Many churches say they quit preaching on the streets because it did not work. But I say it is wrong to judge a ministry by its outcome. When Jesus sent out the 72, they returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” Jesus, though, told them not to rejoice in the demons’ submission to them, but that their “names are written in heaven.” Evangelists must not change their attitude and commitment to sharing because of the outcome of the effort. Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” We do not know if our efforts will ultimately have an effect.

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“God does not look at how great your gifts are, but your faithfulness. We value those who put in two small copper coins, and we see God’s blessing and leadership in this.

When our church began to encourage everyone to participate in evangelism, we told brothers and sisters not to worry if it seems no one received the gospel. Their names are written in heaven and they are preaching for the Lord. Some believers feel they are not gifted in evangelism. We affirm them; handing out even one tract is priceless. Others are proud because they have brought many to church. To them, we say that no one has the right to be proud. Paul said, “I planted, Apolloswatered, but God gave the growth.” Jesus said the poor widow, who gave two small copper coins to the offering box, gave more than all others. God does not look at how great your gifts are, but your faithfulness. We value those who put in two small copper coins, and we see God’s blessing and leadership in this.

Seize the Moment

Some people are afraid they will lose face when they preach the gospel to strangers. To deal with this, we remember how Jesus was humiliated in order to save sinners. We only need fear being looked down on or insulted. If you are not ashamed of the gospel, you will be able to persevere in preaching the gospel. The lives of those who preach and practice the gospel will grow. How joyful and happy we would be if even children and the elderly were able to go out and distribute gospel tracts.


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Some brothers and sisters say they have no time. But you can always put tracts in your bag and hand them out as God leads, through prayer, on your way to and from work. You do not know what God will do with that tract, but if you give just one word of the gospel—“Jesus loves you”—something amazing may happen in that person’s life, and the Holy Spirit may sow the seed of the gospel in their heart. 

Wise as Serpents, Innocent as Doves

God is sovereign in those whom he elects. We preach the gospel by grace, but the state of our hearts is the most important thing. God values our willing hearts, not our ability. 

If you are speaking to a person who reacts with revulsion when you tell them that Jesus loves them, that you are a Christian, and you would like to share a Bible or a tract with them. If they are willing, though, continue the conversation. Speaking to a group of people is like giving a small sermon. You could say, “Hello aunties and uncles! [This is a term of endearment and respect that can be used when speaking to strangers in Chinese.] I am a Christian and want to tell you about the gospel. Many people in my family believe in Jesus, and I have a legitimate occupation. I am here to tell you about this because I want you to receive God’s blessings. May I share with you?”

If there is no time for such chatter, then you can merely hand them a tract, tell them that God loves them, and ask them to read it later. Some may value the tract; others will just throw it away. Our church’s point of view is that, if even one out of a thousand holds onto and believes through the tract, then everything was worth it. If you are dealing with someone who is interested and willing to hear more, you need to be very strongly equipped with the truth. If you feel unprepared, you can get that person’s contact information and a pastor or church staff can reach out later. 

Evangelists need to be loving persons who can make a good impression on those to whom the gospel is addressed. Speak with confidence, but never mislead if you do not know the answer. Questions asked by seekers are often difficult, so do not speak presumptuously, without God’s guidance.

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“The state of our hearts is the most important thing. God values our willing hearts, not our ability. 

If you encounter a challenge, you must distinguish between malicious and genuine attacks. Don’t throw pearls to swine for the former; for the latter, respond with gentleness and overcome evil with good. Even if you are attacked maliciously, remain loving and gentle. Do not cause another to stumble through your wrong attitude—perhaps the attacker will soon or some day in the future turn to the Lord. If you respond to harshness with a smile, this may linger in their mind as a trigger, causing them to come to faith in the gospel.

When evangelizing as a team, there are several things to remember. First, pray with one heart before going out. Second, alternate between praise and preaching. Don’t be concerned about the time something takes, but about the Holy Spirit’s move. Third, understand the religious regulations, city laws, public security regulations, health laws and noise laws of the location. Protect yourself with these laws. Fourth, if we encounter persecution or disruption and someone on the team is taken in for questioning, others should not follow. Instead, watch from a distance and see where they are being taken. Return home, pray, and wait for the Lord’s leading. Finally, if you are caught up in government persecution, remember the basic principle of watching your words so as to avoid involving others and the church as a whole.

New Believers Can Evangelize

Although new believers may not be able to present the gospel clearly, they can still be encouraged to share. Very early, teach them to treasure the core salvation message in their hearts. They can memorize this, to help them become more familiar with it. This is simple but accurate: “Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, died and was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day. Believe in him for forgiveness of sins, the salvation of your soul, and eternal life.” Even if you say only this one thing while handing out tracts, you are still preaching the central gospel message, both to yourself and to others. Those who are able may expand this; those who are not can stick with this, or ask others to add to it for them.


FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for Chinese Christians to boldly and joyfully share their faith with their family members, neighbors, friends, and strangers.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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