How I Prayed for Church Ministry

On one of my earliest days in China, I spent a day at a local tourist trap with a new Chinese friend. I bought a black-and-white painting of peasants gathering for hotpot in a corner restaurant, and lugged it back on the long walk through crowded streets that smelled strongly of fried dough and stinky tofu. I think we got a bit lost, although I didn’t quite understand what was happening – both my friend and I were new to town, and my Chinese language skills were nonexistent.

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“How can we pray for the church and her ministry in China? How do we even know what to pray, when it seems things are murkier than they have been in many decades?

The hotpot painting now hangs on my wall in America, a reminder of a different time. Many of us who care about China perhaps imagined we would spend our lives there. Yet most foreigners have now left the country, and for Chinese believers, the future is uncertain. These are tenuous times for the entire country, and believers can easily feel isolated and alone.

How can we pray for the church and her ministry in China? How do we even know what to pray, when it seems things are murkier than they have been in many decades?

I am no expert, but here are three areas that I have been praying for, based on what I am hearing right now from Chinese Christians:

Steadfast Perseverance

I am praying that the church will continue in her course of following Christ. Especially when things feel turbulent, may the church press on, driven by confidence of who they are in Jesus.


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I am praying for pastors and church leaders to shepherd their flocks with an alert love that is aware of the pressures believers face, and helps equip them to face those stressors. In a reflection on Psalm 134, Guan Lufei wrote, “May God give the pastors, elders, and preachers of this generation a heart to watch for the church. May he raise up a group of watchmen who are willing to watch for his flock.”

This month, a group of pastors shared with us their concerns about leading their churches through the twin troubles of pandemic and persecution. How can they help believers focus on building the kingdom, when they are worried their own lives might crumble?  Chinese churches must have a firm confidence that what they hope for is true. To hold fast, they must remember: “The eternal kingdom cuts through the shadows of reality…By faith, we see the golden shore we will one day reach.”

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“Chinese churches must have a firm confidence that what they hope for is true.

Love One Another

I am also praying for Chinese churches to remember, encourage, and cling to one another. I am praying that they will show the world they are Jesus’s disciples by the way they love one another. A Christian attorney who represents many churches and church leaders when they experience persecution wrote that the ministry of love is a powerful testament to the strength of the gospel. When one church reaches out in compassion to another, suffering church, it encourages both bodies.

The attorney wrote, “When one church was punished, another church came to support them. When, in turn, that supporting church was penalized, other churches to their aid. Churches like this are very reassuring. Churches who act in such a manner speak for the gospel.”

Believers that are facing trials of faith often struggle. They need love, compassion, and care from their brothers and sisters in the faith. I am praying Chinese churches will become experts in this ministry of mutual love and caregiving.

Know and Share God’s Love

Finally, I am praying for Chinese churches to remain focused on their own love relationships with their Father. Out of that intimate relationship, I pray they will continue to share Christ with the many Chinese who do not know him and have not heard of his love.

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“Knowing Christ and making him known is at the heart of our faith. May Chinese believers continue to do this with every opportunity they have.

Muzi, a Chinese believer who went to detention not long after she became a believer, said that difficulties can strengthen faith. She wrote, “Saints who have experienced the salvation of the cross have a strong and sincere confession of faith. These saints know the purpose of both their life and their death is to preach Christ, and to proclaim how he brought us from death into life.” Another Chinese sister encouraged a brother preparing for a meeting with officials to pray and share the good news with them. She said, “Cut to the gospel – this is a time of epidemic and death.”

Knowing Christ and making him known is at the heart of our faith. May Chinese believers continue to do this with every opportunity they have.


E.F. Gregory is a mom of three young children. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley on the border of East Los Angeles, where her husband is a P.C.A. church planter.  

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for Chinese churches to hold steadfast to their faith, to love one another, and to know Christ and make him known.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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Nanjing: A Welcoming City of Newcomers
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Nanjing: A Relational Gospel
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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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