How I Prayed for Fellowship

On Sunday morning, I woke up and refreshed my Instagram feed. An account I usually follow for picturesque photos of local life in China was instead posting protest videos. Young people screamed out for release, and some even openly demanded political change – something I never thought I would see. After years of Covid restrictions, Chinese citizens seem to have reached a breaking point. For the first time since 1989, mass protests have broken out in cities across China. Something seems to have snapped. There is little doubt the protests will be quelled and the participants punished, and it is possible harsh repercussions are in store for many people across China.

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“When the lives and words of believers show that God exists and speaks to the real pain and anger that many are experiencing, people pay attention.

How can I fellowship with Chinese believers from my comfortable and safe home in the States? What does it mean for Chinese Christians to fellowship with one another when they may have very different perspectives on how to respond when so many are locked in their own homes? What is Christian fellowship in an age of disconnection, dissension, and disaster?

An Opportunity for the Gospel

When people risk personal security to protest, it is because they are profoundly disillusioned with the status quo. Those who merely watch the protests are also likely frustrated and frightened. In a time of widespread dissatisfaction, Christians have solid hope. All believers, in both good times and disastrous ones, share in this hope. When the lives and words of believers show that God exists and speaks to the real pain and anger that many are experiencing, people pay attention.

Right now, lots of Chinese are feeling disappointed in society and worried about the future. Of course, not all Chinese feel this way. But some people are clearly seeing, perhaps for the first time, that the answers offered by the world are futile. If these people encounter the hope of Christ, which is true and solid in the midst of suffering, then their hearts may become tender to God. If these people see Christian community sacrificing themselves for the good of those outside of their families, they can’t help but be moved. And who better to offer this hope than Chinese Christians, so many of whom vividly understand that following Jesus does not result in a life of comfort and ease – yet it is worth it nonetheless.

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“This is a time of great opportunity for churches inside and outside of China. I pray the church around the globe is ready to share Christ’s kingdom, which stands secure, no matter how much earthly nations stagger.

There are many Chinese living outside of China, yet carefully watching events within their nation. These Chinese diaspora are likely experiencing many of the same emotions, and are searching for the same answers. This is a time of great opportunity for churches inside and outside of China. I pray the church around the globe is ready to share Christ’s kingdom, which stands secure, no matter how much earthly nations stagger.


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A Dangerous Course to Navigate

There are, of course, many shoals around which Christians must steer in these times. In intense political times, many Christians will have different responses. Some will be tempted to put their hope in protest or in action, while others will want to disengage and avoid conflict. They may have completely different views on the righteous course of action. Perhaps the biggest danger for believers is that they will allow the arguments of the world to tear apart their Christian communities.

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“We do not know what the future will bring. But we know that God is with his people, and that none of his children follow him alone.

Yes, these issues affect every aspect of daily life and have the potential to end in serious consequences for believers and their families. But somehow, the church must find a way to show love to one another and to stand united in Christian fellowship, especially when there are a diversity of viewpoints in the same body. Christians need great amounts of wisdom to navigate these perilous waters. Pastors and leaders, in particular, must think carefully about how they shepherd their flocks to interact with the state and with their fellow citizens. In many ways, the church in the West has failed this test in recent years. But God himself never fails. I pray he will strengthen Chinese believers so they may bear “with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

I pray the Lord will grant those of us outside of the Chinese church the means to steadfastly stand with them in prayer. There is much we cannot do, but through prayer we can share in the joys and sorrows of the Chinese church.

We do not know what the future will bring. But we know that God is with his people, and that none of his children follow him alone.


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 that Christians inside and outside of China will experience the unity of the Spirit in these tumultuous times.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: A Welcoming City of Newcomers
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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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