How To Face Persecution: Pastoral Care

Editor’s note: When the church encounters persecution, how will she respond? In 2019, several pastors shared their thoughts on how the persecuted church can and ought to face her troubles. In this first excerpt, a pastor shares how Early Rain Covenant Church responded once persecution hit — and how other churches can also prepare to face difficult times while remaining faithful to Christ.

This excerpt has been edited and condensed for both clarity and length.


Remaining Faithful

Editor: In the midst of persecution, how can the church remain faithful to the Lord, and to the church’s mission and vision? (For example, amidst persecution, brothers and sisters might be fearful of oppression. It is also easy for feelings of doubt, suspicion, and distrust among believers to arise.) How can the church, as a unified and organic body, establish a system of pastoral governance when persecution is occurring?

“A church under persecution is in great difficulty. Communication among members is limited. Believers face great pressure, and many spiritual challenges… Under persecution’s pressure, the weaknesses and struggles church members experience are very real.”

Pastor Chen: A church under persecution is in great difficulty. Communication among members is limited. Believers face great pressure, and many spiritual challenges. The church’s leaders may have lost their freedom and be unable to carry out their pastoral duties. Under persecution’s pressure, the weaknesses and struggles church members experience are very real. At the same time, previous systems of pastoral care and governance may have been disrupted. How can a persecuted church remain faithful to its mission and vision?

This is a great challenge, and tests the very mission and vision the church professes. In the case of Early Rain, the church’s mission and vision became clearer and more concrete through persecution.

The Gospel

First, we face persecution in the gospel. Early Rain had a plan: different levels of pastoral care, coping mechanisms for various situations, and adequate preparation and training. That said, when persecution occurs, no one can adapt and acclimate as quickly as needed. How the gospel calls us to deal with the current situation of persecution is a central pastoral question.

Do brothers and sisters have courage to admit their fears and weaknesses to gospel light? Can they, at the same time, be strengthened by that gospel? Can we, with gospel strength, begin to restore church order and resume worship, instead of falling apart? Can we use the pre-established plan to start worship programs and sermon content back up as quickly as possible? (Early Rain, for instance, follows the Heidelberg Catechism.) That way, even if groups cannot gather, the church may be forced to disperse, but still remains united as one.

The Word

Second, we have confidence in the Word itself. As we continue to develop pastoral care, new church leaders will emerge. God uses the unequipped to pastor his church. These brothers practice preaching to one another weekly, give one another feedback, and then: they preach. Everyone is surprised to discover God’s Word is what truly shepherds us! God can use unequipped brothers to nurture his church; he does not need just Pastor Wang Yi. This is faith in the Word itself.

““Do brothers and sisters have courage to admit their fears and weaknesses to gospel light? Can they, at the same time, be strengthened by that gospel?”

At the same time, gospel power is seen in how brothers and sisters respond to the Word. Those who do not sing praise songs or share the gospel in prison often find they are weak once released from jail. On the other hand, those who openly shared the gospel in prison have much better spiritual health once they are set free. Although they may have been disoriented at the beginning of their time in jail, as they gradually talk about the gospel, they earn the respect of drug addicts, thieves, and even guards. They experience repentance from their sins and faith in the gospel, and their hearts are set on fire.


Never miss a story

Sign up to receive our weekly email with our original articles.

The Truth, the Spirit, and the Kingdom

Third, shape the church community in the truth. When a church faces persecution, brothers and sisters may experience suspicion and distrust. For example, some might be fearful they will be held responsible to manage donations. We must allow truth to shape relationships between church members.

Fourth, our witnessing should reflect our longing for our loved ones. But at the same time, we should also show the Spirit’s beauty and goodness as we deal with police and in the way we carry ourselves. This is true both in and out of prison. These testimonies are very precious.

Fifth, our view of the kingdom must be shaped in the gospel. How does the local church interact with her presbytery? During persecution, we can reflect deeply on this. When elders are absent and could not give communion, courageous and caring churches in the presbytery opened their doors, inviting persecuted members of Early Rain to join their service. Brothers and sisters took note of the connection between churches, and began to form the concept of the kingdom. Before, there was a strong “me” mentality; people thought their church would no longer be intact if they worshipped at a different church. But now, they are grateful to other churches for accepting them.

““In the midst of persecution, church members…were grateful to see so many churches caring about, helping, and praying for them. Brothers and sisters realized they are part of Christ’s body. They do not gather in the name of Early Rain, but in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians says we are one body, and that body transcends any one congregation. We belong to the universal church. In the midst of persecution, church members began to become a deeper and more active part of “one holy catholic church.” They were grateful to see so many churches caring about, helping, and praying for them. Brothers and sisters realized they are part of Christ’s body. They do not gather in the name of Early Rain, but in the name of Jesus Christ.

Finally, during persecution, effective communication channels need to be established. This is an important part of planning. Now, using the Internet, we can dig up treasures from the past, like Pastor Wang Yi’s sermons. We can also share resources and pray for one another through these working communication channels.


Pastor Chen has been in ministry for more than 20 years. He and his wife are the parents of two adult children.

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for Chinese churches facing persecution to root themselves in the gospel and in Scripture.

Share This Story

Further Reading

zhimai-zhang-iTf45b2M_0U-unsplash
Nanjing: Loving People Through Prayer
Read More
shio-yang-g_C8w1QBca0-unsplash
Nanjing: Love Under Pressure
Read More
zhang-kaiyv-L9NHlk2CGOQ-unsplash
Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
Read More

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

Videos

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.

Videos

Stories from Shenyang

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.

Videos

Stories from Qingdao

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.

Videos

Stories from Xiamen

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.

Videos

Stories from Chongqing

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.

Videos

Stories from Nanjing

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.

Videos

Stories from Changchun

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.

Videos

Stories from Guangzhou

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.

Videos

Stories from Kunming

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.

Videos

Stories from Shenzhen

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. 

Videos

Stories from Chengdu

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.

Videos

Stories from Beijing

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.

Videos

Stories from Shanghai

give

A short message about partnering with us.