Let Us Pray: A Letter of Encouragement

Editor’s note: This year, China Partnership is praying for the church in China to hold fast. In the fall of 2022, we spoke with Chinese house church leaders and asked them how the global church can pray for and support them in 2023. They specifically asked that we pray that they would hold fast to Christ and to his promises in the midst of pressure, persecution, and uncertainty. We invite you to join us as we labor in love and prayer for the church in China.

This letter of encouragement was written after the author spent time with many Chinese believers in Jakarta, Indonesia, at a gathering of many believers from all over the Asia-Pacific region. These are his thoughts after a week with Chinese Christians.


We are like you in all things essential

It is humbling to know that Westerners have something to contribute to the Christ-following believers in China – especially our prayers. We are more confident we have a great deal to learn from your faithful way of life in the present evil day.

Recently, a mainland pastor shared his testimony and captured an important reality. This pastor pleaded, “Please do not treat us as a mission in need, but as partners in the same commission. Let us be fellow brothers, fellow sufferers, fellow sinners.” In other words, believers in China and believers in North America have far more in common than differentiates them.

This pastor pleaded, ‘Please do not treat us as a mission in need, but as partners in the same commission. Let us be fellow brothers, fellow sufferers, fellow sinners.’

It is not the case that believers in China are held captive by their government, while in North America Christians are free. The Bible never describes freedom in political terms: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Jesus never defines slavery in relation to governing authorities, but said, “Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin.” Every Christian’s struggle against sin determines the bounds of their freedom and slavery. East or West, the Babylon spirit of licentious indulgence grows ever stronger, spinning a global web to snare all but the faithful.

It is also an illusion that believers in China are the persecuted, while believers in the West are free. This misconception arises when we confuse economic license with spiritual freedom.

Every believer is called to be a willing outcast of the world: “Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” In our nations, as in yours, we have to face the swelling riptide of atheist propaganda. Like you, we live in a godless land and must “redeem the time because the days are evil.”

We do not hate. Rather, we join you in praying for our enemies, for those who rule, for magistrates, police, and educators, asking that God would restrain or convert them.

We are unlike you in some important regards

Recently, my family had to evacuate during a raging forest fire, which destroyed 180 homes.  In North America, we are in a spiritual firestorm. Unlike you, we are strangely unaware of our peril – neither ready to evacuate, nor to engage the fires.

In North America, we are in a spiritual firestorm. Unlike you, we are strangely unaware of our peril – neither ready to evacuate, nor to engage the fires.

When it comes to learning from persecution, we all confess we have growing to do.  One of your pastors lamented, “Persecution is of no value if we don’t grow up in all things into Jesus Christ… so they will see our joy in suffering and ask why we are this way.”  Yes, you have need of growth in the Spirit – yet you know the times and discern the spirits.  On the other hand, for our part, we seem to imagine the current rise of evil is “just a phase that will pass.”


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You recognize the urgent need evangelize.  For our part, we experience a guilty silence. Every believer is endowed to proclaim “the mighty works of God.” You heed these words. We do not.

Let us pray for one another

To return to the theme of our common life, as we suffer, serve, and witness together in the evil day – let us pray for one another! Recently, we prayed with four Mainland pastors. How beautiful when they prayed for those who pray for them in North America. I do not understand Chinese, but I was deeply moved.

As we suffer, serve, and witness together in the evil day – let us pray for one another! Recently, we prayed with four Mainland pastors. How beautiful when they prayed for those who pray for them in North America. I do not understand Chinese, but I was deeply moved.

In China churches are being broken up by persecution and are meeting in smaller groups. One of your pastors begged us to pray. He said, “We have a great need to develop more leaders.” Some pastors work 80 hours. We also have great need for more pastors and leaders, not just well-educated preachers, but men and women willing to forsake all to follow Jesus, to train leaders, and to evangelize.

The seals have been opened, the final trumpets are sounding. Together we cry out: how long, O Lord, how long? In the brief remaining time, with one voice and one prayer, together we cry out to God for boldness to make Christ known. And when they had prayed…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”

Our faith is a global faith! We exult with you. “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”


John Smed is the founding director of Prayer Current, an organization that helps leaders make multiplying disciples through prayer and evangelism. His conviction for prayer was born out of thirty years of experience in church planting and urban mission.

 

Pray for Chinese Christians to be encouraged by the Word of God and the testimony of his people around the world, that we have not forgotten them but labor for and with them in prayer.

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Further Reading

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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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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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