Night Is Far Gone: A Letter to the Class of 2022

Editor’s note: Western China Covenant College is a Christian liberal arts college started by Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu. In June, Li Yingqiang, an elder of Early Rain, wrote a letter to this year’s graduating class.

This is the first half of Li’s letter, which warns young Chinese Christians to be on the watch for traps and snares of life, and urges them to remain alert as they begin their adult lives in a society that opposes Christ. He especially urges them to be careful in how they interact in virtual spaces, warning them that virtual sin does not remain in cyberspace, but will leave a tangible mark on their lives and hearts.


Peace to you, brothers and sisters, who are about to leave Western China Covenant College and enter a new battlefield.

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“Will tomorrow be better than today? Not really. Most likely, tomorrow will be darker. Persecution may become more brutal, and resistance to the gospel may become more evident. The visible church may become weaker…it may seem as though God is standing in the distance.

As you are leaving, the words “the night is far gone; the day is at hand” appear in my heart. This comes from Romans 13:11-14:

“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”


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Let me encourage you with a few things I have learned from meditating on this passage. 

Know The Age in Which We Live

From the time Jesus Christ opened the door of salvation, to the time he will return to announce the end of redemptive history, every generation of Christians lives in the age of “the present time.” The present time is an age of “deep night.” [Note: The Chinese words for “night is far gone” also mean “the night is deep.”] The progressive view of history, which believes light is continually overcoming darkness, is not biblical. Right now, we are still in a long, deep night before the morning light dawns and completely illuminates the world.

Will tomorrow be better than today? Not really. Most likely, tomorrow will be darker. Persecution may become more brutal, and resistance to the gospel may become more evident. The visible church may become weaker, and a colder winter, not the spring, awaits Christian education. If we see only a small part of history, it may seem as though God is standing in the distance, and as if the earth is under the rule of the darkness.

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“‘The present age’ is ending and a new heaven and a new earth will descend from heaven; God’s unwavering sovereignty has existed from all eternity, and every detail of this age is in his hands…all of history is moving toward God’s predestined ends.
We need to view our present age from a spiritual perspective.

However, two things are certain: first, “the present age” is ending and a new heaven and a new earth will descend from heaven; and second, God’s unwavering sovereignty has existed from all eternity, and every detail of this age is in his hands. History has not been derailed, and history is not aimless. Instead, all of history moves toward God’s predestined ends.

We need to view our present age from a spiritual perspective. The transition China is going through now is a fierce spiritual warfare. In heaven, the angelic army is fighting the demonic ruler of China. On earth, the Lord of the Church is waging a war against the devil, the world, and the power of sin. In this battle, ancient Eastern authoritarianism, modern materialism, ethnicism and nationalism have combine dwith the entrenched humanism and pragmatism of Chinese culture. The result is a ruling order of “Emperor Qin plus Marx.” This order has been at war with the Christ-and-gospel-centered church for seventy years. The current round of persecution, since February of 2018, might be the last phase of this battle. We do not know how long this phase will last, but we believe that at the end of this battle, we may face not only an apparent “spiritual harvest” but another, more intense war with secularism.

Watchman: Keep Your Eyes Open in the Dark of Night

Dear students, the most important thing is to stay spiritually alert. In Paul’s words: wake from sleep! Today many things make us drowsy. The world has already fed many of you its magic potion of individualism, materialist ecstasy, and the hypnotic drug of relativism. Because of this, you have lost track of night and day.

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“The most important thing is to stay spiritually alert. In Paul’s words, “wake from sleep.” Today there are many things making us drowsy. Many of you have already been fed by the world’s magic potion of individualism, materialist ecstasy, and the hypnotic drug of relativism.

When you spend hours on Internet-connected phones and computers, you are not joining a sea where you can swim freely, nor are you coming to a giant supermarket where you can shop freely. You are in a dark jungle full of pits, traps and snares. At any time, fierce beasts may attack. What’s worse, this jungle is filled with a hypnotizing fragrance which makes you lose track of the passage of time and alertness to the coming crisis.

If you are unable to control the time you spend scrolling WeChat and watching videos, you need to be very careful. Not only are you reading unhelpful information, but even more frightening, this will lead you to fall in love with the world’s riches and to dislike the monotony of the church. On the other side, you may come to believe so deeply in the corruption of the world that you forget your own depravity. Without realizing it, you become paranoied and are convinced by conspiracy theories. You feel other Christians are stupid and naive.

Dear students, many of you are born citizens of the “two-dimensional world.” You must to be especially careful, because although the world is virtual, your sin and the time you invest there are not virtual. The virtual world’s impact is imprinted on your soul. To this day, the church has very little knowledge of how to enter the “metaverse” and spread the gospel there in the battle for souls. Because of this, life in virtual spaces lacks the protection of the spiritual state. You will often be alone, exposed to the devil’s flaming arrows. 


Elder Li Yingqiang is an elder of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu. He and his wife have two children. 

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for Chinese Christians to understand their times, and to remain alert.

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Further Reading

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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 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 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

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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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