One More Sunday

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Editor’s note: This month, we are focusing on and praying for partnership between Chinese and global Christians. Today, a U.S. pastor writes of how a recent conversation with a Chinese friend ignited his heart anew with love for Christ and reminded him of how worthwhile following the Lord is.


Transformative conversations don’t happen every day. But a recent conversation with a Chinese pastor friend reinflamed my heart with love for Christ and for gathered worship. To protect the identity of my friend laboring in the underground church, I will refer to him as John. 

John reached out to me, seemingly out of the blue, wanting to catch up via Zoom. I hadn’t heard from John in a couple of years since he moved his family back to China to plant a church. I was delighted that he wanted to connect with me, but I didn’t anticipate it being one of the most important ministerial conversations of my life.

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“Behind the prayer for one more Sunday is a fervor and urgency to declare the good news of Christ, such that each pastor and church member risks their safety, their freedom, and their livelihood every Sunday in order to gather to worship the One True God.

Passionate Prayer that Doesn’t Take Worship for Granted

After sharing about our respective families, things shifted towards his church plant. I asked him what Sunday worship looks like, and he shared some things I wasn’t expecting. Before worship each Sunday, they gather as volunteers and staff and pray for the service at hand. Getting more specific, he explained that each Sunday they ask God to give them one more SundayOne more Sunday to share the good news of Jesus; one more Sunday to worship the triune God; one more Sunday to baptize new believers; one more Sunday to extend the balm of Christ to sinners and sufferers alike. One more Sunday. Every. Single. Week. What’s the fruit of that kind of urgency in prayer and worship? Renewal. 

As I’ve reflected, it’s dawned on me just how much I take Sunday for granted as a pastor in America. Though the pandemic has provided some minor bumps in the road, our corporate worship has never been threatened by police shutting our church down or imprisoning a pastor. Behind the prayer for one more Sunday is a fervor and urgency to declare the good news of Christ, such that each pastor and church member risks their safety, their freedom, and their livelihood every Sunday in order to gather to worship the One True God.


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Sure, we had to move online for a while in the beginning of the pandemic. Yes, we had outdoor services for many months, some of them chillier than I liked. But these restrictions have mostly been self-imposed. But throughout and certainly before the pandemic the urgency of one more Sunday was nowhere to be found, either in my heart or on my lips. As I survey the American evangelical landscape, the urgency of one more Sunday is not what marks most of our churches, and it shows. The fruit of this lack of urgency is not renewal. 

The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart through my brother to help me see that each time we gather for worship, we are presented with a precious gift. We are presented with a sacred space to share in and enjoy the good news of Jesus Christ and to adore our triune God as his beloved people. 

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“The Lord gave me a picture of the Chinese church being a pilot light for the global Church. When we go dark—when our affections for Jesus have moved from hot to tepid—we can look to our faithful brothers and sisters in China to ignite again our love for Jesus and his people.

What might happen in our churches if we prayed this way? Throughout church history, corporate renewal movements have always been accompanied by prevailing corporate prayer. It’s no mystery then that pervasive renewal is happening in China in the churches underground, but is seemingly absent here, in the churches above ground. Lord, have mercy. 

Re-igniting the Global Church

But that wasn’t the only impression John–and really Jesus–made on me that night. In God’s providence, prior to our Zoom meeting I had to reignite the pilot light in my hot water heater. We had moved into a new house days earlier, and were getting tired of cold showers. I consulted my friend Youtube to learn how to reignite the pilot light that had gone dark. As John was sharing, the Lord gave me a picture of the Chinese church being a pilot light for the global Church. When we go dark–when our affections for Jesus have moved from hot to tepid–we can look to our faithful brothers and sisters in China to ignite again our love for Jesus and his people. When I consider the imprisonments, beatings, and worse that many have endured for the sake of the gospel, it compels me to press on to know and love Christ and to treasure gathered worship anew. 

The final moment I’ll share is John’s answer to my question, “If you had a microphone where every preacher in America could hear you, what would you say?” Was that a dramatic question? I’ll own it, but just go with me. He took a few seconds to consider, then said, “The way of Jesus is suffering, not comfort. Choose the way of suffering.” Mic drop.  

Love that Leads to Repentance

Here’s the other thing I want you to know: at no point in our conversation did John have a hint of self-righteousness. He didn’t make me feel ashamed of all I had taken for granted. He didn’t make me out to be a comfort junkie. Not at all. Instead, like Jesus, he spoke with kindness. And that’s what has led me to repentance. 

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“The way of Jesus is suffering, not comfort. Choose the way of suffering.

One more Sunday. 

Pray with urgency when we gather to worship. 

God uses our Chinese brothers and sisters like a pilot light for the global Church.

The way of Jesus is uncomfortable. Choose suffering, not comfort. 

Jesus is alive and well, even–and maybe especially–in the darkest of places.

Jesus is kind, even to tepid Christians. But he loves us too much to leave us that way. 

Who knew, besides Jesus, that I needed yet another Zoom call in the midst of this  pandemic? Perhaps you did, too. 

Soli Deo Gloria, 

Rev. Andrew Kerhoulas


Andrew Kerhoulas is a pastor near Asheville, NC, where he lives with his wife and twin daughters.

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray that the global church will look to and be revived by the experiences of the Chinese house church.

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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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