Our Home Is In Heaven: To Run Or Not?

Editor’s note: In the last year or so, many Christians have begun to consider leaving China and making a life elsewhere. One Shanghai pastor who observed the phenomenon wrote this pastoral letter to his congregation to help guide them as they decide whether or not they should leave. This is the third and final section of that pastoral letter; the first and second sections can be found here.

Here, the pastor reminds Christians that hard times only point out the truth of the Bible and humanity’s need for rescue. He also reminds them that it is foolish to believe any country or system can save them, as all are marred by the effects of sin. Finally, he asks Christians to think carefully, pray deeply, and seek wise advice from other believers before they decide their course.

This translation has been edited and condensed from the original for both clarity and length.


Testimonies Around Us

““Perhaps the Bible is right. Perhaps we really do have nothing to cling to on earth except for our home in heaven. If we believe any country, any land, or any earthly political system is the salvation that will save us from the entanglement and harm of sin, then we are believing a lie.”

Dear believers, you see the injustice and the suffocating despair in this land. I wonder: doesn’t it seem like the Bible has never before seemed so true? In the past, you may have had a vague understanding of sin. Yet now, surely you must see sin more clearly. In the past, when you read the prophets or saw the violence filling the earth, perhaps you just thought that the Bible concerned events that happened a few thousand years ago in the Near East. Maybe you thought those events were out of step with today’s tranquil times. But at this point, you must know the prophets’ wrath and rebuke is just as deafening to us today as it was in the past.

Perhaps the Bible is right. Perhaps we really do have nothing to cling to on earth except for our home in heaven. If we believe any country, any land, or any earthly political system is the salvation that will save us from the entanglement and harm of sin, then we are believing a lie.

Have you ever wondered how Christians in the country to which you are considering emigrating would respond to your current expectations? Have you thought about where Christians in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or other developed countries will go when they face injustice, sin, and despair in their own countries? When they encounter suffering, division and hardship, where is their refuge?

Christians in those countries can emigrate as they choose. But I have often seen them move to places with more poverty and injustice, more spiritual barrenness, a more imperfect political system. They move out of faith, out of love and self-sacrifice, out of a desire to see the gospel spread, and for the glory of God. Yes, I am speaking of missionaries, both full-time and vocational.

Final Thoughts

First, I want to pour some cold water on the subject. If you are considering emigration, let me ask: when did you start to think about it? Have you wondered why many people are thinking of moving at this particular time, not before? Many people, including non-Christian friends, bought homes just before they began to think of moving abroad. When they purchased their house, they had a certain perception of society, politics, economics, and history. On what basis have they decided to go abroad? Do you fully understood the history, culture, customs, different values, food, and climate of the country you want to go to?

““There have been far more times of war, famine, and poverty throughout history than of development, prosperity, and peace. Frankly, we had 40 years of relatively peaceful development. That is rare, and not to be taken for granted.”

If you are considering going abroad, think about the basis of your decision. Is it fear and anxiety? Are you deciding based on politics, economics, and history? Or are you merely following the crowd? Is it possible you might be wrong? Many times we seem to be “free.” But if we do not start with the fear of the Lord and truthful thought, then maybe we are not free or wise. Instead, maybe we are being led by the world and are falling into Satan’s deceptions.


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Our generation, comprised mostly of those born in the 80s and 90s, grew up when our country was moving from poverty to relative prosperity. We were on an upward trajectory, and most of our life choices were based on the assumption society was improving. Yet throughout human history, that has never been the case. Because the world is fallen, whenever humanity was living in a hopeful way, sin has always been able to destroy everything. There have been far more times of war, famine, and poverty throughout history than of development, prosperity, and peace. Frankly, we had 40 years of relatively peaceful development. That is rare, and not to be taken for granted.

““Whether or not you emigrate, do not make a choice you would regret when looking back on your life. I mean that you should think deeply; do not make impulsive decisions. Pray, seek counsel from other believers, and read the Bible. God will lead.”

The Bible is the truth of God, and it is always right. Because this is a fallen world, every generation must be prepared to suffer. God loves us and wants to test us. We have received his salvation. We ought to think about how salvation works out in us. What is the calling and responsibility God has given our generation?

Most people in the world can consider emigration if they have the ability, the resources, and the choice. They do not make decisions based on faith. But we must not be like the world. We must think: where is our hope? If you are able, please meditate on Hebrews 11.

Whether or not you emigrate, do not make a choice you would regret when looking back on your life. I mean that you should think deeply; do not make impulsive decisions. Pray, seek counsel from other believers, and read the Bible. God will lead.


Chariot of Fire is a pseudonym for a house church pastor in Shanghai.

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for Christians to understand their home and salvation lies in heaven, and no earthly place or system can satisfy.

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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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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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