Sunday Sermon by Pastor Wang Yi: The Way of the Cross, The Life of the Martyrs

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On the evening of Friday, May 11, Pastor Wang Yi and Pastor Li Yingqiang were arrested in advance of their church, Early Rain Covenant Reformed Church, holding a memorial service for the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Following their arrest, around 200 members of Early Rain were also detained throughout Saturday and government officials raided the church, hauling away close to 10,000 books from the church library. Wang Yi’s wife and church members searched for the pastors in local detention centers, but were not able to find them.

Early Rain and Grace to City called for global prayer to start at 10pm Beijing Time for the situation. Churches across China, the United States, and elsewhere gathered to pray. At 10:20pm Beijing Time, Li Yingqiang was released and Wang Yi called his wife to let her know he was also headed home soon. 

In recent months, Wang Yi and another leader in the Chinese house church, Gao Zhen, have called for large urban churches to take the heat politically in order for smaller churches to go untouched by the introduction of new religious regulations. This is a translation of Wang Yi’s sermon on Sunday morning after his return and reminder of the commitment he is asking his church to make on behalf of their brothers and sisters across the country.


When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

Revelations 6:9-11


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Peace be with you, brothers and sisters.

Praise the Lord. Doesn’t this Sunday seem especially precious in the presence of the Lord?The night before I was taken away to the central investigation area of the Qingyang Branch of the Chengdu Police Bureau. This time I went through the formal procedures; I had to take off all my clothes; they took away all my belongings. Finally, they even took away my wedding ring. What was I thinking at the time? It was like the chief priest going into the Most Holy Place; he had to leave behind all his belongings and relationships, because he must face the Lord by himself. Therefore, with all my prior experiences of being taken to the police station in all these years, this time my heart was unprecedentedly calm.

In my previous experiences inside the police station, I would worry about our church and my family. I would think, what could happen to them, what could happen outside? Yet when the police asked me to take off my wedding ring, I was able to put everything aside all of a sudden.

Lord, I turn my family over to you, as well as your family, the church. You are responsible now because I can’t control it anymore. Now I only need to face you alone; I will face the almighty God alone with my conscience. Everyone will have to fight his own battle. Therefore, when I came out of the police station and read all the messages, I thanked God for the great things he had done among you. I thank God for being with you.

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Lord, I turn my family over to you, as well as your family, the church. You are responsible now because I can’t control it anymore.

I wanted to ask the brothers and sisters here, if you were taken away by police vehicles, could you raise your hand? Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Are there any brothers and sisters who were forced to stay home? Could you raise your hand? There were many brothers and sisters who were forced to stay home yesterday. Praise the Lord! We know that even now there are some brothers and sisters who are forced to stay home, or they are not allowed to attend this Sunday worship.

I read many messages and was particularly moved by the prayers of churches all over China. Many have expressed the similar idea that this was originally only a prayer meeting for a church of two to three hundred people, but it turned into a prayer meeting for believers all across the country, then a prayer meeting for believers all across the world. Praise the Lord. I found out that one social media account drew sixty thousand viewers within two hours (from 10 pm to when Yingqiang and I were released at midnight last night) who were praying for our Early Rain church. Pastor Fang from Xuzhou told me that over a hundred people gathered at his church to pray for us last night. This morning Pastor An Xi of Beijing Disciples Seminary said the attendance at their morning prayer meeting today was the highest in all these years. I thank the Lord, he has not only done great things among us, but also through us in all the churches in China.

We ask the Lord to test us for the sake of the gospel; while we are not worthy to be tested by God, what will come, will come. We cannot even say we long for its coming; not a day do we hope it would come; yet nor do we hide from it. We have not been hiding; we have been preparing ourselves.

Today’s sermon was decided two weeks ago as I was scheduled to preach at the Covenant of Grace Church with the topic “The Way of the Cross, The Life of the Martyrs,” and this week you all learned to sing this song. Yet who would have thought that God’s plan is for me to preach this sermon among you today? In fact, I had not finished writing it on Friday, but I was able to finish it inside the police station. There I read through Revelation, and then Esther, and God has been leading us along the way.

We thank God and praise God. Let us pray together:

Lord, you are the King of kings, you are the Head of the church, you are the Lord of our life, your ways are just and true. O Lord, your honor and glory and grace are great and amazing. O Lord, we praise and thank you! You are not only the Head of the church, but also the Lord of all the earth. We pray today that not only will you pour out onto us the power of your gospel and resurrection; you will also pour out the fire of the Spirit and the fire of the revival on all flesh in church gatherings all over China. O we also place in your hands those brothers and sisters who cannot be here today, because you are with them as we are with them. Lord, may the universal church be with them! We thank you and praise you!

Lord, reveal to us the final scenes according to Revelation, the spiritual war at the end of times. Lord, we are unworthy to fight in this war, but you are our Head, and you are the commander of the army of the Lord. Lord, lead us as the spiritual band of brothers, lead us as the spiritual 101st Airborne Division. Lord, make us into an arrow shot from your hand, never missing the target, never hanging in the air, never turning back, never to the left or right! Lord, submit us to you as the arrow submits to its master.

We thank you and praise you for listening to our prayer. We pray all these in the holy name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

God has done great things among us as we commemorate the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. 

The whole country, especially those of us who live in Sichuan, shares in the suffering of this earthquake. When we come here, we share and we pray as the suffering goes on. Suffering is not in the past; suffering is a continuous situation. To commemorate suffering we will have to bear the burden of  suffering, as we share the burden as God has instructed us to do.

I have also seen years of prayer in the presence of the Lord and how God has used it miraculously.

As I was in the police station last night, I reflected on all my previous experiences in police stations. The first time I was taken to the station was the first anniversary of the earthquake, which was May 12, 2009. At the time, the churches in Chengdu were preparing for a gathering to commemorate the earthquake, which was raided by the police.

At the time, the lawyer representing the churches to negotiate with the police was also a church leader, brother Liu Xin, husband of our former co-worker, sister Chen Xiaozhu; we prayed for them a while ago as they were in a car accident in Canada. Then some of us and people from other churches were taken into custody that night. And then it was yesterday, the tenth anniversary of the earthquake.

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How do you convert a day of prayer for one church into a day of prayer for the nation that many churches will participate in?

Since 2009, our church had adopted May 12th as a day of prayer, a special day to pray for the nation. Until yesterday we have hosted nine years of May 12 prayer meetings. Yesterday I saw many pastors calling to adopt May 12th as a national day of prayer for all the churches in China.

How do you convert a day of prayer for one church into a day of prayer for the nation that many churches will participate in? It’s not something that will automatically happen when you call for it. It is because you have prayed for this year after year, and you have to pay the price for it.

When I was reading Esther in the police station yesterday, I wrote this down, “Lord, make May 12th Purim for the Chinese church and let your children gather all over China. Of course, we gather not with real swords but with the whole armor of God, with the sword of the Holy Spirit, with the sword of the gospel; we gather to claim victory over the enemy. Give us the day of victory; the day when your enemy plots against your church, will be the day your church prevails. Amen! It will be the day when the Lord Jesus Christ crushes death. Amen! May the Lord give us such power.”

Let us look at scripture. The whole of chapter six is about the catastrophes brought by the seven seals. What we see here is the opening of the fifth seal. What did the first four seals bring?

We see one red horse, one black horse, one white horse, and one pale horse.

One horse stands for wars all over the world. It points to one ruler at the end of the age, one king who will bring war and suffering all over the earth, as well as the prince of the power of the air behind this earthly king.

What does the second horse represent? The second horse represents all conflicts, coups, the rebellions, and revolutions among the peoples all over the world.

What does the third horse represent? The third horse represents disease, poverty, economic chaos, financial crisis, inflation, and the collapse of the whole economic order.

What does the fourth horse represent?  The forth horse carries a rider whose name is death, but the name in the original language is pestilence; it represents pestilence and its rampage that can kill a quarter of the earth.

Revelation is not intended to tell us when this will happen, nor will it give us a detailed roadmap of events. It tells us one thing: before Jesus comes again, this world by its nature is against the gospel. Human evil will worsen over time. Therefore, the first four seals represent all kinds of suffering that permeate the end time – sufferings from politics, from wars, from diseases, and from nature. Now we come to see the opening of the fifth seal.

After the fifth seal, the sixth seal brings an earthquake, which is an apocalyptic earthquake that is one hundred, one thousand, or even ten thousand times stronger than the Sichuan earthquake. “The sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.”

About six o’clock last night, just as I was finishing up my notes on this side (the police station), two officials from the Enforcement Unit of the Bureau of Cultural Affairs came to me. They told me what they had done in our church and what they had confiscated. I said to them, what you have done was illegal; I was taken here under the allegation of “disturbing social order,” which is not related to your case. You will have to wait and make an appointment with me after I am released. I reject your enforcement. He said, “No problem. We will just ask a few questions.” I said, “You can ask and answer them yourself.” Then I went back to reading the Bible.

Then he started to question me, and I started reading aloud Revelation chapter six. By the time I got to chapter eight, they had already left. Before they left, he said to me, “You read very well; I used to like reading aloud too.” Then I read aloud to them, “When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake.” In the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus talks about the end times, it is a lot like this, right? The four horses coming out of the first four seals represent the four corners of the world, which also appear in Zechariah. When Jesus describes the end times, what else does he mention besides famine? A great earthquake. Let us look at the one in the middle, the fifth seal.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar. Let me ask you, where is the altar? It is in heaven. Notice one thing here: the first four seals – and also the great earthquake of the sixth seal – all happened on the earth, but the fifth seal is in the heaven. He saw the heavenly king of glory, the Lamb that was slain, and the alter under heaven. The souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne, that is, the souls of the saints, the souls of the martyrs. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

When we share the gospel, we usually want people to know that God is love, that on the cross Jesus has the power to save, but we also hope people will know that God’s wrath and the final judgment are real. Because the judgment is real, Lord Jesus Christ had to bear on the cross the suffering that we should bear.

In the final judgment, for all those who were innocently killed for the sake of the Lord, what will the earth give up? The earth will give up the dead, and the sea will divide and give up the dead. For those martyrs, how long will they have to wait? The sword of the Lord has been hanging in the air, but why hasn’t it come down? The sword of the Lord has been hanging over China for a long time, but why hasn’t it come down? Because the Lord is still waiting, because he is still giving time to his church, to his gospel, and to the opening of the gate of his grace. In him there is a time that has not been fulfilled; in him there is one number that has not been reached; in him there is one part of the journey that we have not yet finished. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, on earth we are like Abraham interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah. 

The church is the watchman for today’s world. If the church does not point out the evil of the world, the church will be condemned along with the world. The church is also the intercessor for today’s world. If the church does not pray in the presence of God, saying: God, do not destroy this great city of Chengdu, which has a hundred righteous people, fifty righteous people, or even one thousand righteous people. O Lord, do not destroy this city. 

Seekers do not know this; they do not believe this, but we will say to you, dear brothers and sisters, Chengdu exists because of you. Chengdu has not been destroyed because in this city there are faithful children of God. The people of China have not been destroyed by God; they should have been destroyed a long time ago; it is against God’s law to leave China from destruction.

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The church is the watchman for today’s world.

This deeply sinful people exists today because in its midst there are God’s people, because in its midst there are faithful children of God, because in its midst there are people who intercede for the people and for the nation, people who interceded and negotiated with God like Abraham, saying, “If the number of those attending our churches decreases, will you still save the city? Will you still destroy the city?” What about two hundred righteous people? Two hundred righteous is okay. 

Then they would boldly ask, What about fifty? Fifty is okay.

Even when there is only one. 

Even when there is only one – not you, not me – but our Lord Jesus Christ, the only righteous one. Is Christ in Chengdu? Is Christ in China? Christ, the only mediator, if only he is in China, if only he is in Chengdu…

When I was in the police station yesterday, I let go of everything. I thought about what is in front of us, and I did not know we have been preparing for this in the past two years. I was more certain of one thing: as long as this church is still proclaiming the gospel, as long as God’s word is still in the mouths and hearts of our brothers and sisters, this church cannot be destroyed.

I talked to a police officer last night and told him about an article written by an unbelieving Chinese religious scholar. Why does Christianity continue to spread? Why is it spreading faster and faster? He said the most important reason is the government’s restriction on Christianity over the last few decades, which actually led to the fast growth of Christianity. I said, each time you take action is foolish, because each time your actions will lead to the church’s revival.

Every time is the same. It is the same in the past half century, it is the same in the last year, and it is the same in the previous day. Amen! Therefore, when we look at the future, it will be the same. Amen!

There are two points here; one of them is the tension in the end times. Do we long for the Lord’s second coming? Do we long for the end of history? There is a tension between what has come and what has yet to come. This tension is not even just two-dimensional; for believers, it is three-dimensional. That is to say, I belong to the current age and to the age to come; I belong to earth and to heaven. Therefore, we live in this reality.

They asked, how long? God told them, rest a little longer. Until when? Till the number is complete. Therefore, there is a tension between this waiting and this incomplete number. If we were to ask: what are we waiting for? What has not been accomplished? Then we see something very surprising, suggesting that there is a reason history has not yet come to the end, that Christ has not come, and that we will have to wait and rest a little longer. What’s the reason? 

The number of martyrs has not been reached.

O in God there is a number for martyrs. Revelation is not intended to tell us what that number is. We do not know, but God has a number, which has to be completed through history. If we return to what Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, take up his cross and follow me”,

Does that mean the number of those who take up their crosses and follow Jesus has not been complete? That means the number of those who take up their crosses and follow the Lord, those who fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions, those who bear the mark of the cross by God, has not been complete.

And pay attention to this sentence, “They were each given a white robe” What does the white robe stand for? We all wear the white robes when we are baptized, and what does that stand for? It stands for holiness, that what they wear is not their own clothes, but the formal dress the king prepares for them for his feast, the things that Jesus Christ has accomplished for them. They are in white robes because they are waiting for the feast. Then the instruction for them is to wait a little longer.

This is the reason to wait, the mark to wait, right? Until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. Brothers and sisters, think about it: what are they waiting for? Wait for their fellow servants and their brothers, who were to be killed as they themselves had been killed. Are you clear about the people here? Are you clear who they are?

These people here were all killed, right? They are the saints who were killed in the past, right? The martyrs who wait at the table for their fellow servants, who are they? They are those who wait as fellow servants with you, right? That is to say, there is another batch of people beside you. “And their brothers”, means there is another batch of people, right? They were to be killed as they themselves had been, yet not as you would be.

So are you clear about it now? There are not two groups but three groups of people here, right? Here we see three groups of martyrs, you, your fellow servants who were to be killed, and the brothers of your fellow servants who were to be killed. We have seen a passing of martyrdom, right? We have seen a history of martyrdom. We can even say, martyrdom is death, right?

We have seen the continuation of martyrdom in the Lord’s church till the day Christ comes again. Therefore, how would you understand this waiting and this incomplete number?

I think it suggests a few things:

First, it suggests that martyrdom is not exceptional, it is not accidental; martyrdom does not belong to a certain short period; it is widespread and continuous. For the churches of all ages and all over the earth, martyrdom is widespread and continuous, even a glorious inheritance and cycle, not accidental, not exceptional, not temporary. The church will be filled with martyrdom and witnesses of the martyrs, through the whole age of the church, from the time when Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven until the day he comes again.

Last time we mentioned in the sermon that the twenty-first century is a century of martyrs. According to the statistics of an overseas missions organization, the number of martyrs all over the world in 2017 far exceeded the number of martyrs decades ago.

Second, you will see, as the text suggests, you, your fellow servants, and their brothers, which represents the cycle and passing of three different groups of people. Timewise, you can also say, this could mean three generations of martyrs, right? Saints of the past, saints to come, and their descendants. Therefore, my second point is, martyrdom is the common experience of churches of all ages and all peoples, a life experience shared by all of us.

It does not happen to every church; not every believer will be a martyr; but in churches of all ages, as long as you belong to the church, the life of martyrdom is a life we share in common. The song we chose today, including the title of my sermon, “The Way of the Cross, The Life of the Martyrs,” came from a hymn by the Korean church.

Many years ago I met a Korean missionary; he said one thing to me, “Why do so many Korean missionaries go to China?” Not only to China, but also to many other countries. Korea is not a big country. Do you know what is the total population in Korea? Do you know geographically how big Korea is compared to Sichuan? It’s much smaller than Sichuan. Korea is not even considered a mid-size country in the world. Such a small country, but its missionaries are all over the world. Is there a country without Korean missionaries? Not one. 

The number of Korean missionaries is second only after the United States, the number two mission-sending country in the world. But this Korean missionary said to me, even so, how many people are there in Korea? How many believers are there in Korea? That is to say, even with so many missionaries they are just a little matchstick, but China is like a room full of firewood. Their goal is to light a fire under you; if we do not light you up, we cannot burn very long as a matchstick, but you are like huge piles of firewood.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord light the fire among us. May the Lord light the fire in the Chinese church through the missionaries of all ages, including the many Korean and American missionaries who are still among us today. Amen!

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China is like a room full of firewood. Their goal is to light a fire under you.

This song “The Way of the Cross, the Life of the Martyrs” is not about an exceptional few, or the lives of a small number of martyrs in the church. It suggests that the life of the martyrs is the treasure and glory of the whole church. It is the whole church. If the church is one body, if the church is one in Christ, one connected body, then the life of the martyrs is the life of believers. Every believer shares in not only the crucified life of Jesus Christ, but also the life of the martyrs in Christ through the ages. We hope that the life of the martyrs is also flowing in and among us. Amen!

After I came back from the police station last night, a former elder at Shouwang Church called me and said, “What happened to you today was like what we experienced on the first day, that hundreds of brothers and sisters were taken away in buses. Then they blocked people from coming to gatherings.” 

This may become more and more likely, and they could mobilize a thousand, even thousands, or five hundred civil servants to come and block us from gathering. Gradually you may see that at your community or at your job or from your local police station, three or five civil servants may be mobilized to deal with just one person. When we were praying last Monday, I invited you to pray with me that the Early Rain Church could bring many civil servants to God in this city. Then God did bring a lot of civil servants here. Hallelujah!

The Lord is a God who hears our prayers, and he has his own ways. He says, “Work with this first batch; work as you go. Keep in touch with them and share the gospel with them; when they are almost done, I will send you another batch. Don’t you want to bring civil servants to me?”

Lord, lead us on.

When that former elder of Shouwang Church called me, I said, “You are right; you have persevered for so many years, and now it is our turn to pick up the baton.” He said, “That’s why I called you. You are taking over the baton now.” This incident at Early Rain is just the beginning.

Lord, lead us on.

Martyrdom is the mark of Christ’s second coming, because in this text the Lord connects martyrdom, the life of the martyrs, the number to be completed, his encouragement to the saints to wait patiently for his second coming, together with the judgment in the end times.

Therefore, just like the great earthquake is a mark for the end times, martyrdom and the life of the martyrs is also a mark for the end times. This is a hope that redemptive history is approaching the end.

When we think like this, you may be surprised and ask, how could martyrdom turn into a hope?

A hope for the end of redemptive history? How could the approaching end of history be a hope? 

For believers, we hope for the Lord to come again. Amen! Therefore, we hope for the life of the martyrs.

When we see the martyrs, when we see their witnesses, we know that redemptive history is progressing; we know that the end time – although we do not know which day it will be – is near. Our hearts will then be lightened; we will no longer think so much about the things on earth but more about the things in heaven. We will no longer think so much about the things of the present age but more about the things in the coming age. We will no longer think so much about ourselves but more about others. This is the life of the martyrs, this is a mark of Christ’s second coming in the end times; this is a mark in the life of a pilgrim.

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We didn’t ride the police vehicles to the police stations; we were on our way to Zion.

Lord, through the events of yesterday, reveal to this church and our brothers and sisters that we are a group of pilgrims.

We didn’t ride the police vehicles to the police stations; we were on our way to Zion. Amen! Lord, lead us on. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that the life of the martyrs is the glory of the church. We can even say that the life of the martyrs is what every believer longs for, what the church of every age longs for. Let us courageously tell this world that all they pursue is vanity; all is vanity. Let us proclaim to the world, as pilgrims on our way to Zion, that the ways of the world are all dead-end and dark and hopeless.

Therefore, in Ephesians 3:13, Paul said to the Ephesian church, I Paul am a prisoner for your sake. Paul wrote this while suffering as a prison, he encouraged the Ephesian church, do not lose heart or be discouraged over what I am suffering for you. Brothers and sisters, when we see a rise in illegal activities, when we see persecutions, when we see many brothers and sisters being taken away to the police station, is it possible for us to lose heart? 

It is possible, right? Will we be weak? We will. In the days to come, may the Lord be with us, whether we are strong or weak, let us walk down this way together. 

I know in our sinful nature, hearing these things may make you weak. According to your human nature, this will make you weak and discouraged. But Paul told the brothers and sisters in the Ephesian church, you shall not be discouraged or weakened over what I am suffering as a prisoner. Why shouldn’t they? Or how could they not be so? Because he said, this is your glory. Paul said, his imprisonment is the glory of the Ephesian church. He built the Ephesian church; his life is tied to the church in Ephesus. Therefore, he said, my imprisonment is your glory.

Let us return to a focal point of our application: dear brothers and sisters, what should a church glorify in? Who should a church glorify in?

We have many rich brothers and sisters in our church. We have quite a few big bosses in our church. Some people in our church have received prestigious awards. One brother in our church invented a very powerful tool. One brother in our church is very powerful and his company is ranked in the Fortune 500. I am not saying these things are not good, but none of these shall be the glory of a church, right?

The church does not become good because we have some capable members, some powerful members, some influential members, some rich members, or some accomplished members. No. What should a church glorify in? It should glorify in the suffering of Christ, the body that suffers for the sake of Christ, the life of the martyrs. What a church glorifies in, who it glorifies in, what kind life it glorifies in, will demonstrate whether it is a faithful church that is filled with longing for the end times. Amen!

Let me say this, those of you brothers and sisters who were taken to the police station yesterday, you are the glory of the church, you are my glory. As Paul said to the Ephesian church, you are my glory. Even Lord Jesus Christ said, he will to bring you onto his crown of glory. Lord, let us pursue this glory.

A lot of our books, including the Bibles and hymnals in our sanctuary, were taken away yesterday. Including the books on the two floors and in the seminary library, we lost about fifteen thousand books. Therefore, you should repent in the presence of the Lord, saying, why didn’t we buy more books? We should have bought more books for them. We might be able to get the books back, we might not; we might get some back, we might not.

But I will tell you, for our Early Rain Covenant Church, at least fifteen thousand books have been martyred before us.

But we touched them with our own hands, right? And we read them with own eyes, so there is no regret. Once a brother said, the police came and took away our money, what are we going to do? I said, are you complaining because our money has been martyred? The money belongs to God, right? Our tithes belong to God, and what’s God’s purpose behind every penny? To glorify himself, right? The ultimate purpose of God using every penny is to proclaim his gospel and testify for his glory. Now all the money of the church has testified to the glory of God. What are you worrying about? Therefore, we don’t care that the books have been martyred.

Last time one co-worker was worried that the brothers and sisters of the church were so passionate that they were distributing tracts on the street. Praise the Lord, we are encountering this trial in the middle of a revival rather than in the midst of a retreat or spiritual depression; that would be very hard for us. That co-worker was worried that many of our church and of the Covenant College were young people, and what if they were taken into custody or died at the police station?

I said, first, we don’t ask for these things, we ask for the Lord’s protection, right? This definitely is not what we want, but if such things happen, it is the glory of this church, the glory of his family, the glory of his life, the glory of the whole Chinese house church today. Amen! Neither would the church avoid these things. We do not pursue it, and we won’t ask for it, but we will not avoid it either.

We are unworthy. Which one of us is worthy to be a martyr? Which one of us is worthy to be ashamed for the name of the Lord? How much shame have you suffered in your life? Most of the shame comes from our own sins, most involve our own sins or the sins of others. Woe to me, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.

If there is one time that you are shamed or mistreated, and you know clearly that you have not committed any sins, that you have a clear conscience in the presence of God on this matter, you know clearly that the reason you encounter opposition is solely because of your faith in Jesus, like Paul in front of Herod Agrippa who questioned him, who testified every time that his imprisonment, his arrest, and his being beaten, were solely because of his faith in the risen Christ who gives new life. If you are firm about this, may the Lord give us joy in the heart. Amen!

So that we can say, Lord, we are unworthy servants and yet you have given me such glory. Brothers and sisters, yesterday in the police station, I said to the police chief of the Qingyang Branch, “You don’t believe in the Lord and you don’t understand, that if you arrest me and put me into prison, it would be a great glory for me. I have been waiting for this for years.”

I said, “You won’t understand this, that if you persecute this church, you are adding tremendous glory to this church, you are adding to the brothers and sisters of this church things they are unworthy of. You cannot understand this unless you come to know Jesus.”

Lord, lead us on.

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If you arrest me and put me into prison, it would be a great glory for me. I have been waiting for this for years.

Let us pray for the road ahead. I invite you to sing this song with me, The Way of the Cross, The Life of the Martyrs:

Lord, fill my heart with your love

Lord, fill my mind with your truth

My eyes are full of tears because of your saving grace

Lord, fill my mouth with praise

Make my two hands serve humbly just like you

I deeply wish the marks of Jesus remain in my whole life

The way of cross, the life of martyrs

What a blessed way this is!

Lord, I want to follow the footsteps of Jesus

Lord, make me your pure bride

With victory over all the temptations, difficulties, and mockeries

I gladly offer my life to you

Let us stand up and sing together, “The Way of the Cross”:

The way of cross, the life of martyrs

What a blessed way this is!

Lord, I want to follow the footsteps of Jesus

Lord, make me your pure bride

With victory over all the temptations, difficulties, and mockeries

I gladly offer my life to you

[Wang Yi reading]:

The way of cross, the life of martyrs

What a blessed way this is!

Lord, I want to follow the footsteps of Jesus

Lord, make me your pure bride

With victory over all the temptations, difficulties, and mockeries

I gladly offer my life to you

Let us come together and pray in the presence of the Lord:

May the way of the cross lead us in the front. May the life of the martyrs manifest in our life. Lord, lead us onto this blessed way that overflows with abundance. Lord, lead us to follow you and let us say, Lord, where you go, we will go. Where your apostles have gone, we will go. Where your power led the apostles and the martyrs, we will go. Where Wang Mingdao has gone, we will go.

Together we offer our lives in the presence of the Lord. We look upon you for the unity of this church. We look upon you for this church’s power in the gospel; we look upon you for this church’s love in the Lord. Lord, cleanse us with your precious blood for the sins that we have not confessed. Make us the holy bride worthy of fighting the holy battle. Lord, reconcile those who have complaints against each other and make us love each other, as only those who love each other can come together and fight the good fight.

Lord, make us despise the scoffing, suffering and temptations of the world. O Lord, while we are seen as garbage among the people, reveal to us that you have lifted us from the ash heap. Let us pledge in the presence of our Lord that I am willing to offer my life to you, my family to you, my sons and daughters to you. All my family and my descendants are in you.

Let us pray together in the presence of the Lord:

O Lord, we look upon your grace. Lord, lead us. Lord, you have done great things among us, you have been glorified among us and you will continue to be glorified among us. O Lord, lead us even though we are unworthy of it.

O Lord, use us. O Lord, lead us with your nail-wounded hands and let us touch your wounds. O Lord, let us touch the wounds of this age and the wounds of this city. Reveal to us all the lost souls in this city. Lord, revive your church.

O Lord, the cross is forever my glory. O Lord, lead us on that road of glory; what the world takes as shame, we take as glory. O Lord, let us count all things as rubbish, and suffering as trivial.

O Lord, lead us down this way in this city. Bring us into a revival that this city has never experienced, never seen, one that the world is unworthy of.

Lord, we thank you and praise you for listening to our prayer. Lord, in your presence we pray for revival. Lord, in this city you once enjoyed the glory of the gospel. During the Second World War when many Christian schools gathered at Huaxiba, Pastors Ji Zhiwen and Yu Lijun led a college revival that ignited the spiritual fire of the colleges in Chengdu. O Lord, that was over half a century ago.

O Lord, revive your churches in Chengdu. Lord, show this city something they have never seen, reveal to them the churches of the city. Lord, this world is unworthy of your children; what others treasure, we take as rubbish. What they fear, we take as precious. O Lord, let our faith overturn this city’s way of death, the life bound and controlled and slaved by wealth. O Lord, may we shake Chengdu awake; O Lord, shake Chengdu awake through your churches in this city; Lord, shake the lost souls awake. O Lord, awaken all the big and small churches in this city, those believers gathering in the name of the Lord in communities and families.

O Lord, revive us; O Lord, lead us.

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O Lord, may we shake Chengdu awake.

O Lord, we have nothing to seek in our life except to be in your presence and for your kingdom and your righteousness, and you will add all other things to us.

O Lord, may the life of the martyrs be with us. Lord, if you have mercy on the Chinese church today, give to the Chinese church today those who are ready to be martyred, those who are willing to follow you and offer their lives on the altar.

O Lord, we pray for the Chinese church. We look upon you for the churches all over China.

We look upon you particularly for all the church leaders and all those whom you have called to proclaim your gospel. O Lord, make them strong and courageous. O Lord, raise among them a great army of the Lord.

O Lord, we thank you and praise you, and ask you to revive this church. Revive your church by  reviving me.

O Lord, your church had ten years of great revival from 1927 to 1937, which still impacts the church one hundred years later today. Lord, we ask for another great revival.

Lord, impact the Chinese church even to a hundred years later and bless Chinese society to a hundred years later; when the Communist Party no longer reigns in this country, your grace will reign in this country. When all the powers of the world collapse, your churches will still stand on Calvary. I believe in Calvary, I believe the glory of the cross will forever be with your church.

O Lord, we place in your hands the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, the city of Chengdu and the province of Sichuan that have been through the earthquake, and those who cannot help themselves, those who are still in pain, those who cannot let go of their sorrow and anguish. Lord, give them to your church. O Lord, let all who labor and are heavy laden come to you, for all who come to you will be fulfilled and forgiven.

O Lord, let us pray and ask boldly in your presence, as John Knox did. Lord, give China to us, give Chengdu to us, give Sichuan to us, give them to your church and be glorified through us. Otherwise, Lord, take us to your heavenly home, as our life would be meaningless in this world.

Lord, we have no need or desire in this world. All we want is to have our life burning for the gospel of the Lord and for the great revival. O Lord, hear our prayer. What you did among the Chinese church before, do it again among us, do it again among the Chinese house churches today. Lord, we thank you and praise you. Raise up the Wang Mingdao of this age, the Ji Zhiwen of this age, the Song Shangjie of this age, wave after wave of faithful children in this age.

Lord, we thank you and praise you. Lord, hear our prayer and let our worship and praise shake the gates of the hell. Reveal your wisdom through your church to all the powers and authorities in China. O Lord, make the prince of the power of the air flee. Those who persecute your church with swords, let their feet be caught in their own net. Make the day they gather to persecute your church a day that they themselves will be shamed. The scaffolds they make for the church, let them be hanged on them.

O Lord, we thank you and praise you. Every age has Haman’s scheme and Haman’s cunning. Lord, defeat all those schemes for your own victory,  because you have been crucified on the cross. O Lord, you are risen. Lord, the one we follow is the risen Lord Jesus Christ. The cross will forever be our glory. We thank you and praise you, Lord, as army of God and as one church.

Lord, if you approve, send us.

If you see us as worthy, use us.                                                                                   

If you see us as ready and pleasing to your eyes, send us.

We thank you and praise you, Lord, for listening to our prayers in your presence. We pray in the precious and holy name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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I believe in Calvary, I believe the glory of the cross will forever be with your church.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Love Under Pressure
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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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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Stories from Shanghai

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