Editor’s note: The following is a testimony from a pastor in southeast China. She shares about the challenges her congregants face in their workplaces as Christians and about God’s faithful guidance and provision amidst trials. In Part 1 of her testimony, this pastor shares her own personal experience with the financial struggles of pastoring a house church and the process of learning to trust God to provide for her livelihood.
In China, it is well known that every industry has its own hidden rules, which are just irregular regulations. As a result, brothers and sisters face a lot of struggles and temptations in each of their respective industries.
I am very grateful that our church pastors our brothers and sisters according to the Bible. We encourage them, and of course, we also understand their needs and weaknesses. However, we never compromise for the weaknesses of people. We do not compromise for human weaknesses because we can experience his weakness. That is why we are always leading them with the word of God.
Two sisters have made a deep impression on me.
The first one is a lecturer. Her job is giving lectures. She travels frequently, which results in many business expenses, travel expenses, and various fees that she can get reimbursed later. She usually goes out and comes back with her colleagues as a team. Then they file for reimbursement. Her colleagues often want to put down a larger number so that they will get a higher reimbursement.
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This phenomenon is a very dishonest trend in China. If you ask for a receipt after buying some fruit for church visits, the owner will ask, “Do you really want to write down the price as it is?” By this he means, “Do you want to put down a higher number?” This has become a non-shameful thing to do, so they don’t think it is a problem.
However, we Christians will certainly struggle in our conscience. We have to face God, so what should we do? Our sister, a very young sister, brought her struggle to the church and asked to pray together and seek help from the church. We prayed together, and the answer we had was that we must speak honestly, and God will reveal himself in this matter. It is the right way.
After she prayed about it furiously, she was honest with her colleagues and said, “I’m a Christian, and I cannot do things that violate God and my conscience, so I am going to file an honest reimbursement form with our company. As for you all, I don’t want to make myself stand out or just show off. I don’t mean that. It is up to you. I cannot help you. I have to face my God.”
After hearing this, several of her colleagues suddenly started to feel conflicted, but they dared not to rebuke her. Then they returned to their dormitories and discussed it among themselves. After discussing it for one night, they came to our sister’s room and said, “Ah! Actually, we don’t want to do things like this, either. Our consciences are also troubled. We appreciate your courage to lead us to do the honest thing.” After this, they stopped doing such illegal things. This sister then also started to preach the gospel in her workplace, and some of her coworkers are coming to church.
She has given a beautiful testimony. All things work together for good. There are many terrible phenomena like this in China, but they are the things that give us Christians the opportunity to bear witness for God and share the gospel.
The other example is from one of our sisters who is a gymnastics coach. She coaches children and she worked for a very famous gymnastics team in China. She had been sharing the gospel among her students, so that the kids could believe in the Lord. As a result, many kids were eager to hear the amazing work of God, and every day they would seize their coach and ask her, “Coach, tell us about God.”
This made our sister very happy and she shared the news with us in our Wechat group. The result was that the surveillance of the authorities caught her message. They became aware of it, and they put massive pressure on the school, pushing the principal to prohibit our sister from doing things like this. They wanted her to write an affidavit, in which she had to promise not to preach the gospel to the children or talk about her faith in school. She faced this kind of oppression, and of course it was overwhelmingly aggressive.
We left our city to travel to a pastors’ conference and stopped over in another city. She had arrived at the other city when her principal urgently called her and asked her to come back to the school. He insisted that she go back, saying, “No matter what transportation you choose, either by train or by air, you have to come back and explain the situation to me.” He wanted her to face the situation with him. The principal did not know how to face the pressure on him from the authorities above. The only thing he could do was to drag the sister back and make her talk to them.
Our sister insisted, “It is such a rare opportunity for me to get out to attend this conference. I don’t want to go back.” So we prayed together. We fasted and prayed together that afternoon, and our prayer brought us great peace.
It particularly brought our sister great peace. She said, “If it was my mission to preach the gospel to those students at the school, then I am ok with it. I am willing to let go of my job to accomplish this mission. Then, I can happily leave.”
She made her decision and called the principal, “I used to work very diligently, and I was always too busy to have any opportunity to receive training in the church. It is rare for me to be granted a leave to come here this time, I don’t want to go back. Could you allow me to complete my training first and then go back?” He replied, “No! You have to come back.” “Well, if my personal behavior affects the school, then I am willing to resign. This will be my explanation and response to you. ”
Then the principal said that he really liked our sister. He really liked her, and he did not want her to resign. But our sister explained, “First, I cannot do anything even if I went back. And I will never give you an affidavit. I will never write an affidavit promising that I will never preach the gospel. Because I am a Christian, I must preach the gospel. Second, I have told you that I had already shared the gospel, and I don’t know what else I can do to explain the situation. The only thing I can do is to resign, so that this will not affect your school.”
Eventually, her principal said, “Ok. Send me a resignation letter right now. You don’t need to come back.” That’s how she got to stay here for this conference, and we don’t know what will happen when she goes back. It is this kind of experience of faith. There are many struggles in the workplace, but with the leadership of God, there is nothing unspiritual within God’s will. So we all have experienced many trials of faith like these.
Translation provided by Rachel, Ryan, and the China Partnership translation team.