I will tell of the decree: the Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”
Persecution is increasing in China. Since the arrests at Early Rain Covenant Church in 2018, the pressure on the unregistered church in China has only grown. Meeting places have been raided, resources confiscated, elders brought in for questioning, worshipers beaten and harassed. Not every Chinese house church has experienced this mounting scrutiny, but the trend is clear: persecution is, unfortunately, the new normal for many believers in China.
However, the way many Christians are responding to this persecution is nothing short of astounding: in many churches, there has been a growing trust in the startling reality of Christ’s kingship. The last four years have seen many Chinese believers repenting of idols and fixing their eyes on Jesus. How can this be?
Serving a Living, Reigning King
For many, the reality of persecution has only served to emphasize the fact that this world is not our home. One Chinese pastor remarks that the relatively peaceful times before 2018 saw the church in China increasingly desiring a comfortable, middle-class, “American” life. Their vision of the kingdom began to blur, being replaced by an earthly kingdom of comfort. But God has used persecution to sharpen their vision once again. They are being reminded that they are citizens of another kingdom. They serve a different king.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
But it goes deeper than this: the Chinese church is increasingly recognizing that the king we serve is not merely some distant theological idea. No, Jesus is alive. He has ascended to the right hand of God. He is ruling, right now. He is as real (more real!) than any president or prime minister or ruler who currently occupies an earthly throne. What’s more, his kingdom is not simply a loose collection of ideas or beliefs; it is a real, political reality.
I have seen my Chinese brothers and sisters deeply encouraged by this living, breathing reality. They desire to encounter King Jesus, really and truly. In encountering him, average men and women are empowered to walk through even the most harrowing persecution and suffering. This is not because they are better than believers in the rest of the world, or less broken, or more holy; it is simply because of the incredible, Spirit-infused power of the reigning king.
Not only does this reality impact the way they live through difficulty, however: it also impacts the way they pray.
Encountering the King in Our Prayers
Ever since 2017, China Partnership has focused on raising up prayer for the church in China. As persecution rises, praying for our brothers and sisters has only become more crucial. This year, as we pray for the Chinese church, we want to learn from the lessons God has been teaching them so we too can be revived…and, in turn, so that we can better come before the throne of grace on their behalf.
Putting it another way: in 2022, we want to encounter the king with them so that we can better pray for them.
Of course, those of us in the global church—especially those of us in the West—are not experiencing persecution like our brothers and sisters in China. Yet we still serve the same risen king; we are still able to encounter him. We do this through the Spirit, and through the Spirit-empowered reading of his Word.
For this reason, we would like to invite you to encounter the king with us in the Psalms. Through the Psalms, we have the amazing opportunity to pray the Spirit-inspired words back to our risen king, shaping and (re)forming our hearts around the cadences and rhythms of his Word. In the Psalms, we find prayers and Spirit-driven emotion for all aspects of life: brokenness and joy, our family and our workplaces, our churches and our ministries. Our desire in 2022 is to use the Psalms as a guiding light, first so that we may encounter the king in our own lives, and second so that we may better pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters.
Even in persecution, Jesus has not forgotten the church in China. He is encountering them in the midst of suffering, in his Spirit and through his Word. This year, let us come before the throne of grace on their behalf, entering the courts of our glorious king by encountering him through his Word.
Will you join us in praying for the church in China this year? Will you walk with us as we encounter the risen king together in the Psalms?
M. Mills serves as China Partnership’s Communications Manager. He spent three years teaching English in China and lives with his wife in Chicago.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION