Accused of Fraud: The Church’s Response

Editor’s note: The below is an excerpt from a 2021 article. In the last year or so, many Chinese house church leaders have been arrested on charges of fraud. Because their churches receive tithes and pay their salaries from the tithes, these pastors are charged with defrauding their church members, running an illegal business, or other similar charges.

This is the second in a two-part series on this issue. In the first excerpt, house church elder Li Yingqiang focused on theological reasons behind these charges. In this conclusion, he shares specific thoughts on how house churches ought to respond when they face these sorts of accusations.


An Embassy of the Kingdom

Here are specific thoughts on how house churches can respond to persecution.

In the face of being persecuted with accusations of fraud, the church’s primary mission is to maintain its identity as an embassy of the kingdom of heaven. The church’s job is to obey the commandments of the kingdom of heaven. The church should not compromise or distort God’s commands, but should actively prepare itself to walk in the way of the cross the Lord has given her.

No one should stop giving financially based on the pretext that the church is facing persecution. The church should also not stop collecting offerings out of a desire to avoid risk. The heavenly nature of giving is more truly revealed when there is risk in doing so.


Would You Pray With Us Today?

Sign up to receive our weekly prayer emails with requests for the house church in China

Just as the church should not use risk as an excuse to cease giving, the church should also not stop providing for the preacher – or for workers in the church – because of risk. If the church does this, it will incur God’s wrath and discipline. The Lord feeds the workers he calls through the money his children give.

>
“No one should stop giving financially based on the pretext that the church is facing persecution…The heavenly nature of giving is more truly revealed when there is risk in doing so.

Each local congregation can use its own discretion to wisely collect and administer offerings. Some methods of paying workers’ salaries may be better protection against persecution. As churches exercise discretion, we must continually ask ourselves: “Are we doing this because we fear the Lord? Are we doing this out of love for our brothers and sisters? Or are we doing this out of our own fear?”

Churches should teach brothers and sisters how to make biblical choices. Of course, believers must make biblical decisions about giving. But churches should also teach brothers and sisters their role when they are asked to assist as witnesses and/or victims in investigations of their preachers on charges of fraud.  When believers face this issue, we must think in a balanced way. We should see the issue from three perspectives: the norm; the situation; and the motive for being there. We cannot simplify God’s law to shirk our most important responsibility of loving both God and people.

In conversation, one pastor told me:

“When the government begins to invent the sins of preachers like this, the difficulty is not really about whether believers are willing to give or not. Instead, the trial is more focused on how many co-workers in the church are willing to manage the tithes. Later, this will invariably increase the risk they may be convicted alongside the preacher.

“The preacher must prepare for the possibility that, one day, he may be arrested as a fraud. Those who manage the money should be prepared for the possibility of becoming accomplices. Normal believers should be prepared to be viewed as “victims.” When they face authorities who are threatening to charge their preacher, they must consider how their consciences will stand at the future judgment before God.

“Churches should use more wisdom in the specifics of how they provide for their preachers. When they manage the way preachers receive their salary, they should try not to leave behind evidence.”

This insight is important, so I am sharing it here for you.

The Pastorate

Finally, I want to make some comments on how preachers ought to face and respond to persecution. This round of persecution is a fiery examination of the calling of the preacher. Every servant of Christ who is called today to serve the church in China should honestly ask: “Am I really willing to take up my cross and follow Christ, who entered suffering and death? Do I really believe in Christ’s resurrection? Do I really rely on the power of the resurrection to serve the kingdom of the Lord? Do I truly look forward to Christ’s glorious return?”

>
“The preacher must prepare for the possibility that, one day, he may be arrested as a fraud. Those who manage the money should be prepared for the possibility of becoming accomplices. Normal believers should be prepared to be viewed as ‘victims.’

We should give up the illusion that brothers who are arrested and condemned are immature or imprudent. We should not doubt or judge our brothers, thinking they have really sinned, as their persecutors charge. We should understand that this is a trial from the Lord which has come to them – and also that this trial is his grace and glory to them.

The Church

Since the collection of tithes and the payment of salaries is considered fraud, we must ask: are we prepared, dear pastors, to one day be arrested as frauds ourselves? “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Since these charges of fraud are bound to come sooner or later, perhaps we should just go ahead and turn ourselves in.

Has your church made safety plans for a crisis? If you are taken away, will your church still have normal worship, discipleship, and evangelism? If you are arrested and charged, will the flock you shepherd be scattered because the shepherd has been struck?

Is your family prepared? If you are taken away, where can your wife get help to continue to lead your family to trust and serve the Lord? I have shared my thoughts on this elsewhere.

I would like to end with a quote from Pastor Wang Yi:

>
“One day, the number of those who trust in Jesus will be too many to count, because today’s Chinese house churches have willingly taken the way of the cross.

“I praise the Lord all the more. Today, he has rewarded the Chinese church with the office of prophet, priest and king in Christ. Together with all of society, the church has the opportunity to bear the crisis of the times and oppression from powers above. In this way Christ’s resurrection life may be unleashed throughout Chinese society. This will happen through the church’s being united with Christ even unto death.

“One day, the number of those who trust in Jesus will be too many to count, because today’s Chinese house churches have willingly taken the way of the cross.

“May glory be to the Triune God, and may God’s grace come to this dark and perverse Chinese society.”

Elder Li Yingqiang,

Early Rain Covenant Church, Chengdu


Elder Li Yingqiang is an elder of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu. He and his wife have two children.

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for churches and for pastors to be courageous and prepared to respond to accusations of fraud and wrongdoing in a way that honors Christ.

Share This Story

Further Reading

zhang-kaiyv-TS8tN_wA_Mo-unsplash
Busy Intellectuals: Interview with Shenyang Academics
Read More
marcos-rivas-XwoEqypRs-I-unsplash
Reformed Emotions: Affection Towards God
Read More
trung-thanh-rzJ4TEQZe4M-unsplash
Reformed Emotions: The Story Emotions Tell
Read More

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.

Videos

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.

Videos

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.

Videos

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.

Videos

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.

Videos

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.

Videos

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.

Videos

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.

Videos

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.

Videos

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. 

Videos

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.

Videos

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.

Videos

Stories from Shanghai

give

A short message about partnering with us.