Editor’s note: This year, China Partnership is praying for the church in China to hold fast. In the fall of 2022, we spoke with Chinese house church leaders and asked them how the global church can pray for and support them in 2023. They specifically asked that we pray that they would hold fast to Christ and to his promises in the midst of pressure, persecution, and uncertainty.
They also asked for encouragement. In 2023, we will be periodically publishing letters of encouragement to the church in China from the global church. We hope these letters will remind Chinese Christians that they are not alone or forgotten, but that around the world, their brothers and sisters in Christ care and pray for them regularly. We invite you to join us as we labor in love and prayer for the church in China.
“There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Dear brothers and sisters in China,
God Is Good
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, our loving Savior. Is it not unfathomable that Jesus calls us beloved? We, who cannot even fathom his perfect sinlessness, as we rationalize our idols and continually plan to put them down tomorrow. He created you in his image, and loves you. So, too, I pray for you, as individuals with goals and fears, and as a church, bound together by Jesus’s love and sacrifice – which enables us to do amazing things for each other in his name.
There have been great highs and lows in my life in just the last two months. A younger me would have danced in the happy times, and grumbled hard at the unfairness of the hard things. I did not grow up in the church, and was late to learn that God is sovereign over all things. So, while my emotional self still remembers the pre-Jesus responses, I must repeat for myself the fact that God’s nature is good, so he only allows things in my life that he can use for my good and his glory.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
In April, I had a wonderful opportunity to travel with my son and his wife, who live four days drive away from my home. My son and his new wife are people who speak other languages and love to explore other cultures. We had a glorious time together living for a few days on a German dairy farm, traveling by train along an Alpine ridgetop in Switzerland, and strolling up and down the steep hills in the Italian lake district, where one is greeted around every corner with a view fit for a postcard. We reveled in being together, sharing food, marveling at the amazing places God had made, and the blessing of family.
Pouring Himself Into Our Brokenness
And then, a week after my return, my elderly mother developed a serious back problem. Within a few days it became evident that she would probably not recover, and that my brothers and children should travel to see her once more, whisper “I love you’s,” and say goodbye. Although she is 87 years old and had been losing her memory, I still find myself incredulous that she will soon die. I have wept about the difficult things she has endured in her life. I have prayed that the Lord would stand so close to her that, if she remembers nothing else, she would know God and his adoration of her, and so not be afraid.
I know that God is leading us all through this experience, because he is changing both of us, preparing her for life at his side, where she will be healed of the scars this life left on her. He is also changing me, fanning my compassion for my mother’s devotion and shortcomings, and allowing the helplessness that makes me cry out to him. Only he can make all things new by pouring himself into our brokenness.
“Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:3-4)
I want to encourage you that many in the American church are praying for you. Yes, we are praying your safety and peace. But above all, we are praying his steadfastness would enable you to praise him in all circumstances, knowing that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Ps. 46:1)
Would You Pray With Us Today?
Beth Kendall lives in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area and is active at New City Presbyterian Church.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray that God’s steadfast strength will enable Chinese Christians to praise him in all circumstances.