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.
To the people of God in the land of China –
What an honor to write you now, in the midst of these days of trouble and promise. It often feels that much is set against the coming of the Kingdom, but there persists a thread of hope that is always woven through the darkest of days. We must not forget that though Jesus’ Kingdom is opposed, she is not overcome. We must not forget that the Lion is on the throne, and as C.S. Lewis reminded us, “He is no tame lion.”
We must not forget that though Jesus’ Kingdom is opposed, she is not overcome.
Jesus is coming after the darkness.
All across the world, there are signals of the coming Kingdom. A revival is breaking out in Iran that rivals what was witnessed in the early days of the church. More Muslim people have come to faith in the last twenty years than in the 1,400 previous years of Islam combined. In the past century, the gospel has radically moved across the continent of Africa which is now home to more than 681 million Christians. And, as many of you dear brothers and sisters know so well, no place in the world over the past 40 years has experienced more significant growth than the church in China.
Even in the West, which continues to witness a post-Christian movement, there are signs of new life. There is a longing for more than the consumeristic faith that could not satisfy our souls. Our people are hungry for the things of God. There is a prayer revival stirring. And while many churches are dying here, we remain steadfast, because death has always been the pathway for the Kingdom of God to take new form. A new movement is coming.
Make no mistake, my brothers and sisters, life will win.
Until then, remember:
You are not forgotten.
Your family around the world is contending for you in the secret places and our inspired intercession flows out of God’s heart for you and from our deep respect for your faith. We know you have suffered much and that these statistics don’t take away pain. We know that your losses and limits are real and that you long for the day when all things will be made new. We join you in that longing and we stand with you as you walk your path with courage and conviction. Jesus, please help your church to remember that we are not alone!
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Your family around the world is contending for you in the secret places and our inspired intercession flows out of God’s heart for you and from our deep respect for your faith.
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You are not powerless.
The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in you. One of the greatest weapons at your disposal is the power of forgiveness. When you are struck, the world expects you to strike back. But the world has no idea what to do with people who forgive when they have every right to fight. Forgiveness is so powerful because it robs evil of its strength and vigor. It disarms the falsely powerful of this present age and re-seats authority with those who have taken on the ways of Christ. Forgiveness is gentle but it is fierce. The deep power that allowed Jesus to say on the cross, “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they’re doing,” is the same power that is present in every disciple of Jesus in this world. Jesus, give your church the strength to forgive and to rise up with Holy Spirit power!
One of the greatest weapons at your disposal is the power of forgiveness. When you are struck, the world expects you to strike back. But the world has no idea what to do with people who forgive when they have every right to fight.
And friends, be assured of this –
There is a day coming when there will be no more persecution.
There is a day coming when there will be no more prisons, or corrupt systems that put people there.
There is a day coming when you will worship the Father in full voice standing shoulder to shoulder with the people of God from around the world.
There is a day coming when your families will be reunited, your homes will be safe, and Jesus will be recognized as King.
Dear friends, there is a day coming.
Until that day, “may God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (1 Thess. 5:23-24)
Chris Shelby is pastor for Kingdom Expansion at The Hills church in Fort Worth, Texas.
Pray that, because of the hope of the coming kingdom, Chinese Christians will hold fast to forgiveness.