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. We invite you to join us as we labor in love and prayer for the church in China.
This letter of encouragement was written after the author spent time with many Chinese believers in Jakarta, Indonesia, at a gathering of many believers from all over the Asia-Pacific region.
My brothers and sisters,
I write you with a full heart and every confidence in your faith because we know that for those of us who are kept by Jesus Christ, our labors are not in vain. In particular the news of your steadfastness, courage, and service for the gospel is going out all over the world.
Because you have hope and are very bold, you teach us in the West also to live boldly before God, not hiding our faith or fearful of what others may do to us. And when this “veil” of fear is removed, there is freedom, Paul teaches us, freedom that allows us to see the glory of God and be transformed by it. Therefore we do not lose heart!
It was my privilege to attend the conference in Indonesia with many from the indigenous gospel movement in China. I could see with my own eyes that this movement is thriving in the hands of young, energetic leaders—despite many hardships—and that you indeed do not lose heart.
Suffering is the shape of glory in this world. We suffer with you in the wilderness, but it is a glorious thing. Everything we experience in this wilderness comes to us as an inverted shadow of the heavenly kingdom.
“Suffering is the shape of glory in this world,” said one leader. “We suffer with you in the wilderness, but it is a glorious thing. Everything we experience in this wilderness comes to us as an inverted shadow of the heavenly kingdom.”
We all face suffering and loss of many kinds, but this teaching and your example help me to remember that we can testify to God’s love in the midst of our trials. We do not run or hide, and we do not think only of ourselves. We can live joyful, humble lives of service knowing Christ also suffered and gave up everything on our behalf.
My husband died earlier this year after a difficult battle with cancer. He wrote about the many kinds of courage God gives us:
Would You Pray With Us Today?
- courage to love
- courage to be different
- courage to do the right thing
- courage to be merciful (and to defend the defenseless)
- courage to wait
- courage to worship
- courage to rest (knowing God is the one who carries our burdens)
I see the ways that you embody these kinds of courage, and I encourage you today to rely on them more and more.
We all face suffering and loss of many kinds, but this teaching and your example help me to remember that we can testify to God’s love in the midst of our trials. We do not run or hide, and we do not think only of ourselves.
David Adeney had to leave China in 1950 after years of missionary service. It would be 28 years before he could return. But during that time when he lived in Hong Kong, he would go up to a high point near the China border and gaze across the high fence to the duck farms and towns he longed to visit. He had no news of what was happening to the church in China, but prayed fervently for it. He gradually learned it was growing by leaps.
Remember that we may be far apart from one another, and you may feel isolated, but the same Lord empowers us by the same Holy Spirit to carry out his work all over the world. This is our hope, together.
Mindy Belz is a writer and former senior editor at World Magazine. She is the author of They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
Pray for Chinese Christians to experience the courage God gives in the midst of difficulty.