How I Prayed: Hold Fast to Repentance

Repentance and Return

Repent: “to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better.” In the Bible, the Hebrew word translated as “to repent” comes from the verb “to return,” and connotates turning back to something you’ve left. In the New Testament, the Greek word for repentance does not just mean to be sorry for something, but describes a change in thought. Again and again, God calls his people to repent: of their sins, their idolatries, and even good things that draw their hearts from him.

God asks us to repent and return because he loves us, and because he wants us to experience true life. If we do not turn away from our sins and back to the him, then we are doomed to experience a pale and perverted version of life. When we hold onto other idols, we are walking through a life that is no true life at all, but a poor imitation of the vivid vitality God desires for us.

“It seems Chinese churches are continually calling their people to repent; not just of private and individual sins, but of the corporate sins of society.”

This July, we have been praying for the church in China to hold fast to repentance. Repentance is a hard topic for us in the Western church, but as I read and edit Chinese Christians, I have often noticed how regularly they talk about the role of repentance. It seems Chinese churches are continually calling their people to repent; not just of private and individual sins, but of the corporate sins of society.

I have often been struck that Chinese Christians don’t shy away from saying that they, as believers in Jesus, have a responsibility for sins of their nation. Off the top of my head, I remember reading calls to repent of the way society treats women (with the specific example of the Xuzhou woman in chains), the way Chinese society kills the unborn through abortion, China’s oppression of Uyghurs, and even calls to repent because their nation openly persecutes the house church! Now, obviously, Chinese Christians are not persecuting themselves – but it seems they are saying their society is sick, and they, on behalf of their community, are turning back to Christ.

A few years ago, Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu shared this prayer:

“Righteous Father, we repent to you for the Chinese house churches’ inward focus in the midst of persecution…Not only are we to live according to your holy law, but we are also to ‘do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.’ Lord, we need to repent before you. In many things we have not witnessed your righteousness and have fallen short of your mercy: we have not prayed for the people of Hong Kong, we have not prayed for the people of Xinjiang, we have not even prayed for our brothers and sisters in bondage…. Lord, may Your holy and good Spirit rebuke us, and Your gracious Spirit uphold us.”

A prayer I read from a Chinese house church last year specifically prayed for “general repentance” for the American church, and then went on to pray for Americans not to look to political victory for assurance, but to depend on Christ alone and the power of the Holy Spirit. To me, this is an area where the maturity of the Chinese church has much to bless and teach Western Christians.

“I’m praying they will stay the course. I pray they will realize that “in repentance and rest you shall be saved.” I pray they will not think the difficulties they face give them merit; that they will not be prideful in what they see the Lord do among them; that they will not lose hope when circumstances appear insurmountable.”

Return Again

Praying for repentance is interesting for me, as an American. I have always heard a lot about repenting of my own sins, and of course that is extremely important. It’s much harder to think about corporate repentance; honestly, I’m often murky on what that looks like. But I think the prayers I read from China are a good place to start.

So, how have I prayed for Chinese believers to hold fast to repentance? I’m praying they will stay the course. I pray they will realize that “in repentance and rest you shall be saved.” I pray they will not think the difficulties they face give them merit; that they will not be prideful in what they see the Lord do among them; that they will not lose hope when circumstances appear insurmountable. I’m praying their hearts will be soft, and they will return, again and again and again, to Jesus, the author of salvation.


E.F. Gregory is a mom of three. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley on the border of East Los Angeles, where her husband is a P.C.A. church planter. 


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FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for Chinese Christians to continue repenting and returning to Jesus.

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Further Reading

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The Internal Cross: A Pastoral Letter
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The External Cross: A Pastoral Letter
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Qingdao: How to Pray
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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