Twenty Years of China Partnership: A Prisoner for the Lord, In Prison Or Out

Editor’s note: The president of China Partnership (for security reasons he remains unnamed) recently shared some thoughts on how CP’s work has grown over the years, particularly in the past decade. He reflected on how he has seen God move, and on how, in this season, God is calling him and the Chinese house church movement to cling to the gospel and run to Christ.


This is a gospel movement, and church planting is the result of that.

A Heart-Filled Church Planting Movement Driven by the Gospel

In 2012, after several years of travel and training, the leadership of China Partnership had to decide what our direction was. We decided that, if this movement was to continue, the focus must be on Chinese churches. All our efforts must be to help them grow. We wanted the gospel to drive a heart-filled church planting movement which was the result of the good news.

Near the end of 2012, we gathered with several Chinese pastors to determine what partnership might look like moving forward. These pastors formed a common consensus of a gospel framework. They decided it was good to stay together and move forward. That same day, they elected members and formed a council with core values and vision. God created that, and this was an epiphany moment in my life. This was God’s work.

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“The focus must be on Chinese churches. All our efforts must be to help them grow. We wanted the gospel to drive a heart-filled church planting movement which was the result of the good news.

Sharing in the Sufferings of the Resurrected Lord

A tough time for us happened a few years ago when a pastor in the movement was arrested. In the last several years, it has become more common for Chinese pastors and Christians to face opposition. This includes experiences like being placed under house arrest, taken to police stations for questioning, or even being arrested for fourteen days or longer than one month. In light of this, pastors and believers are learning what it means to share in the sufferings of the resurrected Lord, an experience they share with the first apostles.


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As I have walked alongside pastors, the arrest of this pastor in particular struck me differently. Although we had all anticipated that he might be arrested, it was still shocking: one never fully knows if or when this will happen. My friend’s arrest was devastating to me; I couldn’t think for a day or two. When I returned home, I realized I had developed survivor’s guilt. I became very fragile and irritable. My wife, my brother whom I work with, and a counselor helped me out of that time. They helped me to clearly see my calling and to shift the weight of my calling onto Jesus, the Lord.

I realized that my friend had become a prisoner of the Lord in prison, but I am always a prisoner of the Lord: one who is, for the time being, out of prison. It is by God’s will that we are where we are, but we are all his bondservant.

We do not seek suffering to gain Christ; we seek to gain Christ, even though there is suffering. If we walk toward the cross, it is only because our Lord is there. We do not avoid the cross by shrinking away from our call. We always go toward our Lord and his calling. We follow Christ to the cross. No reserve; no retreat; no regrets.

The Gospel Points Us to a Person: Jesus, Our Friend

Why do we so stubbornly return again and again to the gospel? To be honest, I cannot think of another reason for us to do all that we do other than our Savior and dear friend, Jesus Christ. The gospel points us to a person: a saving, living, lifegiving being. He is the only reason. Other than him, there is no reason we would be willing to give up anything to do what we are doing today. We do this for this Savior and Lord who came, who died, who resurrected, and who ascended. Although that was in the past and we do not see him now, he is currently reigning in heaven. He is with us by the Spirit. On the day of Pentecost he came back to his church, and is still here leading us every day.

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“My friend had become a prisoner of the Lord in prison, but I am always a prisoner of the Lord: one who is, for the time being, out of prison. It is by God’s will that we are where we are, but we are all his bondservant. We do not seek suffering to gain Christ; we seek to gain Christ, even though there is suffering. If we walk toward the cross, it is only because our Lord is there.

With our human sinfulness, we tend to go astray from the gospel. It is so easy for us to default to articulating a different narrative of our own glory and to dethrone Christ. I know the temptation in our hearts; this is why I share again and again that we are here only for the Lord Jesus Christ. For him, we must again and again point ourselves and everyone around us to the center of the gospel, the dear friend and person of Jesus Christ.

To adore, to taste, to worship, and to serve this Christ is the lifegiving work of the Spirit. The gospel is the only message that is a life of communion with the living and lifegiving Lord. He is not only the center of our ministry, he is our dear friend who gives us life every day by the Spirit. That is the stubborn reason we always come back to the gospel.

This is a gospel movement, and church planting is the result of that.


CP’s president was born and raised in China and became a believer at a young age. After graduating from Beijing University, he came to the United States for post-graduate studies and worked in the technology industry for over a decade. He is an ordained minister in one of China’s first presbyteries, and received a Master of Arts in Religion at Westminster Theological Seminary outside of Philadelphia. He currently lives with his wife and children in New Jersey.

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Further Reading

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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

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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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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