Want Righteousness and Justice in the City? Start with the Church

charl-folscher-iZ2v4FwtMLc-unsplash (1).jpg

Editor’s note: At this year’s CP conference, we were honored to host a number of Mainland Chinese pastors who spoke on God’s work in their country. The following was taken from one pastor’s testimony of the ways God has changed his heart and his congregation’s attitude towards the community and the government. If you did not have the opportunity to attend the conference, check out our attendee interviews and testimonies from other speakers.

First, I would just like to thank China Partnership and the people in the West for your love for China and the Chinese church. I always think of China as a nation of debt – we always owe something. Since 1807 when the gospel and missionaries came to China, throughout these two hundred some years, China has always been a receiver of the gospel and grace. In my years of serving the Lord, I have had the chance to commune with and get to know pastors from the West.

I am a pastor from the Presbyterian system of churches. From a certain perspective, I can say that my church represents some of the major characteristics of the church in China in general. The church in China since the 19th century has been greatly effected by pietism. Therefore pastors in China and Christians in China are very legalistic when they consider their Christians lives. So our sermons are mostly moralistic sermons. The church always asks, what have you done for God? What have you suffered for God? How do you serve God? We are self-righteous in this way.

Because of this theological way of thinking, our service to the Lord is focused on ministries. In the past the church has been very introverted and we have only focused on ourselves. We haven’t really cared about what happens outside of our church. Our church was started in 1992, so in 2012 it was about twenty years [old]. During those twenty years, God has blessed us and we grew very fast.

But in 2012 we faced a major hurdle. During that time we got to know [China Partnership] and for the first time we heard [their teaching about the gospel]. It was really at that time that we realized, oh, so this is grace. In the past we weren’t really bringing Christians to Christ, we were only bringing people to a sense of morality. We realized that in the past, what really satisfied us was that we were so busy in the ministry; we weren’t really finding grace in the gospel.

Of course, the deepest impact on my mind was when I heard Tim Keller sharing on the scripture of the Prodigal Son. I and all of my coworkers realized, my goodness, we are the elder son! We are so self righteous! We were suffering in our self-justification and we realized we had totally misunderstood the gospel.


Would You Pray With Us Today?

Sign up to receive our weekly prayer emails with requests for the house church in China

Then the more we got to know the gospel, we started to enjoy the rest that it brought to us. We realized the gospel itself is enough to give us a true Sabbath rest. In the past, our sense of rest was based on how much we worked, how busy we were, always needing to do more ministry. But we don’t need that! The gospel itself is enough. The ministries are really just a vessel. So with this new understanding of grace and the gospel, we planted a new church. It was planted in 2015 and we started with fifty members. In two years it grew to one hundred and seventy.

In the past, because of the political atmosphere and traditional thinking, our relationship with the government was very tense. In our hearts, we rejected the government. For example, this time I especially brought my daughter with me so I could specifically tell the government, “See I’m only bringing my daughter as a tourist to the US.” But of course, the government probably doesn’t believe that anyway. They say, when you come back we want you to write us a report – a report on how you toured the US and where you went to play.

In my twenty years of ministry, I have been arrested many times. I used to have an extreme hatred towards the government. I cannot forgive them. I was actually very proud of the fact that I had been arrested many times and that I had been incarcerated many times. But [the training I received] has challenged me to also see them as the target of gospel evangelism. The church can be a blessing to the city. If a city is to have righteousness, if a city is to have justice, it must start with the church.

Now every time I have to deal with the government, I want to show the aspects of grace to them. So with this mindset, I’m totally changed and totally challenged and totally transformed in my view of them. Now we plant churches in communities, in the housing communities. And when we plant a church there, we seek out the organizers of these communities. [The leaders of these] housing communities are actually government bureaucrats and I tell them right away, “I’m here to serve you.” I ask them, “If you need any help with anything, I’ll do it for you.”

Of course, at first, they don’t believe me. So we start to let our actions do the talking. We visit the elderly that nobody cares about; we visit them and take care of them. In snowstorms, you know the community roads are very messy. So we will mobilize the Christians, us, to clean up the streets because nobody else is doing it. And then we will just actively start community service, community activities free of charge for anyone who wants to participate.

We do this for many years and then these bureaucrats within these housing communities come and look for us. They say, “We’ll make your job easier – here is a list of people we think you should go help.” They even give us a flag of recognition. We put this flag on the wall, so when we are investigated by the higher ups in the bureaucracy, I will show them the flag and say, “See this is from your government.” Even the media reporters are coming to us and want to write a story about us. But the reporter said, “Well, I can’t really call you a church. I can only call you a community organizer with a very loving heart.” But whatever – I think the name of Christ has spread!

In the past, usually the brothers and sisters in the church, we all hate the government because we don’t really care about what is going on around us. But last month we had a members meeting, and during that meeting one third of the members had a proposal saying that we are not doing enough, that we could do more for the community. We realized the gospel has changed us. We truly see that it is solely by the grace of Christ. We are motivated by the grace our Lord Jesus Christ [demonstrated] to save our lives, and the grace of the gospel helps us to love those who used to be our enemies.

So hopefully China will no longer be a country that always owes something to someone else. We can start to proclaim the priceless grace of the cross to the people around us. May the glory be to our Lord. Thank you.

Share This Story

Further Reading

hangjia-xu-3ZdSvOSlm4c-unsplash
The External Cross: A Pastoral Letter
Read More
billow926-ND4-6joi3t8-unsplash
Qingdao: How to Pray
Read More
cajeo-zhang--Qkr9oCfcZo-unsplash
Qingdao: Locals and Outsiders
Read More

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

Videos

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.

Videos

Stories from Shenyang

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.

Videos

Stories from Qingdao

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.

Videos

Stories from Xiamen

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.

Videos

Stories from Chongqing

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.

Videos

Stories from Nanjing

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.

Videos

Stories from Changchun

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.

Videos

Stories from Guangzhou

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.

Videos

Stories from Kunming

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.

Videos

Stories from Shenzhen

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. 

Videos

Stories from Chengdu

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.

Videos

Stories from Beijing

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.

Videos

Stories from Shanghai

give

A short message about partnering with us.