The City of God on Earth, Part 5: The Church Is the Biggest City in the World

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Editor’s note: This series is created from a talk given by Wang Yi, a pastor and a leading voice in the house church in China. Wang Yi addressed a group of fellow pastors and church members, challenging them to view the gospel as the coming of the kingdom of God on earth, not just a means of individual salvation. This address was given at a 2014 conference in Hong Kong. Today is the last post in the series; read earlier portions here!

To some extent, people think only major cities matter, or that it is only worthwhile to live in major cities. This is the younger generation’s dream. To a certain extent they are right. But the gospel tells us the church is the biggest city in the world. The church is the real “Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.” The church is the capital of human souls. The gospel made a group of apostles from the backward province of Galilee into the center of the new world.

The gospel turns on its head the desire Christians feel toward major cities, but it also motivates the Christian commission toward the city. If you live in the gospel, wherever Christ’s church is being built is the capital of the world. You can bring the gospel to the biggest city—a metropolis of tens of millions—or to a small town with only fifty thousand souls, because the Christian’s dream for a greater city has already been fulfilled.

Through Psalm 46, I want to pray for those co-workers among us who serve their churches as part-time ministers. May God raise up more of his servants in this generation to be co-workers and gatekeepers at the entrances of the city gates. Through the gospel, these gatekeepers, these pastors, open the doors to the kingdom of heaven for our cities.

As for myself, Christmas Eve of 2010 was a special night for me to see again my commitment to the city of Chengdu. At 3 p.m. that afternoon, the police captured me in front of my co-workers and the members of my church. It was a busy evening; all the police were on duty in the streets. There was just one policeman and me in the police station. Around 8 p.m., a prostitute was brought into the office. She was captured in the process of a police room-check at a hotel. The police left her and went out again. At 10:30 p.m., a thief from Xinjiang was captured and brought into the room. It was a very peaceful night: a pastor from San-tai, Sichuan, a prostitute from Zigong, and a thief from Xinjiang all gathered together in the city. It was Christmas Eve in Chengdu.


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Our churches are becoming crowded with middle class professionals. The gospel needs to enter the city more deeply. It must enter the drains, enter in with the petitioners and the marginalized peoples. 

Dear fellow-workers, maybe you are a part-time minister in your church. Maybe in the past you pursued the Lord’s calling for full-time ministry. Perhaps at one time the city of God motivated your heart. If your church still has no pastors; if there are no pastors in your city, your community, or even your street; if your company has a GM but there is no pastor there; if the university you work for has a Party committee secretary but there is no pastor, then I must ask: do you know the average ratio of prostitutes to pastors in China? Do you know the ratio of thieves to pastors, of corrupt officials to pastors? 

May God bring you back to respond to his calling for you to serve in his house, where he is with his children forever, and to serve in the churches which represent the living and visible body of Jesus Christ. He is calling you to respond to him, to respond to the city of God, to build the city of God in your own city, to be a doorkeeper in his city. Let this become the biggest dream of your life, the calling that God has given you. But know this road will be very hard.

During the Reformation, every time Martin Luther received depressing news, he said, “Let’s sing Psalm 46.” I want to call you through this psalm. In the Lord’s name, I want to ask anyone among you who is willing to fight for God, with the grace of the gospel and the victory of the Lord, to preach his gospel and to build up co-workers and members in his church. If you once received or pursued this calling, but doubted and ran away from it or never dared to take the first step, I ask you to stand up and say, “I have heard God’s calling for me to offer my whole life to be a full-time minister in this era, in each city of China, in the major cities and in the small towns to which I am committed and to which the Lord will send me.” 

I want God himself to talk to you. Hold the church you serve and the church members you serve in your heart. Think even of brothers and sisters you do not yet know who are in a place where the Lord will send you. If you have heard this call, I ask you one more time: respond.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

– Psalm 46

Part One of this five-part series can be found by clicking HERE.

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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

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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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.

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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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