We Know What We Fight For, Part 2: I Am So Grateful For This Moment

China-Partnership-We-Know-What-We-Fight-For-Part-2

Editor’s note: Wang Jianguo is the collective pseudonym for a group of Chinese house church pastors thinking about writing about issues related to the spread of Christianity in their nation. They are committed to preaching a grace-centered gospel, developing resources for the church, and loving China’s urban centers.

This two-part series focuses on the current state of the Chinese church, a situation that is very much in flux with recent tightening of regulations and increased pressure on believers and churches across the nation. Begin by reading part one here. 

If you look at articles in the New York Times or Time Magazine, mainline media will point out trends across China. Sometimes, we are easily influenced to make our decisions according to these trends. But Christian faith and ministry does not make decisions by the trends. We depend on the daily grace of God. We take every single opportunity to serve: this is one thing I have learned in the past years as I have served in China. 

People from the United States have asked me each year if that year was more difficult. Perhaps it was because it was the fiftieth anniversary of the Party’s founding, or the year of the Beijing Olympics. I have learned from trends to avoid [certain unnecessary] things, but we must not make our decisions based on the trends. Yesterday, I heard brothers talk and plan for the future. They used this term: “We must continue to press on.” I love that.

I am so grateful for this moment, because in past years, a lot of churches in China, even Reformed churches, have been influenced by the prosperity gospel. I have to confess, sometimes even I was influenced by it. In past years, as we have gone places, we liked to share: “Now, in the Chinese church, we have this or that, we have achieved this.” We had a theology of glory. The Lord has given us this opportunity so we may go back to the gospel and become theologians of the cross, truly living out a cross-shaped life.


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I confess that, even though we say we respect our forefathers in the house church, we have not truly respected them from our hearts. We thought they were good, that they fought the fight, but they did not have sound doctrine or biblical training. I think now we will get the full spirit of the Reformation: the Puritan spirit together with the heritage of the house church. The house church took scripture very seriously, memorizing it, emphasizing bearing the cross with the Lord, emphasizing serious disciplines like prayer, fasting, and self-denial. All these things need to come together with the Reformed tradition and the broader evangelical tradition.

As we consider how to respond [to increased pressure], we should promote unity in the gospel. In past years, we are so grateful that churches from different backgrounds have come together for the gospel and brought forth gospel renewal. That is good, and we still need to develop this. For example, I signed the joint statement. But, in some areas of China, if a pastor did not sign, the congregation will give him pressure. I did sign, but this does not show that I am more spiritual than another pastor. He did this out of his own conscience and according to the Lord’s leading in his life. We should respect that. How can we develop gospel unity? That will be very crucial in years to come.

We pray the gospel movement, church planting, and powerful evangelism can continue. Sometimes, people ask me if I hate the government. Some years, I have been angry with them. But over the past years, I have realized that we know what we fight for. They do not know what they live for.

Some years ago during the first time I enjoyed the company of my [government] “bodyguards” seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, my wife and I went to the movie theater. My bodyguards went with me. When I went to the restroom, they followed me. I was angry. But it was a wonderful movie, and the two bodyguards fell asleep. That’s the first time I realized how blessed I am as a Christian and as a minister. I know what I live for; they don’t. Living for something ridiculous is a difficult thing to bear in this world.

As we look at China, we see it is struggling with its identity. Some years ago, I asked middle school students in the United States to pick one animal to represent China. Some people said panda, some said dragon. In the 80s, one of the most famous songs in China was Descendants of the Dragon. Later, we figured out we were not welcome as descendants of dragons. Dragons are powerful, but nobody wants to get close to dragons. Then, the Chinese government started to sell the image of the panda to the international community. They sent pandas to America, to Seoul, to Japan, and to Taiwan as gifts. The panda represents being welcomed, accepted, embraced, adorable. They wanted to send the message we are friendly, but they still want to show we are powerful.

How can a powerful China be not a disaster to the world, but a blessing to the world? Only the gospel can do this. Our Lord is all-powerful. He is called the Lion of Judah, yet he has a big and tender heart and is called the Lamb of God. He surrendered himself for sinners, to serve. Only the gospel can change the heart of a nation, making the powerful become a servant to serve the world. China wants to be powerful and to demonstrate her power, but at the same time, she wants to be welcomed by the international community. The next ten to twenty years will be very crucial for Christianity in China, and will even shape the map of Christianity for the whole world. 

I am grateful that, over the past years, many partners and churches have prayed for and supported China. I ask you to continue to walk with China, and to continue to pray for your brothers and sisters there. Sometimes, I am very scared. If you face a dragon, you should be scared. In the 1950s and 60s of the last century, as the Communist Party seriously persecuted Christians, nine out of every ten ministers surrendered. Most of the stories you read of those who stood firm in the faith were laypeople. Because of this, many Chinese brothers and sisters — especially the older ones — don’t like ordained ministers. They consider that type of thing to be nonsense, because it was the laymen who had a great testimony for our Lord. Thinking of this, I tremble. I know I need to depend on his grace every single day. Please, remember your weakest brother, and remember the church of China.

Interested in learning more about how you can stand with the church in China? Sign up to receive our weekly prayer updates and monthly newsletters so that you can continue praying for and learning from our brothers and sisters in China.

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Further Reading

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The External Cross: A Pastoral Letter
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Qingdao: Locals and Outsiders
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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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