What I Learned: My Kingdom Is Not of this Earth

Editor’s note: At the end of each month, the editorial team shares a brief wrap-up of how that month’s content encouraged and challenged us. This month, SOLA editor Hannah Chao writes about her interactions this month with the Chinese church on our blog.


Every night before my children go to bed, our family reads from The Jesus Storybook Bible. This beautifully written book retells the stories of the Bible in ways that point us not to Biblical “heroes” but to Christ himself. One of my children’s favorite chapters is the one on Daniel in the lion’s den. They are shocked that prayer could get someone thrown into a pit of lions, and yet my children understand that it was this strange habit that made Daniel stand out to the king’s jealous advisors.

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“When we feel persecuted by a government policy, we attend board meetings or attempt to vote through new changes. But I wonder if we put too much stock in political solutions because we haven’t been using the greatest weapon of all—prayer.

The Same Prayer

This same story is retold by Simon Liu in “Prayer is War: Dangerous Mission.” While my children are eager to get to the conclusion of the story, Liu focuses on the action that the government now labeled as subversive: prayer. Pointing out that Daniel went back to prayer after hearing the king’s decree, Liu reminds us that “in the face of persecution, you must continue to act as you have always done.” It made me wonder how I would act if I suddenly came under persecution.

Do I have spiritual disciplines that I would return to, even if I knew I could be punished for it? I have to admit that oftentimes prayer can be a simple checkbox off a mourning routine. Worse, prayer can be a Hail Mary attempt. 

But Liu writes, “Prayer should never be the last option for a Christian. Prayer is the first choice. Prayer is war, initiated by those who worship and fear God. It is an offensive move, not the last option at the end of the road.”


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I wonder too if prayer is the last option for the American church. When we feel persecuted by a government policy, we attend board meetings or attempt to vote through new changes. But I wonder if we put too much stock in political solutions because we haven’t been using the greatest weapon of all—prayer. Instead of returning again to our knees, we seek ways to react.

Perhaps we must begin to practice prayer as Daniel did and continually return to it as a way to suffer through and overcome our troubles. Through prayer, Daniel was prepared to face the consequences of his actions. We too know that troubles will come because of our faith. But with prayer, we can be ready to be thrown into the lion’s den.

No Easy Fixes

While Daniel’s story has a quick and happy ending, not all of our stories will have such neat resolutions. In “Another Winter Turns to Spring,” Elder Li Yingquiang reflected on the arrest and detention of two of his fellow Christian brothers in China. Li himself had already been arrested and jailed for about eight months during the December 2018 crackdown on Early Rain Covenant Church. 

As he tried to rebuild his life, his friends had come alongside him to help him and his family. But both were arrested, with one now imprisoned for four months, and another for more than a year.

And yet, in his essay, Li writes, “I am thankful for Chunlei and Hao Ming, and I know they are more blessed than me today as they sit in the presence of God himself.” While he is still saddened that they are separated, he is reminded that God is with them and that they are giving glory to God through their suffering. It is a powerful picture. 

So often we want a quick end to our suffering, and it is also true that God ultimately does not want us to suffer. But by preaching a gospel that has easy fixes, we sell short the full beauty of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. We do not linger on the weight of Christ’s suffering on the cross nor on the devastating circumstances of sin. Li’s story of his brothers reminds us to not push aside our pain and grief but to hold onto it. Ultimately, God will be glorified in all the sufferings and joys of his children.

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“So often we want a quick end to our suffering, and it is also true that God ultimately does not want us to suffer. But by preaching a gospel that has easy fixes, we sell short the full beauty of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

Still Learning

I am constantly blessed by the work of my brothers and sisters in China. They remind me of the beauty of the gospel in ways that I simply cannot see in my Western context. They exhort me to think about the Word of God day and night, no matter where I am—whether China, Ukraine, or Los Angeles. They remind me that my kingdom is not on this earth, but in heaven! I do not have to buy into the ideas of American capitalism or productivity when I am part of Christ’s kingdom. Instead, I can find rest in knowing that I am loved by the God of this universe, no matter what the circumstances around me. 

I am so thankful for the words and witnesses of my brothers and sisters in China. I am eager to learn more from them. 


Hannah Chao is the editor of SOLA, where she also often writes. She has been editing for SOLA’s website since its inception in 2016. Hannah is a member of All Nations Community Church, and a wife and mom of two beautiful girls.

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Stories from Shanghai

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