In December 2018, the year social networks exploded with news and prayer requests on the Church of the Covenant Early Rain in Chengdu, Central province, people’s Republic of China. Pastor Wang Yi was arrested along with his wife, elders, deacons and a dozen members, reports Ieshua.org. Many members and leaders of the Church went missing after large-scale actions of the police and other authorities, who rounded up Christians and detained them for several days. On the eve of his alleged arrest pastor Yi wrote a strong message to their parishioners.
1.Obedience to the gospel can sometimes mean civil disobedience
Power does not depend on the change of government. While someone may be willing to have Christians held political office, which would make China a Christian nation, the Chinese Christians to adopt a Declaration on the right of disobedience: “Changing social and political institutions — it is not the mission for which I was called, and it is not the purpose for which God gave His people the gospel.” With the main aim of the dual citizenship (one on earth, second in heaven), we often find ourselves in a tense situation between Hail Hail God and Human, each of which admires our good deeds haunt us for uncompromising faith. We should not believe in the “Christian” government, waiting for the relief of our suffering. Sometimes, citizens of Heaven requires disobedience to his earthly government and law that are contrary to Scripture.
2. Know that trouble will come
Imagine preparing for a Sunday service in the Church of the Early Rain, when the pastor, leaders and their families were arrested and accused of committing various crimes. In the Church was searched and the building was closed, door was locked and boarded up. They worshipped God on the street, because the Church building was closed; as reported, many of the audience were soon arrested. Our brothers and sisters have accepted the reality of suffering. As the Lord warned His disciples: “the world will suffer…” (Jn. 16:33; Adv. TRANS.). From the first days of the Christian Church “suffering” are part of its history. As recorded in the book of Acts and other historical records, the Church often grew in the presence of suffering and persecution, not in their absence.
3. Understand that the true meaning of persecution
The threat of loss of tax benefits non-profit religious organizations is forcing some Christians in North America do not sleep at night. But I wouldn’t call it persecution. Perhaps it would be right to be angry at the hostility with which the Christians face in secular North American society, but this anger is categorically different from those of the persecution faced by our Chinese brothers and sisters and some other Christians in most countries of the world.
4. Be ready always to give an answer
When coming persecution we must be ready to give an account of our hope (1 Pet. 3:15). When members of the Church of the Early Rain was interrogated and accused of inciting Subversion against the state, they were asked about their ideological positions. I heard one Christian during the interrogation, answered the words of the Heidelberg Catechism: “What is your only comfort in life and death? Answer: that I do not own, but belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.” Dear Christian, even if we never get to the interrogation to the police, let us be always ready to bear a powerful testimony of the truth of the gospel.
5. Keep a grateful heart
Suffering Church in China are not alone, worldwide there are persecuted Christians from whom we can learn. Last summer I visited the Church of Korean immigrants in Houston and heard the prayers of the 90-year-old pastor. He prayed a prayer of thanks in Korean language for God’s faithfulness, beginning with the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1930s and 1940s. And then he thanked the Lord for the opportunity to worship Him during the civil war in Korea in the 1950s. He thanked God for His faithfulness in the midst of immigration stress, arising from the ignorance of the English language and American culture, and the opportunity, however, to freely worship the Lord. By the end of the prayer, I cried. I was thinking about how if I know the same God that knows this brother. This grateful heart is something we all can learn and benefit from it.
The Church of Jesus Christ continues to suffer in such places as China, North Korea, and in many other countries. We have much to learn from these brothers and sisters who maintain their faith in the face of persecution. Let us continue to pray for them and learn from them. Let’s remember about the price of following Jesus and continue to follow Him no matter what.