How The Gospel Has Changed China
There is a paradox that God desires to happen within the church. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it, “The Church is only the Church when it exists for others.” When any given local church begins to think about the next planned barbeque, or which Christmas decorations they are going to put up more than the daily plight of fellow believers around the world, the church has lost its purpose and focus. What happens whenever a local church properly exists for others, however, is that they feel the incredible sense of being “One With Them.” They then do not feel as those they are serving “others,” but rather they view the entire Body as one; including themselves in with the persecuted. This is the glorious paradox we see modeled for us throughout Scripture. Can we challenge ourselves to be “One With Them” more, in all that we do? We understand that this brings God all the glory. When we read stories of the persecuted, pray with us that God grants us with the understanding that we are in fact reading a story about our own family not somebody else’s, but ours. The church in China has seen a boom over the past few decades. Before the church infiltrated China with the gospel, it was one of the most unreceptive places to the gospel on earth. Now, thanks to the faithfulness and boldness of God’s church existing for others, we are witnessing so much hope throughout the country. A few Open Doors staff members are on the ground in China, and wanted to share these reports with you about how God is moving among the people: Day 2: We visited a house church today. Over 800 Christians enjoyed the worship and preaching on Genesis 12. Young people were active in leading worship, prayer and were sharing their testimonies and preaching the Word. One student traveled an hour to be a part of the service. He brought others, as well, hoping that they would hear about Jesus and His work on the cross. A lady from northeast China came, also, with some questions about healing. A pastor from a Muslim area encouraged us by sharing that thousands of ex-Muslims are now following Jesus all over China. They meet in small groups, but have no churches. He trains these believers to evangelize with care. One man who accepted the gospel to be true then shared it with 10 families that ended up following Christ, also, because of his testimony. The Lord indeed is building His Church among Han Chinese and minorities! Day 3: Today, we hope to learn about the recent political changes in the country, and what this means for the church. As long as house churches keep a low profile, with not too many members and no foreign contacts, they have room to function. Also, they are no longer considered a cult since the government better understands who they are. During some interviews, it was reported that pastors and police even become friends. A Christian mentioned that his church started with seven members in 1999, and now has over 1,000 members. Now they worry where to meet because rent can be so expensive. An Open Doors contact told us during lunch that in past years, she distributed over 200,000 Bibles and books all over China. She shared how God has blessed her through it. Her contacts still ask for free literature because they don’t know those same books are now available in local shops for low prices. Among all her activities, she also supports two Bible seminaries and a ministry towards North Korean refugees. Today we saw proof of great dedication towards the church and those in need. While the country of China has come a long way in its persecution of Christians compared to past decades, it still ranks No. 37 on our World Watch List. Would you keep China and those being faithful to Him there in your prayers? We also pray that you would desire to “exist for others” more, and seek God’s honor in all things above our own. Amen!