Miracles in China: ‘All I could do is pray’

February 4, 2020 by Lindy Lowry in Asia

When [the jailer] received these orders, he put [Paul and Silas] in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose (Acts 16: 24-26).

 

Pastor Timothy* is a Chinese man in his 70s. He has a kind, sun-tanned and slightly wrinkled face that hints at his years of itinerant ministry.

 

His story sounds like something lifted from the book of Acts.

He’s not alone in China. Christians there not only believe biblical accounts—like the one of Paul and Silas’ miraculous release from prison—to be true, they believe the stories are relevant for today. So, believers like Pastor Timothy apply the principles of Acts when they are persecuted.

“I was called to the police station for a ‘chat,’” he says. “But they locked me up and threatened me and interrogated me. When they locked me up, I just knelt in the cell and prayed. They told me I was not allowed to pray, so I told them I was a church leader and a Christian for many years, so all I could do is pray.

“During all their questioning and threats, I was never afraid. God gave me inner peace and confidence in Him. In the end they were intimidated by my confidence and joy and let me go.”

This was not Pastor Timothy’s first experience of persecution. He lived through Mao’s decade-long Cultural Revolution, and he remembers the fear and intimidation Christians felt from the government in those days. He remembers the slogans about “class struggle”—and the violence, persecution, imprisonment and even execution of Christians. While the present persecution faced by Chinese believers is not like it was in the 1960s and 70s, he believes lessons learned back then resonate now too—especially the power of prayer.

Watch what’s happening in and through the church in China today.

‘Everyone knows the power of prayer’

“From our youngest children through to our old brothers and sisters, everyone knows the power of prayer,” Pastor Timothy explains. “It doesn’t matter what we are facing, or what we have been accused of: We all pray. Everyone knows that as soon as persecution comes, we first drop to the ground and pray. God is so faithful. He always answers us, sometimes in the most wonderful, even bizarre ways!”

He shares an example. “Over the last 12 months, we have experienced constant harassment by the police,” he says. “They regularly interrupt our meetings to disrupt our fellowship and destroy our underground churches.

“They must get very frustrated, though, because we just love them back. We are all trained to be polite, and never fight back, even when they get physical. In 2018, they started pulling crosses off our churches. Each time they came we just knelt in front of them as a group and prayed for them and asked for God’s protection.”

When Pastor Timothy tells the stories of prayer in China, it sounds like something you might read in the pages of Acts, or in biblical accounts of miraculous actions of God. But these stories are happening in modern-day China. “On one occasion, they were on their way to pull down a cross, so we started to pray,” Pastor Timothy says. He laughs as he recalls the stories. “Suddenly, in a nearby city there was a huge explosion, so they had to go there instead. On another occasion they sent a big crane to pull one of our crosses down. On the way their crane broke down twice, and this had never happened before. They thought that was very strange!”

Pastor Timothy encourages the young members of his congregation to pray for their persecutors. “Our young people know that this is not the fault of the police, they just need to know Jesus,” he says. “If we don’t pray for their salvation, who will?”

Will you love the people of God?

Open Doors has partnered with Pastor Timothy for many years. We have provided Bibles and Bible training, Sunday School teacher training, and youth camps for house churches in his network. Your generous gift helps to encourage, equip, and empower your oppressed and persecuted Christian family, leaders like Pastor Timothy, in places like China and around the world where their faith is under threat.

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‘Prayer changes things!’

Pastor Timothy sees the rising persecution his church has faced in recent months as a sign that they are doing something right. “Something really wonderful is happening,” he says. “I think the government is actually ‘scared’ of our church because of our determination, our love and our unity.

“We just will not compromise on God’s word about anything, but we are also model citizens! We love Jesus, but we also love our country and abide by the law. The government knows that the community respects us so much they listen to us instead of the government. A few years ago, we started out with a handful of believers, now we are a few thousand. They really are worried!”

Open Doors has partnered with Pastor Timothy for many years. We have provided Bibles and Bible training, Sunday School teacher training, and youth camps for house churches in his network, and we stood with the leaders on many occasions when they were under pressure.

“Open Doors has been an amazing friend to us,” he says. “I can’t thank you enough for the years of help you have given us, especially when things were difficult. Much of our church growth is due to Open Doors’ input and training of our house church leaders. Everything you teach us, we replicate in churches across the region. Our leaders have a maturity and understanding of God’s Word that we never had before. I thank God for you all.”

He asks for our continued prayers for protection, and that Chinese Christians would stand strong even if the Chinese church is totally isolated from the outside like it was 50 years ago. He especially asks for prayer for the young Christians in his church, that they would hold fast to their faith and like so many before them, experience the hope, joy and closeness of God in times of trial.

“Above all, pray that our people never stop praying, and experience the power of prayer,” he says. “Prayer changes things!”

*Representative names and photos used for security reasons

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