Last week, Open Doors reported that one of China’s largest house churches had been raided by police resulting in arrests of more than 100 Christians, including church leader Wang Yi, one of China’s most well-known pastors.
Pastor Wang Yi has been charged with “inciting subversion of state power”–a “crime” that could result in a sentence of up to five years, but up to 15 years in extreme cases. The high-profile pastor, who met with President George Bush in the White House in 2006, had previously urged Christians to resist the religious regulations in a legal and nonviolent manner.
Two days after he was arrested and taken away, church members released an open letter he wrote in September–giving instructions that it be publicized if he went missing for more than 48 hours. Below is the powerful letter in its entirety.
“My statement: the disobedience of faith
Pastor Wang Yi
According to the teachings of the Bible and the mission of the gospel, I respect the founding powers of God in China. Because the king of waste and the king of kings are all in God. To this end, I obey God’s arrangement of Chinese history and institutions.
As a pastor of the Christian Church, I started from the Bible and have my own understanding and views on the social, political, and legal fields, what is justice, and the governance of goodness. At the same time, I am full of disgust and hatred for the CCP’s persecution of the church, the deprivation of human faith and the freedom of conscience. However, the change of all social and political systems is not the mission of my calling, nor the purpose of the gospel being given to the people of God.
Because all the ugliness of reality, the political injustice, and the arbitrariness of the law show that the cross of Jesus Christ is the only salvation that every Chinese must have. It also shows that true hope and perfect human society do not exist in any institutional and cultural changes on the earth, but simply how human sins are forgiven by Christ and have the hope of eternal life.
As a pastor, my faith in the gospel and the teachings of the people, and the blame for all sin are out of Christ’s command in the gospel, out of the unmeasurable love of the glory king. Everyone’s life is so short, and God is so eager to command the church to lead and call anyone who is willing to repent to repent.
Christ is so urgent and willing to forgive all who turn from sin. This is the purpose of all the work of the church in China. It is to witness Christ to the world, to witness the kingdom of heaven to China, and to witness the eternal life of heaven to the short life of the earth. This is also my pastoral call.
Pastor Wang Yi: ‘My Disobedience Is Part of the Gospel Mission’
To this end, I accept and respect the CCP’s regime as a temporary ruler allowed by God. As the Lord’s servant, John Calvin, said, the ruler of evil is God’s punishment for the wicked people, and the purpose is to urge the people of God to He repented. To this end, I am willing to obey their law enforcement behavior physically, as if obeying the Lord’s discipline and training.
I also believe that the persecution of the church by the Chinese Communist regime is an extremely evil crime. As a pastor of the Christian Church, I must sternly and openly blame such sins. The calling also requires me to violate all human laws that violate the Bible and God in a non-violent form, in peace and patience. Christ, my Savior, also asks me to joyfully bear all the costs of transgressing evil laws.
But this does not mean that my personal and church disobedience is a political act in any sense of activism or civil disobedience. Because I have no intention of changing any of China’s systems and laws. As a pastor, the only thing I care about is the disobedience of faith, the shock of sinful humanity, and the testimony of the cross of Christ.
As a pastor, my disobedience is part of the Gospel mission. The great mission of Christ requires our great resistance to the world. The purpose of resisting is not to change the world, but to witness another world.
The Ways We Witness Another Eternal World
Because the mission of the church is simply to become a church and not to be part of any secular system. From a negative perspective, the church must separate itself from the world and avoid letting itself be institutionalized by the world. From a positive perspective, all actions of the church are efforts to prove to the world the true existence of another world. The Bible teaches us that we can only obey God and not obey people in matters concerning the gospel and human conscience. Therefore, the disobedience of faith and the patience of the body are the ways we witness another eternal world and another glory king.
This is why I am not interested in changing any political and legal system in China, and I am not even interested in when the policy of the Chinese Communist regime persecution of the church will change. No matter whether I live under any regime now or in the future, as long as the secular government continues to persecute the church and harm the human conscience that belongs to God alone, I will continue to resist the faith. Because all the missions that God has given me are through all my actions so that more Chinese understand that the hope of mankind and society lies only in the redemption of Christ, in the supernatural grace of God.
If God decides to persecute the church by the Chinese Communist regime, to help more Chinese despair, lead them to experience the disillusionment and desert of faith, and thus to know Jesus and to constantly cultivate and build his own church. I am very happy to obey God’s arrangement, because his arrangement is always loving and beautiful.
‘A Higher Authority Than Their Authority’
It is precisely because of all my words and deeds that I do not seek and expect any change at the social and political level; I am no longer afraid of all social and political powers. Because the Bible teaches that God’s authority to set up the government is to fear the people who are evil, not to fear the good. Those who believe in Jesus do not do evil, and they should not fear the power of darkness. Although I am often weak, I believe that this is the promise of the gospel. It is the good news that I have tried my best to spread in the Chinese society.
I also understand that this is precisely the reason why the Chinese Communist regime is full of fear for a church that no longer fears it.
If I am detained for a long or short period of time to help those in power reduce their fear of my faith and my Savior, I am happy to help them in this way. But I know that I can truly help the souls of those in power and law enforcement only when I say no to all the persecution of the church’s sins and fight in a peaceful way. I long for God to use me to tell those who let me lose my personal freedom in a way that loses my personal freedom. There is a higher authority than their authority, and there is a freedom that cannot be held by them, full of Jesus Christ. The church that died and was resurrected.
No matter what kind of crime this regime has imposed on me, what kind of dirty water is poured, as long as this crime points to my beliefs, writing, speech, and missionary behavior, it is only the devil’s lies and temptations. I will deny it all, serve the sentence without serving the law, and confess without confessing.
And I must point out that the persecution of the Lord’s Church and all Chinese who believe in Jesus Christ is the most evil and terrible sin of Chinese society. This is not only a crime against Christians, but also a crime against all non-Christians. Because the government violently and cruelly threatened them and prevented them from coming to Jesus, there is nothing more sinful than this.
If one day, this regime was personally subverted by God. There will be no other reason, necessarily due to God’s punishment and revenge for the justice of this sin. Because on the ground, there is only a thousand-year-old church, no thousand-year-old regime. Only eternal faith, no eternal power.
‘Ask the Lord to Use Me’
Those who hold me will be detained by angels. The person who interrogates me will eventually be interrogated by Christ. With this in mind, the Lord has made me sympathetic and sad to those who are trying and who are holding me. Ask the Lord to use me and give me patience and wisdom to bring the gospel to them.
I made my wife scatter, which made me lose my name and made my family ruin. These powers can do it. However, let me give up my faith and make me change my life and raise me from the dead. No one in the world can do it.
In this case, the distinguished officials, stop doing evil, this is not for my good, but for the benefit of you and your children. I have tried hard to persuade you to stop, because why are you such a humble sinner for me, and willing to pay the price of forever indulging in hell?
Jesus is Christ, the Son of the Living God. He died for sinners and rose for us. Yesterday, today, and forever, He is the master of my king and the whole world. I am his servant and I am detained for this. I will gently resist all who resist God, and I will gladly disobey any law that does not obey God.
The first draft of the letter dated September 21, 2018 was revised on October 4:
What is the disobedience of faith?
I firmly believe that the Bible does not give any government department authority to manage the church and intervene in Christian faith. Therefore, the Bible requires me to, in a peaceful manner, in a gentle rebellion and positive patience, full of joy, resist all administrative and judicial measures that persecute the church and interfere with the Christian faith.
I firmly believe that this is a kind of religious action. In the modern totalitarian state that persecutes the church and resists the gospel, the disobedience of faith is an inevitable part of the gospel movement.
I firmly believe that the disobedience of faith is a kind of end-time action, a testimony to the eternal city of sin in the short-lived city of sin. The disobedient Christian, following the path and manner of the cross, followed the crucified Christ. The resilience of peace is the way we love this world and the way we avoid becoming part of this world.
I firmly believe that the Bible requires me to rely on the grace of Christ and the power of resurrection to follow the two insurmountable bottom lines in practicing this religious disobedience.
The first is the bottom line of the heart. The love for the soul–not the hatred of the flesh–is the motive for resistance in faith. The change of the soul, not the change of the environment, is the goal of religious resistance. At any time, if external persecution and violence take away my peace and patience, and my heart gives rise to resentment and bitterness to those who persecute the church and insult Christians, this religious disobedience fails. It is.
The second is the bottom line of behavior. The gospel requires that the religious resistance must be non-violent. The mystery of the gospel is to replace the physical resistance with positive suffering, and is willing to bear the punishment of unrighteousness. The resilience of peace is the result of love and forgiveness. The cross means being willing to suffer where you don’t have to suffer. Because Christ has unlimited resistance, he has endured all humiliation and hurt. Christ’s way of resisting this world against him is to extend a peaceful olive branch on the cross to a world that crucified him.
I firmly believe that Christ calls me to practice this religious disobedience in this life-long service under this regime that resists the gospel and persecutes the church. This is the way I preach the gospel and the mystery of my evangelism.
The main servant Wang Yi