Xiao Li was one of the first to participate in the mentorship program of Open Doors China established in 2011. From the start, he had expected his mentor Judy* to guide him in how to plant an urban church. After three years, God expanded his horizons and called him to an unexpected domain of His Kingdom.
“I was brought up in a rural church. In the year 2006, I was sent by my church network to plant a church in the city. I was confused and stressed. I asked myself, ‘Can I plant an urban church with a rural mindset? Can I simply ‘move’ a rural church to the city?’ I desperately needed guidance.
“Praise the Lord, He sent Judy* to be my mentor through Open Doors China. She is so patient and thoughtful. She spent many years training us. She met with us every two or three months, and we had regular contact by phone. Judy taught me the basics of building up a local church. She encouraged me to establish a firm biblical foundation. She encouraged me to further my studies in theology. I am now pursuing a master’s degree in theology through online learning. In cities, having this type of certification helps you gain the confidence and respect of the people.
“Judy helped me to expand my horizons by teaching me about persecution taking place in different countries. I feel connected with our persecuted brothers and sisters because the church is not entirely free in my country. Until a couple of years ago, the police ‘invited me for tea’ frequently. ‘Tea with the police’ is part a pastor’s job in my country. The authorities just want to know how many people we have and what we are doing so they can manage us. This is an effective way for them to avoid high-profile Christian activities taking place without their consent. Most of the time, it doesn’t harm me or my church.
“During that period, we were receiving frequent requests for tea. I didn’t know how long it would take for normalcy to return. I prayed to the Lord, ‘Why do you allow persecution to come to me?’ This was my prayer for quite some time.
“I gradually felt the Lord leading me to greater engagement with persecuted Christians. I shared this with the leader of my church network. As I am an introvert, it is not very common for me to share my suggestions with my leaders. This was the work of the Spirit. My leaders endorsed my passion and eventually came to the decision that the missions department of my church network would donate money every month to support the ministry to the persecuted church. While it isn’t much financial support, our hearts are devoted to the Lord. God will give us opportunities for engagement.
“I am so thankful that the Lord has called me to this unexpected domain of His Kingdom. ‘It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.’” (Psalm 119:71)
Father, we thank you for the example of Xiao and for mentorship programs that are being offered in China. We know that You are doing a mighty work in China and have been for the past few decades. While the task of sharing your good news can be overwhelming at times, we thank You that You offer us all we need and even bring alongside other believers to encourage us in this task. We pray that believers in China would receive any resources or materials they need in order to grow in their faith with You and share You with those around them. We praise you along with our brothers and sisters in China, Amen.