Raising the Bar of Boldness

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This is a great post by a friend of mine who is working in China.  Please pray for them.

I hope that all of you have heard and are praying for the leaders of the Golden Lamp Church in northern China. Recently, this mega-church’s properties were confiscated and their leaders detained. As I understand it, five of the leaders have been sentenced to a few years in labor camps. The church reportedly has 50,000 members, making it one of the largest ‘house churches’ in the country.

Though I’m sure the Shanxi province of China registers as a very distant blip on the consciousness of most Western believers, may we endeavor to suffer as parts of the same body with these persecuted brethren, as well as those in other parts of the world. We shirk from suffering – half of our lives are constructed so as to minimize the possibility of pain in the remaining half – so it’s no easy task to voluntarily ‘weep with those that weep.’ But remembering that your sister in Christ had her teeth knocked out of her head for the Gospel’s sake must stir us up to something more than head-wagging pity!

I would like to put up a few quick highlights of this story – some important details to remember. It is inevitable that this kind of persecution should send ripples of panic to fellowships across the country. Those who have ministered in fear will burrow yet deeper bunkers, lamenting their heightened peril. But I would suggest thatnothing is more dishonoring to the spirit of those in persecution. As will be evident by a glance at the below information, this was hardly a church operating out of fear:

1. This church recently built an impressive eight-story building.

2. The church has nearly 30 years of history (according to some sites, I should add – some of them have the church starting in ‘92)

3. In the past, the pastors of the church have conducted local tent revival meetings with thousands in attendance.

4. The charges brought against the leaders cite the church’s lack of planning approval.

5. Five were arrested and sentenced, dozens were beaten and hospitalized.

6. This is part of what leaders are calling the worst crackdown in a decade. Two other large Chinese house churches have also been closed. (Shouwang in Beijing and Wangbang in Shanghai – both with more than 1,000 members)

7. The pastors (husband and wife) were administrators at the provincial teachers’ college.

You are free to draw your own conclusions, of course. I would primarily like to draw attention to the almost-shocking level of openness that this church has exercised for many years. Its pastors were hardly secret agents, they were employees of a local university. And now they’ve paid a price. One leader has been sentenced to seven years of hard labor and ‘re-education.’ How do you think she feels about that? I’ll have to track her down after seven years and ask her, but isn’t there even a chance that she would say that it was a small price to pay for ministering to multitudes for all those years? Isn’t there a chance that she’s worshiping God right now, wherever she’s suffering, because she’s suffering?

If, like me, you think it’s possible, then how could we look at their bold example and conclude that we need to be ‘more careful’? May God help us to come somewhere close to their level of boldness before we ever presume to be close to the same level of danger! Please join me in prayer that the ensuing waves will incite the body of Christ to greater trust and boldness in their proclamation of the Word!

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