CHENGDU – Last week Chinese authorities detained Pastor Wang Yi and 100 members of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Szechuan, China.Bob Fu, the president of ChinaAid, said that “the massive overnight attack . . . represents a major escalation of religious persecution in China.”Former U.S. Senator and current U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, recently observed that China “is home to one of the . . . worst human rights situations in the world. It is a very bad situation for the religious community.” He noted that millions of Christians, Muslims, and Tibetan Buddhists have been incarcerated as part of the secularization of China.
While we all lament this persecution, Missions Box News would prefer to direct our readers’ attention to portions of a letter written by Pastor Yi before his imprisonment. In that letter, he eloquently explained his position as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The letter brings to recollection Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth. In the fourth chapter, he described his situation as
Hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed.
Because American Christians live in the relative luxury of our constitutional freedom of religion, we are inclined to think in terms of fighting back against persecution. And, because our religious freedom is ensconced in the U.S. Constitution, we are often easily trapped into seeing our freedom to worship Jesus Christ as a political issue. It is not.
Our faith is in Jesus, not in politicians. They all rule under His appointment and authority whether we agree with them or not. (See Romans 13) The Lord did not tell us to avoid persecution but, rather expect it, and to not be defeated by it.
Here are a few excerpts from Pastor Yi’s letter. Read them and be encouraged.
Changing social and political institutions is not the mission I have been called to, and it is not the goal for which God has given his people the gospel.
True hope and a perfect society will never be found in the transformation of any earthly institution or culture but only in our sins being freely forgiven by Christ and in the hope of eternal life.
I do not have the intention of changing any institutions or laws of China. As a pastor, the only thing I care about is the disruption of man’s sinful nature by this faithful disobedience and the testimony it bears for the cross of Christ.
The entire commission God has given me is to let more Chinese people know through my actions that the hope of humanity and society is only in the redemption of Christ, in the supernatural, gracious sovereignty of God.
Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family – the authorities are capable of doing all of these things. However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith; no one can make me change my life, and no one can raise me from the dead.
I hope God uses me, by means of first losing my personal freedom, to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.
Are we willing to say the same? Are we willing to serve the Lord regardless of the cost? Many have. Many are. But are we?
Please pray for Pastor Yi, his wife (who was also taken) and the members of his church that their testimony will ring clear and true.
To read more news on China on Missions Box, go here.
- The Christian Post, Chinese pastor leaves letter before being detained with 100 Christians
- CBN, Letter From a Chengdu Jail by Wang Yi
- Radio Free Asia, China ‘Expanding’ Persecution of Religious Believers: US Ambassador
- Radio Free Asia, Public Domain