“China ramps up persecution of Christians”
“China removing crosses from hundreds of churches”
“Chinese authorities dynamite Christian megachurch”
For any Christian with a heart for world evangelism, keeping up with news stories coming out of China can certainly be disheartening. It seems like no more than a couple of months can go by without seeing another story of persecution in China popping up in our newsfeeds.
As I travel to churches raising support, I am frequently met with concerns about such headlines and how myself and the rest of Project China intend to start churches in China given its climate of hostility toward Christians.
“Can you actually start churches in China?”
“Aren’t you afraid?”
“What will happen to you and your family if you’re caught?”
All of these are legitimate questions. I sometimes think on questions like these myself. However, I think that they are oftentimes asked with an eye that is more keen on headlines and news bites than on the Word of God.
Jesus, when commissioning us, promised us His presence as we fulfill it:
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
He didn’t say He would only be with us until we reached the borders of certain countries. He said He would be with us always.
Granted, that doesn’t mean that as Christians we are exempt from persecution. Far from it.
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16)
“It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” (Matt. 10:25)
Jesus was very clear that persecution should be expected. He suffered even unto death. Who are we to expect any different when following after Him?
Is there risk of persecution while planting churches in China? Certainly. In fact, two on our Project China team have been kicked out of the country and now serve in Taiwan, and another has previously dealt with encounters with police.
There is real risk, and yet there is the commission of Christ to obey.
In 2 Samuel 23, David’s men risked their lives breaking through a Philistine garrison to retrieve a drink of water that the king longed to have. How much more should we, as servants of Christ, be willing to do whatever it takes for our King, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4)?
In the face of growing persecution, we must have a growing trust. A growing trust in the promises of Christ. A growing trust in the One who said:
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matt. 5:10-12)
This is part of a series of articles about our growing team of missionaries, Project China. To learn more about Project China and find subsequent links to the websites of its missionaries, please visit our website at www.projectchina.org.