“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
Although the Apostle Paul didn’t go into detail about the kind of pressure he was under when he visited areas in present-day Turkey, it’s interesting that the Greek words he used here were in relation to what occurs when a heavy stone, weighing as much as 300 pounds, was slowly lowered onto the chest of a restrained person to torture them. The pressure gradually increased as the stone came down, making it almost impossible to breath. The victim was immobilized, unable to move forward or back. They were completely helpless. That’s the kind of pressure Paul experienced when sharing the gospel.
As believers, we often face hardships, but many times we manage to find an escape route, or at least we are able to delay the pain. Sometimes, however, there are no options available, and we must be totally stripped of all props. God is able to bring us to a place of utter helplessness in ourselves or in other people. All we are left with is Jesus, and if He does not sustain us, we will die.
When we get to this place, we will be able to say with Paul that we “rely not on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” Indeed, God did figuratively raise Paul from the dead on that and many other occasions, and he continued to establish God’s kingdom among the Gentiles until the day God called him home.
In China today, many Christians also feel like Paul did. Since President-for-life, Xi Jinping, announced his plans to clamp down on religion, massive persecution has broken out against God’s people, in ways that have not been seen since Mao’s demonic campaigns to destroy Christianity from the 1950s to the 1970s.
In this newsletter, and subsequent issues, we plan to share a thorough overview of what is going on in China today, especially in relation to the Body of Christ.