A Message from an Imprisoned Chinese House Church Leader

Pastor Wang Yi & his wife

In October, house church pastor Wang Yi (pictured above with his wife) sat down and wrote a “Declaration of Faithful Disobedience,” as he saw the storm clouds of persecution about to close in on him and his church. He instructed his fellow elders to hold the letter and only release it after he had been arrested more than 48 hours.

That moment came on the morning of Sunday December 9th, when officers from China’s Public Security Bureau raided Wang’s Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu. The church leaders were among 100 believers arrested and taken away that morning. Many have not been heard from since. Just before Christmas, a further 60 church members were detained, with some taken into China’s notorious “black jail” system, where people are tortured mercilessly without anyone knowing their whereabouts. Here is Wang Yi’s declaration:

“On the basis of the teachings of the Bible and the mission of the gospel, I respect the authorities God has established in China. For God deposes kings and raises up kings. This is why I submit to the historical and institutional arrangements of God in China.

As a pastor of a Christian church, I have my own understanding and views, based on the Bible, about what righteous order and good government is. At the same time, I am filled with anger and disgust at the persecution of the church by this Communist regime, at the wickedness of their depriving people of the freedoms of religion and of conscience. But 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.

For all hideous realities, unrighteous politics, and arbitrary laws manifest the cross of Jesus Christ, the only means by which every Chinese person must be saved. They also manifest the fact that 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.

As a pastor, my firm belief in the gospel, my teaching, and my rebuking of all evil proceeds from Christ’s command in the gospel and from the unfathomable love of that glorious King. Every man’s life is extremely short, and God fervently commands the church to lead and call any man to repentance who is willing to repent. Christ is eager and willing to forgive all who turn from their sins. This is the goal of all the efforts of the church in China—to testify to the world about our Christ, to testify to the Middle Kingdom about the Kingdom of Heaven, to testify to earthly, momentary lives about heavenly, eternal life. This is also the pastoral calling that I have received.

For this reason, I accept and respect the fact that this Communist regime has been allowed by God to rule temporarily. As the Lord’s servant John Calvin said, wicked rulers are the judgment of God on a wicked people, the goal being to urge God’s people to repent and turn again toward Him. For this reason, I am joyfully willing to submit myself to their enforcement of the law as though submitting to the discipline and training of the Lord.

At the same time, I believe that this Communist regime’s persecution against the church is a greatly wicked, unlawful action. As a pastor of a Christian church, I must denounce this wickedness openly and severely. The calling that I have received requires me to use non-violent methods to disobey those human laws that disobey the Bible and God. My Savior Christ also requires me to joyfully bear all costs for disobeying wicked laws.

But this does not mean that my personal disobedience and the disobedience of the church is in any sense “fighting for rights” or political activism in the form of civil disobedience, because 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.

As a pastor, my disobedience is one part of the gospel commission. Christ’s great commission requires of us great disobedience. The goal of disobedience is not to change the world but to testify about another world.

For the mission of the church is only to be the church and not to become a part of any secular institution. From a negative perspective, the church must separate itself from the world and keep itself from being institutionalized by the world. From a positive perspective, all acts of the church are attempts to prove to the world the real existence of another world. The Bible teaches us that, in all matters relating to the gospel and human conscience, we must obey God and not men. For this reason, spiritual disobedience and bodily suffering are both ways we testify to another eternal world and to another glorious King.

This is why I am not interested in changing any political or legal institutions in China. I’m not even interested in the question of when the Communist regime’s policies persecuting the church will change. Regardless of which regime I live under now or in the future, as long as the secular government continues to persecute the church, violating human consciences that belong to God alone, I will continue my faithful disobedience. For 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.

If God decides to use the persecution of this Communist regime against the church to help more Chinese people to despair of their futures, to lead them through a wilderness of spiritual disillusionment and through this to make them know Jesus, if through this he continues disciplining and building up his church, then I am joyfully willing to submit to God’s plans, for his plans are always benevolent and good.

Precisely because none of my words and actions are directed toward seeking and hoping for societal and political transformation, I have no fear of any social or political power. For the Bible teaches us that God establishes governmental authorities in order to terrorize evildoers, not to terrorize doers of good. If believers in Jesus do no wrong then they should not be afraid of dark powers. Even though I am often weak, I firmly believe this is the promise of the gospel. It is what I’ve devoted all of my energy to. It is the good news that I am spreading throughout Chinese society.

I also understand that this happens to be the very reason why the Communist regime is filled with fear at a church that is no longer afraid of it.

If I am imprisoned for a long or short period of time, if I can help reduce the authorities’ fear of my faith and of my Savior, I am very joyfully willing to help them in this way. But I know that only when I renounce all the wickedness of this persecution against the church and use peaceful means to disobey, will I truly be able to help the souls of the authorities and law enforcement. 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.

Regardless of what crime the government charges me with, whatever filth they fling at me, as long as this charge is related to my faith, my writings, my comments, and my teachings, it is merely a lie and temptation of demons. I categorically deny it. I will serve my sentence, but I will not serve the law. I will be executed, but I will not plead guilty.

Moreover, I must point out that persecution against the Lord’s church and against all Chinese people who believe in Jesus Christ is the most wicked and the most horrendous evil of Chinese society. This is not only a sin against Christians. It is also a sin against all non-Christians. For the government is brutally and ruthlessly threatening them and hindering them from coming to Jesus. There is no greater wickedness in the world than this.

If this regime is one day overthrown by God, it will be for no other reason than God’s righteous punishment and revenge for this evil. For on earth, there has only ever been a thousand-year church. There has never been a thousand-year government. There is only eternal faith. There is no eternal power.

Those who lock me up will one day be locked up by angels. Those who interrogate me will finally be questioned and judged by Christ. When I think of this, the Lord fills me with a natural compassion and grief toward those who are attempting to and actively imprisoning me. Pray that the Lord would use me, that he would grant me patience and wisdom, that I might take the gospel to them.

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.

And so, respectable officers, stop committing evil. This is not for my benefit but rather for yours and your children’s. I plead earnestly with you to stay your hands, for why should you be willing to pay the price of eternal damnation in hell for the sake of a lowly sinner such as I?

Jesus is the Christ, son of the eternal, living God. He died for sinners and rose to life for us. He is my king and the king of the whole earth yesterday, today, and forever. I am his servant, and I am imprisoned because of this. I will resist in meekness those who resist God, and I will joyfully violate all laws that violate God’s laws.”

The Lord’s servant,

Wang Yi

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November 18 – International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

PersecutedChristians

Father God,

As one Church, united under your holy headship, and knowing that we are all one family in Christ;

We pray for those who suffer in your name all over the world, our brothers and sisters, who share in that same great gift of salvation through your Son, but who face injustice, oppression and even death because of their faith in you.

We want to walk with them as they journey through the valley of darkness, and we pray knowing that you are a God of compassion, comfort and justice; who always hears their prayers, never leaves them and will forever be their fortress and shield, whatever they face.

 

We pray that you will grant them strength, courage, and protection from those who seek to harm them because they follow you;

Guidance and wisdom for when their path seems impossible to tread, 

And hope for a future where they have the freedom to worship you without fear.

In the name of Jesus, Amen

Richard Rohr – Persecuted for My Sake (Oscar Romero)

Saint Oscar Romero
Saint Oscar Romero

Persecuted for My Sake
Sunday, October 14, 2018

 

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. . . .  And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. —Matthew 5:10,12, The Message

Today Óscar Romero (1917–1980) will be named a saint by the Catholic Church. As Archbishop of San Salvador for the last four years of his life, Romero was a strong, public voice for the many voiceless and anonymous poor of El Salvador and Latin America. When he preached in the cathedral on Sunday mornings, I’m told that the streets were empty and all the radios where on full volume, to hear truth and sanity in an insane and corrupt world.

Here is a man who suffered with and for those who suffered. His loving heart shines through clearly in his homilies:

The shepherd must be where the suffering is. [1]

My soul is sore when I learn how our people are tortured, when I learn how the rights of those created in the image of God are violated.  [2]

A Gospel that doesn’t take into account the rights of human beings, a Christianity that doesn’t make a positive contribution to the history of the world, is not the authentic doctrine of Christ, but rather simply an instrument of power. We . . . don’t want to be a plaything of the worldly powers, rather we want to be the Church that carries the authentic, courageous Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, even when it might become necessary to die like he did, on a cross. [3]

In his homily on March 23, 1980, the day before he was murdered, Romero addressed the Salvadoran military directly:

Brothers, we are part of the same people. You are killing your own brother and sister peasants and when you are faced with an order to kill given by a man, the law of God must prevail; the law that says: Thou shalt not kill. No soldier is obliged to obey an order against the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. And it is time that you recover your consciences. . . . In the name of God, then, and in the name of this suffering people whose laments rise up to heaven each day more tumultuously, I plead with you, I pray you, I order you, in the name of God: Stop the repression! [4]

The next day, following his sermon, a U.S.-supported government hit squad shot him through his heart as he stood at the altar.

Only a few weeks earlier, Romero had said:

I have often been threatened with death. I must tell you, as a Christian, I do not believe in death without resurrection. If I am killed, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people. I say so without boasting, with the greatest humility. . . . A bishop will die, but God’s church, which is the people, will never perish. [5]

Romero’s epitaph reads “Sentir con la Iglesia” (“To be of one mind and heart with the Church”); these words were his episcopal motto, his promise to share the suffering and strength of the people he served.

Watch Father Richard’s reflection on Óscar Romero in this 3-minute video.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide – Week of Prayer for Pakistan

pakistan1

Christians and other minority faiths in Pakistan not only face the prospect of being targeted in a violent attack, but also face everyday institutional and social discrimination. A general election is scheduled for 25 July – please pray that the election is free and fair, and takes place peacefully.

Sunday
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws make it a criminal act to insult another’s religion. The blasphemy laws are widely misused to settle personal scores and target religious minorities. Though the majority of accusations are made against Muslims, in some cases where non-Muslims are accused, their entire community may be attacked. Pray today that the blasphemy laws would be amended.

Monday
Last June, Taimoor Raza was the first person to be sentenced to death by the Anti-Terrorism Court for allegedly committing blasphemy on Facebook. Please pray for justice in his case, and that this ruling does not lead to more accusations of blasphemy on social media.

Tuesday
Today please pray for Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy. She has been on death row since 2010. Pray today for her unconditional release.

Wednesday
In March, 20 men accused of being part of the mob that burned Shama and Shezad Masih to death were acquitted of any wrongdoing. Pray that justice would be done in the case of Shama and Shezad, and that all those involved in their murders would be punished.

Thursday
We’ve seen a worrying increase in the forced marriage and forced conversion of Christian and Hindu girls. These girls, usually just barely teenagers, are abducted, forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men who are strangers to them. Often, their families never see them again. Pray that the government and police in Pakistan would take decisive action to stop these abductions.

Friday
Students in Pakistan are exposed to biased curriculum, which breeds discrimination against religious minorities. Religious minority students face discrimination as well as physical and mental abuse from fellow classmates and teachers. Pray today for a change in the education system, and for the introduction of unbiased textbooks and non-discriminatory curricula.

Saturday
Lord, we thank you for the work of our partners in Pakistan, especially the Cecil and Iris Chaudhry Foundation and the National Commission for Justice and Peace. Thank you for their calling to work with religious minorities and seek justice for the oppressed: please bless their work and grant them the physical and spiritual resources they need.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide – Prayer for Eritrea

Thank you so much for your faithful prayers for Eritrea over the years. It’s often difficult to keep faithfully petitioning God during a situation which doesn’t change or worsens; so your perseverance means the world to us and, of course, to the Eritrean people who are suffering under one of the most brutal regimes in the world.

Sunday 20 May
Patriarch Antonios of the Eritrean Orthodox Church has been under house arrest since he was illegally removed from office in 2007. He is allegedly under pressure to resign and make way for a pro-government bishop. He’s in his 90s, surrounded by enemies, and severely diabetic. Ask God to encourage Patriarch Antonios in his imprisonment, granting him strength, faith and perseverance.

Monday 21 May
Patriarch Antonios is one of over 10,000 prisoners of conscience in Eritrea, including many from recognised and unrecognised faith groups who have been detained without charge or trial, in life threatening conditions. Please pray for all those who are imprisoned in Eritrea: for God to comfort them, grant them endurance, and for their unconditional release.

Continue reading “Christian Solidarity Worldwide – Prayer for Eritrea”

Omul evanghelic. O explorare a comunitatilor protestante romanesti

Dragi prieteni,

Vă anunț, cu un sentiment de mare ușurare, că astăzi, înainte de prânz, „după lupte seculare”, care au durat mai mult de… zece ani, am predat la Polirom textele definitive și am semnat contractul final pentru volumul Omul evanghelic. O explorare a comunităților protestante românești. Este vorba de un volum masiv, de circa 650 de pagini, format mare, ce include texte elaborate de 19 autori, din interiorul și din afara mediului evanghelic.

Volumul va apărea în librării cel mai târziu până la începutul lunii septembrie, iar până la finalul aceleiași luni va fi disponibilă și versiunea ebook.

În viitorul apropiat voi voi începe să comunic, din când în când, mai multe informații despre acest proiect editorial.

Până atunci, pentru cei interesați, iată mai jos cuprinsul volumului.

Omul evanghelic – Cuprins

 

Procesul comunistilor din Romania – Cateva consideratii preliminare

Marți 8 mai a avut loc la Palatul culturii din Iași lansarea publică a Proiectului „Procesul comuniștilor”, coordonat de Universitatea Petre Andrei (UPA), împreună cu Institutul de Studiere a Ideologiilor și derulat în colaborare cu mai multe instituții:, Academia Română, Institutul de Investigare a Crimelor Comunismului și Memoria Exilului Românesc, Editura Institutului European, Primăria Municipiului Iași etc.


Georgeta Condur

Proiectul este prevăzut a se desfășura pe durata a doi ani și jumătate, având trei componente: cercetare, judiciară și editorială. Evident, este vorba mai degrabă de un „proces moral”, cei mai mulți dintre cei vizați nemaifiind în viață. Cum însă în România (precum și în celelalte țări foste comuniste) nu a avut loc un proces de decomunizare, asemănător celui de denazificare în Germania, după căderea regimului hitlerist, consider că acest demers este unul salutar și absolut necesar, dat fiind că tinerele generații sunt din ce în ce mai ignorante cu privire la trecutul recent. Mai multe detalii despre proiect puteți găsi pe situl web al acesteia. Continue reading “Procesul comunistilor din Romania – Cateva consideratii preliminare”