Offering Premarital Counseling While Under Arrest
Sa Zhong Zi (meaning “sow seeds”) is the pseudonym for an American living in China assisting with the support and strengthening of the Chinese house church.
“Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name.” Selah
Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations -
let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah
Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!”
I recently met with the staff of a local seminary. They needed some encouragement and direction in light of recent persecutions they have experienced.
I asked a recently detained pastor if he would mind sharing a devotional with the staff during their regular staff meeting. He agreed and came down to meet us. I gave him the floor and he shared his experiences, encouraging all of us from Psalm 66.
He honestly shared with us his emotions the day he was brought into the police station. He was nervous. He felt a bit unprepared for it this time, even though he has been frequently hauled into the police station. This time, he and his wife were able to encourage one another and turn to the Lord for strength and support.
The pastor shared a funny story about his detainment that brought a smile to all our faces.
“I ended up giving one of the policemen a pre-marital counseling session,” he said. “The young police officer watching us that day confided in me that he was having relationship problems with his girlfriend and wanted advice. He was so open. My wife and I sat there and gave him counsel in his relationship. The more he talked, the more he opened up. When another officer came into the room, he stopped talking, but after the other officer left and it was just my wife and I with this young officer, he continued to open up and pour out his heart.”
The staff smiled and laughed, as did I. This is the way God is using his people here in China. They do not see the police as their enemies. In many cases, the police are just carrying out orders given to them from one or two levels up. One Chinese brother shared with me that, in fact, the police in many parts of China have a positive view of Christians and don’t really carry out orders aimed at harassing the church wholeheartedly.
Jesus told us to love our enemies, and to pray for those who persecute us. As I witness the humble actions of house church pastors and believers like this pastor, I am encouraged to see Jesus reflected in their actions and attitudes.