Through the years, we reflected on the structures of the Reformed church, and one of them is that Reformed theology has a strong emphasis on the word. There is a greater emphasis on academic learning when co-workers are trained – that is, the preparation by the word. Thus, there is an inclination towards rationalism. If we do not return to the gospel constantly, there is a danger of moving towards legalism.
We also saw areas of the church that needed to be changed. For example, the pastor is very strong in his preaching but there was a lack of prayer, so we increased our prayer. We did not provide enough care for our members, so we established the membership department after the split… After we established the membership department, we paid attention to every member and we seek to know the sheep. We want to know their names, and then protect and shepherd them.
Just last week, several families from Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu had their bank accounts frozen by the government because they are members of the church. Years of savings are gone, and some of their husbands are still locked up in prison. Believers like them "are scum of the world, the refuse of all things" (1 Corinthians 4:13). They look very different from the images of wealth, health, and happiness that we wish upon each other on Chinese New Year. And yet I doubt that any well wishes – or even actual wealth, health, and happiness – can be of any comfort or enticement to them, and I hope the same for us.
“Grace is King. Bear the Cross.” These few words deeply affected me. I committed myself to this church, and I bear witness to my faith in a biblical way. I walk the way of the cross to share the good news of the cross with the world, with this country, and with a lot of people in this city who do not yet know this news. When my life is continually built on the gospel – willing to deny myself to follow the Lord, willing to bear [the cross] – I realize what the cross means to a Christian. “The cross is my glory” is not simply a phrase, but a lifelong testimony.
Several months after moving to China, I doodled that new name in my journal. I was praying that day, reading scripture, spending a quiet hour with God. As I sketched my new name, I realized these characters were not actually given to me by my Chinese friend: this new name, the one that meant “beautiful” and “restful,” came from my Heavenly Father.
On the night of May 12, my wife was taken away and she texted me that I should either go with her (and be taken away) or stay at home and look after the kids. Because both our kids were still young, I decided to bring my kids over to some other families to find out more information. I felt that the pressure was still pretty intense. They came to knock on my door even two days after the event. But if you truly believe that God is real, there’s not much to fear. As a dad, I ought to set a good example for my kids.
Does the current regime really believe in the theories of Marxism-Leninism or are some of their recent policies a sign that the party is deeply divided? Whatever the case, the actions of the government are a far cry from what Marx himself envisioned.
Brothers and sisters, does Spring Festival belong to them or does it belong to us? In the final analysis, it belongs to us. Among a Jesus-resistant people group, the highest ideal can only be fragmentation. If we do not eradicate the root problem, the country cannot be saved. If Spring Festival does not undergo a rebirth, it will become a great tragedy in Chinese culture.
One New Years Eve, while the villagers were preparing to once again escape from the village, an old beggar came into the village to ask for food. An elderly woman quickly gave him a bowl of rice and warned him that the monster was on its way, and he too should leave the village soon. The old beggar said, "If you let me stay in your house for one night, I have a plan to scare the monster away." The woman was skeptical, but she was in a hurry to leave, so she gave him the permission to stay.
“Prior to the persecution, we conducted a series of interviews with the pastor, elders, deacons, and members of the church. This article focuses on the actions of ERCC, including their church-wide pastoral practices and ecclesiology, ranging from external observations about the church to internal perspective within the church.”