"Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God." (2 Cor. 4:1-2).
The first thing that we Christians in China would like the global Body of Christ to know is that we have not lost heart. Although we are experiencing a severe trial and some people have given up the faith, we are thankful for the hardship, because God is pruning His Church. It is vital that all believers know that it's not Satan or any government that prunes God's Church. The Master Gardener is our loving and wise Heavenly Father!
The reason the Lord prunes is to make the vine even more fruitful, for He said: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" (John 15:1-2). Therefore we do not lose heart, for we know our lives are completely in the hands of our all-powerful Lord and Savior. At the moment, He is getting rid of some unfruitful branches among His people in China, so that His Church will be refined and more holy as we march forward in spiritual warfare.
We look forward to the time when we will be more fruitful for the kingdom of God. In the meantime, we will not stop proclaiming the Gospel, and we are willing to lay down our lives if necessary so that all of China will hear about Jesus Christ.
"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Cor. 4:3-5).
While our lives are firmly in God's hands, we also recognize that the source of attacks on the Church is the devil. Mankind has been locked in a fierce battle with Satan ever since God declared: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15). The word "enmity" means much more than a separation. This was the commencement of a full-on war to death, as the devil seeks to destroy mankind, especially those people who reflect the character and goodness of God.
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Cor. 4:7-9).
We praise the Lord that He sets limits on what man can do to us. Although millions of believers throughout China are now without a church building to go to and countless home meetings have also been closed down, our faith is strong. The truth of God's Word and the indwelling sweet presence of the Holy Spirit can never be taken from us. We are not afraid, for the Lord Jesus told us, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).
"We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body" (2 Cor. 4:10).
Hallelujah! Already we are seeing the benefits of this time of purging in China. In many places, instead of being decimated, churches are experiencing growth! The hardship has caused Christians to become more serious about our faith, and the gospel ie being boldly proclaimed, resulting in even more people pressing into the kingdom of God.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
Finally, brothers and sisters around the world, we want to thank God for you, for we are all members of the same family. Thank you for praying for the Church in China! Although your struggles may be different from ours right now, we know that the Lord is passionate for His people, and He will never abandon us. God's purpose in suffering is always to humble us, so that we will rely not on our own futile strength, but on the power of His might. We want to conclude by reminding all Christians of this exhortation:
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings" (1 Peter 5:6-9).
read more: https://asiaharvest.org/china-update-a-message-from-the-church-in-china/
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon