“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted……..” 2 Timothy 3:12
In the light of the massive amounts of persecution we see around the world just about every day now, this verse comes vividly to life from our computer screens and TV’s. In fact, all those Bible verses have come to life for me as I am reading the accounts of the beginnings of the Chinese house church movement. In the book, “The Heavenly Man,” the autobiographical story of Liu Zhenying, also known as Brother Yun I read vivid accounts of heartbreaking persecution and unbelievable suffering for the cause of Christ.
What does this mean for me here in America, the land of the free. Despite the fact that I believe our freedoms even here are eroding daily, we can still worship in the public sector without worrying about prison, death, or excommunication from our communities and families. We are extremely blessed to be living in a democracy that allows us to worship just about anywhere freely. I say “just about anywhere” because I feel the landscape is changing just as the Bible says in the last days it will.
I feel saddened when I see all the dusty expensive Bibles on my bookshelf. I have two I use regularly, but I have others I’ve collected over the years, expensive reference Bibles with leather covers. I think of how precious just one verse or page would be to any of these persecuted groups even today. I think of the accounts of how the Chinese Christians hid and smuggled the Word, placing pages in loaves of bread; tucking pages under their coats and shoes. How they eagerly studied it, cherish it, memorizing whole chapters.
You might ask what one can do over here? There is much……we can financially support, but most of all we can pray. God says prayer matters. He says those mornings I spend out in my shop make a difference, and I believe they do. They change me for one thing. For another, I believe those prayers reach the very Throne of God. Over and over, there are accounts of miracles happening with no other explanation other than someone was praying and those prayers were felt.
I leave you today with one excerpt from the book that touched my heart. It takes place as some of he house churches were meeting after having some disputes over doctrine and teaching. The meeting was almost a failure until this:
The atmosphere deteriorated until it became like a business meeting, with everyone talking at once about different subjects. Many old wounds resurfaced and it became apparent the two groups were as far apart as they’d ever been. It looked as if Brother Zu had missed his chance to wash their feet (which God had spoken to his heart and told him to do) Suddenly Zhang slapped his knee and announced, “All this talk is a waste of time. Let’s pray and then we’ll leave.” Brother Fan pushed Brother Zu in the back and instructed him, “Quick! Get some water and do what the Lord told you to do!”Zhang was praying with his eyes closed when Xu knelt down in front of him and started gently to take his shoes and socks off. Zhang opened his eyes and was amazed. He couldn’t believe the great Xu Yongze, leader of the largest house church movement in China, would ever kneel down and wash his feet! Zhang cried out and wrapped his arms around Brother Xu in a warm embrace.Deborah Xu then brought out a bucket of warm water and started to wash the feet of Zhang’s co-worker, Sister Ding. The two of them knelt down on the floor and hugged and wept. “The Heavenly Man,” Brother Yun with Paul Hattaway