Friday, December 09, 2011

The Most Impactful Gift

I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.     Romans 15:30

This may be the most unusual, but most impactful gift you give this Christmas season. I want you to join me in giving the gift of time and of prayer for brothers and sisters in Christ that are experiencing a travesty. They belong to a church in China that PCC has ties with. Let me explain…

About one and a half years ago PCC hosted an English camp for teenagers from Chinese house churches. Their parents were delighted we invited them to come and study the scriptures as they cannot study in organized demographic groups in China. If you are not familiar with Chinese house churches, let me bring you quickly up to speed.

The Chinese house church movement developed after 1949 as a result of the Communist government policy that requires the registration of all religious organizations. This registration policy requires churches to become part of the TSPM/CCC (Three Self Patriotic Movement /China Christian Council) set-up, which may involve interference in the church's internal affairs either by government officials or by TSPM/CCC officials, who are approved by the Communist Party of China's United Front Work Department. During the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976 all Christian worship was forced underground. Even the official churches were closed, and the house church movement was solidified as an ongoing phenomenon.

Because house churches operate outside government regulations and restrictions, their members and leaders are frequently harassed by local government officials. This persecution may take the form of a prison sentence or, more commonly, reeducation through labor. Heavy fines are also not uncommon, with personal effects being confiscated in lieu of payment if this is refused or unavailable. The prodigious growth of the house church movement in China is one of the greatest phenomena in the 20th century. []

Many of our students came from a church that is a big threat to the government because of their size.  Many times the government tried to shut them down to no avail.  In March they arrested the church’s Senior Pastor, father to Jacob and Amy who were with us.  He is still under house arrest as you are reading this missive.

To make matters worse, the church conducted a capital campaign and raised several million dollars a few years ago to buy property for worship. They bought the property but the government will not allow the seller to give them title. They cannot use the property that they have bought. Church history is clear that persecution makes the church flourish and that is certainly the case here. These courageous Christ followers, without a building, without a Senior Pastor have continued to meet! Every week, they are meeting outdoors at different locations to worship and every week a few more members are arrested by the government for a day or two.   (To follow the story on Facebook, email for details.) You will be so encouraged as you encounter their story.

So here is where we come in.  Can we give the gift of prayer this Christmas? Let’s pray with this church that God will do a miracle in the government, let them start worshipping again openly, free the pastor, and encourage their body that has struggled and suffered for most of this entire year.  (Some lost jobs, some lost apartments, many have lost respect, some have left the church because they gave into the struggle.)  Others have been strengthened of course, but their one deepest desire is to be able to join together in worship this December with their Pastor.  They are believing and praying for this miracle to take place by the end of the year.

PCC is such a generous church and as we focus on year-end giving, would you join me in giving time to intercede for this church?  We need a miracle, but God is in the miracle business. This summer we will once again be hosting Chinese teenagers from these churches.

This Sunday, we will gather again to focus on the genealogy of Jesus looking at The Family Tree.  We will look at Rahab and all her labels.  Read Joshua 2 and Joshua 6 to prepare and I look forward to being with you on Sunday. 

I love being your pastor!