A friend dropped this article on my desk this morning regarding a group of an underground Protestant church who were detained in Beijing after attempting to pray in public. I thought it was particularly interesting that one portion of the NY Times article stated that:
After years of tolerance by the country’s religious authorities, unregistered churches have been facing increased pressure to either disband or join the system of state-controlled congregations. There are as many as 60 million Protestants in China, with a growing number choosing house churches.-ANDREW JACOBS
I think that this is a good reminder for us in the western world of some things I do not belive we consider very often. In all of the daily struggles we experience I do not recall once being detained, thrown in jail, etc. for praying. And this is not to devalue the real trouble we experience. But how much of it is the product of a fallen world and how much is directly related to the Gospel?
Secondly I believe moments like these remind me of my lacking, and displaced my prayer life. How I tend to miss the forest of believers persevering because I am concentrating on just the trees I know. I could say that media or society desensitizes me from all the concerns of others, but that would be in direct contridiction to the ‘have this attitude which is also in Christ’ we find in Philippians 2. Perspective, paradigm, and passions have to be realigned when I understand the Gospel. Entertainment removes implications in many cases. Its not enough to know, I have to care.
Finally it is a swift reminder of the respite we have here…currently. We presume that society will alway embrace the Faith (and it is seen my lack of urgency.) Accepting our passive attempts to share the Gospel. But this is not the residual promise of ‘suffering now, glory later’ we find throughout the scriptures. Those experiences in China and elsewhere push me find ways to remind my children that one day you may not be so well recieved for trying to live a life belonging to Jesus. And yet you still must abound in love toward your accusors (not from a distance, not passive. For Christ did neither of those.) That context gives a clearer picture of what ‘testimonies’ and ‘witness’ is really about.
My heart and desire to help goes out to those on the mission field, local and abroad. Those churches suffering for the Gospel’s sake. Those individuals who are enduring for specifically the gospels implications.
What are your thoughts? What can we do to help? What should we be praying for? What are other implications we should be considering?