(Written by a Reaching & Teaching missionary)
What would you feel if one day the police busted into your home, ransacked it, arrested you, and detained many members of your church—because you were unwilling to back down from your religious convictions?
This is exactly what happened recently to a well-known pastor in China. This story along with many other crackdowns on religious freedoms have been especially sobering to me in my current season of life. They have stood as a reminder of how blessed I am to be a citizen of a country that has religious freedom. My heart breaks for this pastor who will likely spend many years in prison. It’s hard to believe that imprisonment is a true threat to Christians around the world. God help us!
Not long after this pastor was arrested, his congregation published a letter that he had written called, “My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience.” He had told his congregation to publish it if he were to be detained for more than 48 hours. Apparently, he knew an arrest was likely.
After reading through the letter twice, I began to cry out to God, “O God, let this become a letter that is heard around the world. Let this man’s words and life cry out from behind those prison walls!” After praying this, it dawned on me. This could be the beginning of a new awakening. My prayer became a call that the winds of persecution would fan the flames of revival and awake God’s church to its mission.
And what is that mission? The pastor put it this way: “My firm belief in the gospel, my teaching, and my rebuking of all evil proceeds from Christ’s command in the gospel and from the unfathomable love of that glorious King. Every man’s life is extremely short, and God fervently commands the church to lead and call any man to repentance who is willing to repent. Christ is eager and willing to forgive all who turn from their sins. This is the goal of all the efforts of the church in China—to testify to the world about our Christ.”
As I read this portion of his letter, I began to wonder. What does it mean to be a voice for the Kingdom of Heaven? I was reminded of John the Baptist who, when asked, said this, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said” (John 1:23). John knew he only had one life to live and one mission to live out: to prepare the way for the Lord. He was a voice speaking on behalf of the greatest gift to ever be given to a sinful world. John understood his mission and purpose was to point people to Christ, and he lived it out for the glory of God.
So, what does this all mean? It means that we too, as God’s children, are called to be a voice for a Kingdom that is far greater than the crumbling kingdoms of this world. We are called to stand on our convictions and point people to Christ—even if it cost us our comfort, our freedom, or even our lives. We are called to proclaim Christ with our lives and our lips even when we feel as if we are the only one.