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China: Preaching in the face of persecution

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He’d heard the Gospel all his life while growing up in a Christian home in China. His family even hosted services and church activities at their house.

But it wasn’t until he was an adult, while attending an evangelical meeting, that Yuanbo gave his life to Christ. Since Christians face tremendous pressure and persecution in China, we’ve changed his name to keep him safe.

And while Yuanbo didn’t mind the risk, he knew something was missing. A road map … a written guide to direct his new life.

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Yuanbo was missing a Bible.

God’s Word is extremely rare in China, but he asked the Lord to provide him with his own copy. Then, one day, the Lord answered his prayers. Yuanbo treasured his new Bible above all his other possessions.

In his profession as a clock and watch repairman, he would often visit clients’ homes to make repairs. One day, a church meeting was taking place at a home where he was working. The guests knew Yuanbo owned a Bible, so they began pleading with him to share the Word of God with them.

But Yuanbo had never shared the Gospel before. He didn’t know how, and he didn’t feel qualified. Still, the guests kept insisting. So, Yuanbo put down his tools, took out his Bible, and began reading. He didn’t know how to convey the Gospel message, but he just kept reading.

And something clicked.

Yuanbo knew he didn’t fully understand the passage. He knew he probably fumbled through most of the verses. But it didn’t matter. He could see the yearning in their faces. The desire to know God’s Word. And that was the spark that set Yuanbo’s heart on fire for the Lord.

Yuanbo sold his repair shop about a year later. He walked away from a reliable job and consistent paycheck to pursue a career in ministry. He completed a theological training course and soon began evangelizing and planting churches.

Yuanbo was able to establish many house churches over the next few years … then came the persecution.

Doors were kicked down. Windows smashed. Christians harassed. Police raided churches and confiscated everything inside. They forbade members to meet. Several of the pastors were even arrested and sent to prison.

Knowing Yuanbo would be severely punished for being a leader, the church elders and congregation members quickly sought to protect him, his wife, and their three children. They were sent to live with relatives in another province.

Still, Yuanbo’s faith stood strong.

He worked even harder over the next eight years, partnering with other church planters and pastors to establish 12 new house churches. Yuanbo’s ministry continued to flourish. Soon each church had 20 to 50 members in attendance every week.

But persecution soon found Yuanbo again.

On more than one occasion, Yuanbo was beaten and arrested for his work. He could not escape this time. But he wasn’t afraid. Despite his oppression, he didn’t fear.

Even in the midst of his darkest hours, Yuanbo clung to the words in Matthew 5:10:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Today, Yuanbo continues to preach and share the Gospel even though a fresh wave of persecution is now sweeping throughout China. Just this month, a church large enough for 3,000 people was demolished and the pastors detained for “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.”

Our organization, World Help, works with many Christians in China who have reported increasing raids on house churches, destruction of crosses and other religious symbols, and other various forms of persecution.

The truth is, most of us will never have to experience persecution like this. We don’t have to worry about police storming our churches during services. We don’t have to hide our faith. In fact, many of us have multiple copies of the Bible lying around our houses.

Will you take some time to pray for Yuanbo and other Chinese Christ-followers who are taking a stand for Christ even in the midst of suffering and human rights abuses?

Sam Campbell writes for World Help, a Christian humanitarian organization serving the physical and spiritual needs of people in impoverished communities around the world. To learn more about World Help’s work with persecuted Christians, click here.

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