I well recall sitting in a small house in China in the early 1990s. I had come to visit and bring aid to the wife of a Christian brother, a pastor with responsibilities in two or three dozen house churches. When he mounted his motorcycle and rode into the countryside to minister to his underground flock, his wife was never sure if he would come home.
I had been counting the number of times Brother Li had been arrested and thrown into a prison cell. After 20 or so episodes I lost count. Sometimes for two weeks he would sit in a cell with his wrists shackled to his ankles and in this way eat, sleep, and fulfil all his bodily necessities. During one imprisonment he was forced to assemble Christmas lights which we in the Western world would buy at our supermarkets. Brother Li performed this task until his fingers were shredded and bleeding.
Then, after a few weeks, he was released from prison to hurry back to his ministry of shepherding the flock, only to be arrested again! A courageous soldier of the cross.
I said to Mrs Li, “What do you think about your husband continuing to do this work when he faces repeated arrest, hardship and torture?”
She looked at me momentarily as though I might have come from another planet, then said: “But the Bible says, ‘… all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.’” That was the end of the conversation.
It is one thing to say a prayer or give a few dollars for a brother or sister who suffers for Christ in some faraway corner of the world, then go back to our easy ‘believerism’ and comfortable lifestyle.
Prayerful and practical support is necessary, but let us learn from the persecuted church, from our brothers and sisters in the Lord, to stand firm in our faith, to grow where we have been planted, and to be good soldiers of the cross.
It is wonderful to “remember them that are in bonds”, to appreciate their courage and conviction and support those who minister to them. A day is coming when we will meet with them around God’s throne in heaven. May God grant that in that day we will be able to hold our heads high and be unashamed.
Co-founder VOM Australia
Subscribe to our monthly print or e-newsletter at vom.com.au/subscribe
If you would like to financially support our Front Line Ministry fund please go to vom.com.au/donate.