Last night we visited a church where the pastor preached from I Thessalonians 2. He preached about the gospel ministry, its motives, and appearance. As we read vs. 4 my mind went to two of my friends and brothers at arms who have had to leave China. The short story is that their services were broken up on Easter by the police. They were taken to be interrogated by the police for a few hours, then had their passports confiscated. Ultimately they would be deported from a country to which they have given many years of their lives. As they go with their families, they are leaving behind four churches with trained pastors and many more young men standing ready to take up the Gospel ministry. You can read more about their story here.
Many in China doing ministry are doing so in hiding. They speak in code, they don’t place anything on the internet, and they operate in fear of being caught and being deported. This fear causes them to be silent many times. Some go to teach English as a way of being a witness, and never get around to telling their students about the Gospel. This is not how we should carry on our ministry.
Nine times in the book of Acts, the Bible speaks of the disciples speaking with boldness. I can’t imagine Paul speaking in code. His boldness almost cost him his life at times and he had to run, but he never ceased to proclaim the Gospel. This brings me back to I Thessalonians 2:4. Paul states that God had allowed him to be entrusted with the Gospel. Think about that! Paul had been given the most important message in history. This message has the power to change mens lives, and their eternal destination. This message is the power of God. Paul said, “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.”
I am sure there are some who did not like my friends’ approach to ministry in China. Some might say “You are being reckless, foolish, and you are going to get in trouble.” My friends, however have proclaimed the Gospel that they were entrusted with, and they did so in a way as not to please men (or other missionaries in China). Their goal was to proclaim the Gospel in such a fashion that it pleased God. Though they have been kicked out of their proverbial Iconium (See Acts 14:1-7) they will land in their Lycaonia and preach the Gospel there. The Gospel will go forth, the work will continue, and Jesus will win.
I ask you to pray. Pray for the pastors left in China that they would continue to grow, train men, and boldly proclaim the gospel. I ask you to pray for the other missionaries in China, that they would not be fearful, but bold. I ask you to pray for my friends Jake Taube and John Walz that God would use them in this new chapter of ministry. They are my heroes, and I believe God is pleased with what they did in China.