April 20, 2011 Translated by China Aid Association
Peace to the prayer intercessors in the Lord’s body!
We need to continue praying! Another Sunday (April 17) has come and gone, yet there’s no sign of positive development in the Shouwang incident: believers from Shouwang Church worshipped outdoors as before and as before the government mobilized the police to stop them. Conflicts and pressure remain, and the key to a harmonious resolution of the crisis still has not been found.
Shouwang Church experienced another eventful Sunday on April 17. On April 19, the Shouwang Church Governing Committee released a “Bulletin on the April 17 Outdoor Worship Service” relating what occurred that day. More lay leaders and brothers and sisters were restricted to their homes that day by local police, neighborhood committees or residential compound security. Pastors (Jin) Tianming and (Li) Xiaobai were summoned (by police) separately the previous night. On the Lord’s Day, more than 100 brothers and sisters participated in the outdoor worship, and 47, including Pastor (Zhang) Xiaofeng, were taken to the local police station for interrogations that were recorded in detail. Afterwards, about a dozen brothers and sisters were released the same day, that is, on April 17. Most of the remaining 30 or so were released on April 18 only after having been in detention for over 24 hours. Among them, not a few members of the body were treated like criminals while inside and suffered great psychological oppression and harm, and some sisters were even vilely treated.
The Shouwang Church bulletin also said frankly: “We know no matter what historical era it is, standing uncompromisingly for the faith always exacts a price. This price might be our homes, jobs, families, businesses, personal freedom and even our life.” In its “A Further Statement on Outdoor Worship” released on April 14, Shouwang Church said this about paying a price for taking the stand of holding on to the faith: “We believe that we are paying the price for holding fast to the uncompromising stand of the house church and for the government’s obsolete religious policy that fails to recognize the ‘legality’ of the house church in the legal sense. It is against this backdrop that the problem of the ‘legality’ of the house church in the legal sense erupted over a place to worship.”
In its April 14 “A Further Statement on Outdoor Worship,” Shouwang Church recounts in detail and explains the real background of this outdoor worship incident and discloses that, on the one hand, the church has paid 27 million yuan for space in a building but cannot use these premises that belong to the church, while on the other hand, it has no alternative but to pay high rent to lease temporary space for its gatherings – for a year and three months, it alone has borne all the inconveniences caused by the worship site problem. At the same time, the church also frankly states its expectations of the government: “The outdoor worship this time does not mean the church purposely wants to have a confrontation with the government. The church is on the one hand fulfilling the requirement of our faith to not give up worshipping together, while on the other hand waiting for the government to resolve the problem together with us …. We believe that if the government department is willing, they will certainly have the God-given wisdom and resolution to resolve this kind of problem; if the government department is willing, they will surely find a fitting way to solve the problem along with the church.”
We believe that this Shouwang Church incident is not an isolated phenomenon involving only one church. Rather, it is a typical phenomenon as times change. In fact, instances of problems arising from meeting sites have also occurred in Shanghai and Nanjing, but now they have their own meeting sites where Sunday worship services are held without problems. As the number of Christians in urban areas increases and as the churches continue to grow, these kinds of conflicts are likely to continue to occur. Because of the representative nature of this incident and its impact on the future, we must more pray even more fervently about it!
Let us first of all intercede in prayer for Shouwang Church: We ask God to comfort, heal and restore the hearts and spirits of those who were oppressed and hurt in this church-state conflict, let them fix their eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2). We ask the omnipotent God to blaze a path for them so that they enter the place He has prepared for them at an early date and worship indoors.
Let us also intercede in prayer for the government agencies: We ask God to give grace to the government officials at all levels and in all departments who are involved in handling this incident, grant them wisdom and strength so that they resolve this problem smoothly, with sincerity and a heart to serve citizens of belief and to resolve the problems facing citizens of belief. And through this, open a new chapter of benign interaction between church and state.
Let us continue to pray for all the other churches: Actually, besides Shouwang Church, many other house churches are suffering raids, pressure and even persecution because of the “legality” question and other issues. Let us also pray for them, that they may continue to have joy even in the midst of trials, that the trial of their faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ! (1 Peter 1:7)
Let us also continue to pray for blessing for Beijing: For Beijing, as the capital of a rising China that must undertake more universal responsibilities, we ask God to grant the grace of peace, harmony, stability and progress, and let justice, faith and morality, benevolence, tolerance and kind-heartedness fill the entire city and let Beijing feel the glory that comes from the presence of God!
This week is Passion Week and all churches are pondering the significance of the Passion of Jesus Christ. Let us also think together about what the apostle Peter said by way of the Cross of Jesus about the significance of our sufferings:
“For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” (1 Peter 2: 20-25)
Churches can continue to take part in intercessory prayer by choosing a day for fasting and prayer:
Choose one day from Monday to Saturday to fast from three meals and pray. Currently, the following 26 churches and a prayer fellowship have selected these days to fast and pray:
Xi’an (Zion) Church, Panshi (The Rock) Church, Aizhizhou (Love Boat) Church
Yage (Song of Solomon) Church, Putaoyuan (Vineyard) Church, Guoshulin (Orchard) Church, Beijing Church, Zhi’ai (Devotion) Church, Daguang (Bright Light) Church
Chengshi Fuxing (City Revival) Church, Yongfeng (永丰) Church, Sanyi (Trinity) Church, Majiabao Church, Jiecaizhong (Mustard Seed) Church
Anhua (安华) Church, Zaidao (The Way) Church, Huimin (惠民) Church, Qingganlan (Green Olive) Church
Maizi (Kernel of Wheat) Church, Aijiabei (Agape) Church, Xingdao (兴道) Church, Chenxing (Morning Star) Church
Ganlanshu (Olive Tree) Church, Mingguang (Clear Light) Church, Wotu (Fertile Soil) Church, Ganlanzhi (Olive Branch) Church, Hebron Prayer Fellowship
We continue to invite you to join our intercessory prayer team, to raise up holy hands and intercede in prayer for Beijing Shouwang Church and other churches, and also to intercede in prayer for the various government departments and officials. May God have mercy and bless Beijing!
Beijing Ministerial Prayer Fellowship
April 20, 2011
Beijing Ministerial Prayer Fellowship Interceding in Prayer for Beijing Shouwang Church (3)
April 20, 2011 Translated by China Aid Association