More than 100 members of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China were arrested on Sunday, December 9. The crackdown is intensifying under Xi Jinping's regime. Among those taken away on Sunday were Wang Yi, senior pastor of Early Rain Church, and his wife Jiang Rong, who have not been heard from since Sunday.
AAnticipating this eventuality, Pastor Wang Yi wrote a statement asking his church to make it public if he was to remain in detention for more than 48 hours. In his text, he explains the meaning of what he calls “faithful disobedience,” how it differs from political activism or civil disobedience, and how Christians should carry it out.
Brent Pinkall and Amy Cheung translated this letter into English for China Partnership. Today we invite you to read the entire text in French below.
Based on the teachings of the Bible and the mission of the gospel, I respect the authorities that God has established in China. For God sets down kings and raises up kings. This is why I submit to God's historical and institutional arrangements in China.
As a pastor of a Christian church, I have my own understanding and my own biblically based views on what righteous order and good government is. At the same time, I am filled with anger and disgust at the persecution of the Church by this Communist regime, at the wickedness that deprives people of the freedoms of religion and conscience.
But changing social and political institutions is not the mission to which I have been called, and it is not the purpose for which God has given the gospel to his people.
All the hideous realities, unjust policies and arbitrary laws demonstrate that the cross of Jesus Christ is the only means by which every Chinese must be saved. They also demonstrate that true hope and a perfect society will never be found in the transformation of an earthly institution or culture, but only in having our sins freely forgiven by Christ and in the hope of life. eternal.
Witness to the "middle kingdom" of the Kingdom of HeavenAs a pastor, my firm belief in the gospel, my teaching, and my rebuke of all evil flow from Christ's command in the gospel and from the unfathomable love of this glorious King. Every man's life is extremely short, and God fervently commands the Church to lead and call all men who are ready to repent, to repentance. Christ is desired and willing to forgive all who turn away from their sins.
This is the goal of all the Church's efforts in China: to bear witness of Christ to the world, to bear witness to the “middle kingdom” of the Kingdom of heaven, to bear witness to earthly and momentary lives, to heavenly and eternal life. It is also the pastoral call that I have received.
Wicked rulers are the judgment of GodFor this reason, I accept and respect that God allowed this communist regime to rule temporarily. As the Lord's servant John Calvin says, wicked rulers are God's judgment on wicked people, the purpose of which is to make God's people repent and turn to them again.
For this reason, I am happy to submit to their law enforcement as if it were subject to the discipline and training of the Lord.
At the same time, I believe that the persecution of the Church by the Communist regime is an extremely evil and illegal action. As the pastor of a Christian church, I must speak out against this wickedness openly and severely. The call I received compels me to use non-violent methods to disobey those human laws that disobey the Bible and God. My Savior Christ also demands that I gladly bear all the costs for disobeying bad laws.
My disobedience is not a fight for rightsBut that does not mean that my personal disobedience and the disobedience of the church somehow constitutes a "fight for rights" or political activism in the form of civil disobedience, because I have no intention of changing the laws. or the institutions of China.
As a pastor, the only thing that matters to me is the disturbance of the sinful nature of man by this faithful disobedience and the testimony that it bears for the cross of Christ.
As a pastor, my disobedience is part of the gospel commission. The great mission of Christ demands great disobedience of us. The purpose of disobedience is not to change the world but to witness to another world.
For the mission of the Church consists only in being the Church and not being part of any lay institution. On the negative side, the Church must separate itself from the world and not be institutionalized by the world. On the positive side, all acts of the Church constitute attempts to prove to the world the real existence of another world. The Bible teaches us that in everything that concerns the gospel and the human conscience, we are to obey God and not men.
For this reason, spiritual disobedience and physical suffering are the two means by which we witness to another eternal world and another glorious king.
I will pursue my staunch disobedience.Therefore, I am not interested in changing political or legal institutions in China. I'm not even interested in the question of when the policies of the Communist regime persecuting the Church will change. Whatever regime I live in today or in the future, as long as the secular government continues to persecute the Church, violating human consciences that belong to God alone, I will continue my staunch disobedience.
For the whole vocation that God has entrusted to me consists in informing more Chinese by my actions that the hope of humanity and of society lies only in the redemption of Christ, in the supernatural and gracious sovereignty of God.
If God decides to use the persecution of this Communist regime against the Church to help more Chinese people to despair of their future, to lead them through a desert of spiritual disillusionment and to make them known to Jesus, if he continues to discipline and build up his Church, then I am happily willing to submit to God's plans, for his plans are always benevolent and good.
It's the promise of the gospelIt is precisely because none of my words and actions are aimed at seeking and hoping for social and political transformation that I fear no social or political power. For the Bible teaches us that God establishes government authorities to terrorize wrongdoers, not to terrorize those who do good. If believers in Jesus do no harm, they should not be afraid of dark powers. Even though I am often weak, I firmly believe that this is the promise of the gospel. This is what I devoted all my energy to. This is the good news that I am spreading in Chinese society.
I also understand that this is precisely the reason why the Communist regime is filled with fear in the face of a Church that is no longer afraid of it.
Whether I am imprisoned for a short or long time, if I can help reduce the fear of the authorities of my faith and of my Savior, I am very happy that I can help them in this way. But I know that it is only when I renounce all the wickedness of this persecution against the Church and use peaceful means to disobey, that I can truly help the souls of authorities and law enforcement. .
I hope God will use me by losing my personal freedom firstI hope God will use me by losing my personal freedom first, to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority greater than their authority and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrict, a freedom that fills the church of Jesus Christ crucified and risen.
It doesn't matter what crime the government accuses me of, whatever dirt they throw at me, as long as that accusation relates to my faith, writings, commentaries and teachings, it is just a lie and a temptation of demons. I categorically deny it.
I will serve my sentence, but I will not serve the law. I will be executed, but I will not plead guilty.
Persecution Against the Church is the Wickedest EvilIn addition, I must point out that the persecution against the Lord's Church and against all Chinese people who believe in Jesus Christ is the most wicked and horrible evil in Chinese society. It is not just a sin against Christians. It is also a sin against all non-Christians. Because the government threatens them brutally and without mercy and prevents them from coming to Jesus. There is no greater wickedness in the world than this.
If this regime is ever overthrown by God, it will be for no other reason than God's just chastisement and vengeance for this evil. Because on earth, there has never been a thousand-year-old church. There has never been a millennial government. Only faith is eternal. There is no eternal power.
Those who imprison me will one day be locked up by angels.Those who imprison me will one day be locked up by angels. Those who question me will ultimately be questioned and judged by Christ. When I think about this, the Lord fills me with a natural compassion and sorrow towards those who actively try to imprison me. Pray that the Lord will use me, that he will grant me patience and wisdom, that I can take the gospel from them.
Separating myself from my wife and children, ruining my reputation, destroying my life and my family - the authorities are capable of doing all of this. However, no one in this world can force me to give up my faith; no one can make me change my life; and no one can raise me from the dead.
So, respectable officers, stop doing evil. It is not for my benefit, but for yours and that of your children. I urge you to hold back your hands, for why would you want to pay the price of eternal damnation in hell for the sake of a sinner like mine?
I will resist gentlyJesus is Christ, son of the eternal living God. He died for sinners and rose again for us. He is my King and the King of the earth yesterday, today and forever. I am his servant and I am imprisoned because of it. I will gently resist those who resist God, and I will gladly break all laws that violate God's laws.
Appendix: What Constitutes Faithful Disobedience?
I firmly believe that the Bible has not given any branch of government the authority to lead the Church or to interfere with the faith of Christians. Therefore, the Bible demands that, by peaceful means, in gentle resistance and active tolerance, filled with joy, I resist any administrative policy and legal action that oppresses the church and interferes with the faith of Christians.
I firmly believe this is a spiritual act of disobedience. In modern authoritarian regimes that persecute the Church and oppose the gospel, spiritual disobedience is an inevitable part of the evangelical movement.
I firmly believe that spiritual disobedience is an act of the last days; it is a testimony of the everlasting kingdom of God in the temporal kingdom of sin and evil. Disobedient Christians follow the example of Christ crucified by taking the way of the cross. Peaceful disobedience is how we love the world as well as how we avoid being part of the world.
I firmly believe that in carrying out spiritual disobedience, the Bible asks me to rely on the grace and resurrection power of Christ., so that I respect and do not cross two borders.
The first limit is that of the heart
Love for the soul, not hatred for the body, is the motivation for spiritual disobedience. The transformation of the soul, not the change of circumstances, is the goal of spiritual disobedience. At any time, if outer oppression and violence rob me of inner peace and endurance, so that my heart begins to stir up hatred and bitterness towards those who persecute the church and abuse Christians, disobedience spiritual fails at this point.
The second limit is that of behavior
The gospel requires that disobedience of the faith be non-violent. The mystery of the gospel lies in active suffering, even if it is willing to undergo unjust retribution, in place of physical resistance. Peaceful disobedience is the result of love and forgiveness. The cross is to be ready to suffer when there is no need to suffer. For Christ had unlimited capacity to defend himself, but he endured all humility and was hurt. Christ resisted the world that resisted him by extending an olive branch of peace on the cross to the world that crucified him.
I firmly believe that Christ called me to carry out this faithful disobedience through a life of service, under this regime which opposes the Gospel and persecutes the Church. It is the means by which I preach the Gospel and it is the mystery of the Gospel that I preach.
The servant of the Lord,
First draft on September 21, 2018; revised October 4. To be broadcast by the church after 48 hours of detention.
Pray for Pastor Wang Yi, his wife Jiang Rong, Christians at Early Rain Covenant Church, and Christians in China.
Let's not forget them.
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