THE REPORT OF THE PERSECUTED CHURCH:
The Communist government under China`s new president Xi Jinping aims at controlling religious activities. While in most regions in China, Christian activities have been watched under careful eye rather than controlled, the unregistered house churches could be affected by a program started to eradicate so-called “evil cults.” Concerning the ethnic Han churches, some observers speak of three kinds of churches: the “black” ones which are illegal and which the state is fighting against (for example Vatican loyal Roman Catholics), the “red” ones which are state-approved and controlled and the “grey” ones which are not registered, but tolerated, and which form the majority of the Christians.
In the video below, Pastor Wong has experienced persecution firsthand in house churches. He thinks persecution is a test from God which separates the true Christians from those who are not. He believes for those who are truly God's, it makes them stronger. Persecuted Christians, no matter what country they are from, do not ask us to pray that persecution would end, but rather ask us to pray that they stand strong through the persecution. They do not wish to be delivered from the persecution, but rather ask us to pray that they would be able to overcome the trials that they are facing in a way that is honoring to God. A Christian widow from Iran said:
"I only had hatred in my heart for my enemies who had murdered my husband. But one day a miracle happened. God taught me how I could love my enemies… I had been praying for this, even though on the deepest level I didn't want it to happen. Gradually, through a process of ups and downs, God answered this prayer."
The only way we can get through extreme hurt is by forgiving people as Christ did; with unfailing love.
"And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments".
Romans 12:14 AMP
"Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them".
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good".
QUESTIONS FOR DEEPER REFLECTION:
1. An Egyptian Christian reflected on the way he was treated when he converted to Christ: "In great suffering you discover a different Jesus than you do in normal life… Pain and suffering bring up to the surface all the weak points of your personality. In my weakest state, I had an incredible realization that Jesus loved me even right then." How has Jesus loved you when you have encountered great suffering?
2. How can we relate to others' suffering the way Christ relates to us?
ASK GOD: to reveal areas where you need to relate to the suffering of others and to show you ways to overcome evil with Good!
God I want to discover the 'real Jesus' the one Your scriptures tell me about. Help me to love others the way you have loved me and through the weakest places, through my own inabilities, help me to encounter a true unfailing love for my enemies. (Insert any additional) In Jesus Name, Amen.