The Christians continued to worship. They gathered at a river near the closed church and in the homes of members scattered around the city. They know it’s a risk, but one church member declared, “We will not forfeit our faith.”
Such courage didn’t develop overnight. Pastor Wang Yi had prepared his congregation for trouble brewing during one of the harshest crackdowns on Christians in China in years. Forty-eight hours after his detention, a statement he wrote before his arrest appeared online. “All the ugliness of reality, with its political injustices and arbitrary application of the law, show that the cross of Jesus Christ is the Chinese people’s sole hope for salvation,” he declared. “It also shows that true hope and perfect human society cannot come about through any change in secular politics or culture—only through the forgiveness of human sin by Jesus Christ can man gain eternal life in heaven.”
‘All the ugliness of reality, with its political injustices and arbitrary application of the law, show that the cross of Jesus Christ is the Chinese people’s sole hope for salvation.’ —Pastor Wang Yi
Christians at Early Rain know that ideal circumstances and political victories aren’t necessary for living fruitful and courageous lives. As their pastor wrote, sometimes the opposite holds true: “If God decides, by way of the [Communist] regime’s persecution of the church, to lead more Chinese people to a state of despair, make them experience the disillusionment of faith, so that they will come to know Jesus, overcome hardships, and build their own church, then I am very happy to obey God’s arrangements, because His are always loving and perfect.”
Trusting God’s loving and perfect ways is the right way to begin 2019, whatever the circumstances. We remember life is short, even if we live to 87 like Ed Plowman, a beloved WORLD writer who died on Dec. 19 (see "Ed Plowman, journalist" in this issue). The 1777 edition of the New England Primer reminded children, “While Youth do cheer, death may be near.” Even today reminders surround us: Three days after Christmas, Bre Payton, an accomplished Christian journalist and a graduate of Patrick Henry College, died after a sudden illness. She was 26.
In Psalm 90, Moses asks God to “teach us to number our days,” but he doesn’t stop with a mournful prayer about the brevity of life. He ends with an energetic plea to use all those days to the glory of God: “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”