[Funan County, China] The continued crackdown on Christianity continues in China with the levelling of a megachurch during a worship service. This was followed by the arrest of the two senior pastors, Geng Yimin and Sun Yongyao, on what seem to be made-up charges called “suspected gathering of people to disturb social order.”
According to sources, there was no effort to notify the congregation before the start of this action. Even more disturbing is that this was a government-sanctioned “three-self” church, formally allowed to exist in China from the time of Mao.
Funan Christian Church seated 3000 people. It seems to be the latest victim in the state-sponsored war on “religion.” With the building now in ruins and the pastors under criminal detention, the message is very clear – you are not free to express your faith freely in China. If you do, you will be targeted for arrest or worse.
One of the most disturbing things in this whole series of events is what seems to be a deliberate avoiding of due process. No paperwork was given to church authorities or any member of the congregation in advance of the destruction of the building, and apparently no warrants were issued beforehand for the arrest of the pastors of the congregation. The charges of disturbing the social order are clearly misplaced, because the social order that would fail to notify any group of the destruction of its facility or fail to require official authority and real cause for the arrest of its leaders clearly needs to be disturbed. Failure in either area here in the West is not only illegal, it is considered immoral and the very antithesis of the freedom we value.
Funan Christian Church is destroyed by order of the Chinese government during its Sunday worship service
Persecution of the church, is of course nothing new. We here in the West have mercifully escaped much of the violent persecution that others have faced elsewhere. However, it is foolish to think we at some point will not experience what most of the rest of the world over most of the last 2000 years has experienced. It almost seems necessary to purify the church of the nominal believers that have no real love for Christ and no desire to follow Him or obey His word. None of us want to suffer, but in the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
This verse occurs in Paul’s final letter to his son in the faith Timothy. Paul wrote this letter from Mamartine Prison in Rome. He had been arrested by Roman authorities as a Christian because of Nero’s order. Nero had burned Rome and blamed it on this problem group that would not worship him or Rome. As the chief spokesman, he was sentenced by Nero to the axe and was there in prison awaiting execution. Even Paul was no stranger to persecution.
Paul had some advice for his spiritual offspring earlier in the same letter: “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (v. 3) Later in verse 9, he uses himself as an example: “…for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned.”
In this passage, Paul reveals that no matter what happens to God’s servants, His word is NOT imprisoned. That word never returns to Him without accomplishing its purpose. Remember, our God is sovereign. There is nothing that happens to us that He has not approved and allowed for our benefit.
Today in the West, the worst persecution most of us face is social ostricism for holding to “old-fashioned” or “conservative” values. The culture around us is decaying. We are being forced to confront culture in areas like human sexuality, abortion, euthanasia, complimentarianism, and a host of other issues that Scripture defines very clearly. As believers, we must follow Christ our Master by standing for the truth. He stood for truth even when it would cost Him His life. We can be no different than Him, surely. Persecution, though not pleasant, is temporary – our Lord Jesus will settle the score when He returns. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’”