Most people do not realize that there are more real Christians in China than there are in the United States. With all the persecution that they have begun to suffer in China, the Christians there still number at least a hundred million. And, for years, they have been demonstrating what it means to follow Christ.
A recent example arrived in the form of an open letter from Pastor Tan Songhua of Cornerstone Church in Wuhan. This letter demonstrates exactly how we Christians should be approaching an outbreak like this. Not with fear, but with love and service to God.
I hope that you will be inspired by what Pastor Tan said.
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The Wuhan Coronavirus – A Wuhan Pastor Responds
YouTube shortlink: https://youtu.be/r0YwHhoYYn0
Someone once remarked to me that – should the Lord tarry – the center of Christianity will move to China. With about 10% of all Chinese identifying themselves as Christian, they are probably the largest body of serious Christians in the world. No one in China identifies themselves as Christian, unless they are willing to pay a very high price for doing so.
This means that every disaster in China will have a Christian response. One of those responses was shared by a friend, who saw an open letter written by a pastor at the center of the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak. Unfortunately, the original source of the English translation of this letter, claimed that the pastor was anonymous. This was definitely not true, and I am sorry to see another example of Fake News from a Christian website.
Pastor Tan Songhua of Cornerstone Church in Wuhan, deserves public recognition and praise for his fearless stand for Christ in the midst of persecution, and for his faithful service to God in the middle of this epidemic. His words show us how all Christians should act during fearful times.
So, I hope that you take this moment to hear what our brother has to say. You will be blessed by his words.
NOTE: This is our best translation of a letter written by a Wuhan pastor. The colorful and idiomatic language has a strong regional context and might not have translated well into English. Any theological issue that you might have with this letter, might be due to our translation, and not the original text.
Peace to brothers and sisters:
In the past few days, Wuhan pneumonia has almost become the center of my thoughts and life. I always looked for updates, and always thought about how my family and the church should deal with it.
As for my family, I stored some masks and food. I tried to go out as little as possible, wear a mask when I went out, and left the rest to God.
On the church side, the safety of meetings, the witness of our faith, and the possibility of members contracting this disease – all pose great challenges to us. Obviously, we are facing a trial of our faith.
Even though the situation is so grim, however relying on God’s promise, we believe that what he gave is the mind of giving peace, not the mind of disaster (Jer. 29:11). He allows the trial to come to us, not because he wants to destroy us, but to build us up. Therefore, Christians should not only suffer with the people in this city, but also have the responsibility to pray for this shaken and scared city and bring to them the peace of Christ.
First of all, let the peace of Christ reign in our hearts (Col. 3:15), and let the peace of Christ take control of our hearts (Col. 3:15, new Chinese translation). Christ has already given us His peace, but His peace is not without suffering and death. We have His peace in suffering and death, because Christ has overcome these for us (John 14:27, 16:33) . Otherwise, what we believe would not be the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15), and we would panic in this epidemic and despair in the face of death, just like the people in this world.
Why should only Christians have such peace? Because of sin, a man is worthy of any affliction that comes. Jehovah says: The wicked will not have peace (Isa 48:22). We were all wicked, but because of our faith, Jesus bore the penalty of sin for us and gave us His peace. So Paul said, who can accuse God’s chosen ones? God called them righteous (Romans 8:33). Christians face suffering like the rest of the world, but this suffering is no longer a judgment for them, but an opportunity to draw close to God, cleanse the soul, and witness the gospel.
In other words, when suffering comes to us, it is a way that God loves us. And just like Paul said, who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can suffering? Can difficulty? Can persecution? Can hunger? Can nakedness? Can danger? Can a knife? … But, in the Lord who loves us, we have more than victory in all these things. Because we deeply believe that whether it is death, or life, or an angel, or a demon, or a powerful entity, or any present thing, or things in the future, or if its high, or if it is low, or other creatures, None of them can separate us from the love of God; this love is in our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8: 35-39).
Applying this to our current situation, this epidemic in Wuhan city cannot separate us from the love of Jesus Christ either. This love is in our Lord Jesus Christ. Such words comfort us very greatly. We have become one with Christ. We take part in His suffering, we also take part in His glory. Everything of Christ becomes ours, and everything of ours becomes Christ’s. Therefore, Christ is in this city, with us to face this epidemic. The epidemic cannot hurt him, and it will not hurt us. If we die in this epidemic, we still are witnesses for Christ and have the opportunity to enter into His glory.
Therefore brothers and sisters, I encourage you to be strong, relying on the love of Christ. If we, in this epidemic, experience death more deeply and understand the gospel more deeply, we will then experience the love of Christ more deeply and be closer to God. Just as our Lord Jesus, through faith experienced cruel death, but God raised him from the dead and set him on his right hand side (Acts 2: 32-36).
If after reading all these truths, you still do not have peace, I encourage you to read the scriptures listed above with all your attention and ask God to make you understand until the peace of Christ rules you. You must know that this is not only a visible disaster, but also an invisible spiritual battle. You must fight for your heart and then for the soul of this city.
I also hope that you will know that a sparrow needs God’s permission to fall to the ground (Matt. 10:29). Shouldn’t this be more true for the many lives in Wuhan that face this epidemic? Isn’t what we are experiencing like what Abraham faced with Sodom and like what Jonah faced with Nineveh?
If God would not destroy Sodom because there were righteous people, and not destroy Nineveh [where] there were more than 120,000 who could not distinguish between their left and right hands. What about Wuhan, where we are? We are clearly the righteous in this city. And not just one, but there are at least tens of thousands who are righteous. Let us all be as sorrowful as Lot for our cities (1 Pet. 2: 7), and pray for Sodom as earnestly as Abraham (Gen. 18: 23-33). You see, Jonah reluctantly preached the gospel to Nineveh, and the city of Nineveh repented and was saved. We are the Abraham and the Jonah of this city. We must, for Christ, pray for this city to reconcile with God, and for this city, call out for God’s mercy, so that the whole city will receive peace through our prayers and witness.
I believe that this is the mission for which God has called us to live, in Wuhan. We must pray for peace for this city, peace for infected patients, peace for the medical staff at the front line, peace for government staff at all levels, and peace for all people in Wuhan! We can also use the gospel to guide and comfort relatives and friends through the Internet, reminding them that their lives are not in their own hands, that they must entrust their lives to the faithful God.
In the past few days, I have received greetings from many [Chinese] pastors outside of Wuhan. They and their churches care about this city, and even more about us. They are facing this epidemic with us and serving this city with us.
Therefore, I strongly invite you to turn your eyes to the Lord Jesus, and no longer worry about your safety, and no longer lose heart, but pray in the name of the Lord Jesus. The kind people of the world are using their actions to serve the city, especially the medical staff who risk their lives. They are carrying worldly responsibilities, shouldn’t we bear even more spiritual responsibilities!
If you do not have the burden of prayer, ask the Lord to give you a heart that loves souls and prays earnestly; if you do not cry, ask the Lord to give you tears. Because we deeply know that only the mercy of the Lord is the salvation of this city.
January 23, 2020
[Translation by Mrs. Little]
Pastor Tan is just like you and me. The only difference is that he living out a real faith that we could only hope to have. His has been challenged and is being challenged. He has been through and is going through great trials, and he is immensely stronger in his faith because of that.
You need a faith, like the one that Pastor Tan has. And, the time to start laying a foundation for that faith is now.
The choice is yours:
Do you cave in to fearfulness and terror?
– OR –
Do you accept that you have been called to this place and time, to do God’s will and show the world what a child of God is REALLY like?
The fear-mongers and clickbait hoaxers want you to live a life of fear and terror. God wants you to live a life of faith and service to Him.
Which will YOU choose?
The irony is that fear and terror actually leads to a shorter, more difficult life. So, even if your faith is small or non-existent, you would do well to live a life without such panic, but I’m not here to help you live an empty life. I’m here to help you build a life that is eternal with eternal blessings.
If you don’t know where to start, then open your Bible. Read from Genesis to Revelation. Do it in a year. Every year. Invest at least some of your life in reading the WHOLE Bible. All of it. Then, constantly seek for God’s direction in your life. As you invest your life in serving God, the Holy Spirit will guide you to the right place and time.
As you fulfill your commitment to serving Him, God will make sure that your service will be meaningful and blessed. You literally cannot go wrong in doing your best for God. It just isn’t possible. And, I can promise you that serving God will lead you to places that you never, ever expected to see.
I truly hope that you’ll be ready for this
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished. – Proverbs 22:3
If you find a flaw in my reasoning, have a question, or wish to add your own viewpoint, leave a comment on the website. Your input is truly welcome.
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