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Chinese police raid Early Rain Reformed Church in Chengdu China on Saturday, May 13, 2018

Saturday, May 12, was the 10th anniversary of China’s deadly earthquake that took the lives of more than 70,000 people when whole towns and villages were crushed in China’s Sichuan province. So this was a time of renewed mourning for hundreds of thousands who lost family and friends. But it was also marked by escalating levels of persecution by the Chinese government against the church–including the arrest and detainment of my friend and partner in the gospel, pastor Wang Yi.

Steve and Pastor Wang Yi in 2017

He was planning to have a memorial service at his church, Early Rain Covenant Church on Saturday morning in Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province. But on Friday night, police detained Wang Yi and the head of their Christian college for about 24 hours, until Saturday night. The charge against him by the police was “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” –often used now to silence any dissent against the Chinese government.

The Communist Party was concerned that any public gatherings on Saturday might rekindle widespread angry questions about why so many new buildings, including new schools, collapsed in the earthquake killing thousands of adults and children. Instead, the Chinese government was using the date to praise China’s rapid reconstruction of the devastated towns and villages.

Pastor Wang Yi arrested Saturday, May 13

On Saturday morning more than 50 police returned to arrest and take away more than 200 people, including college students and children, who arrived for the memorial service. The people were taken in buses to several police stations around the city. The police also raided their church and school to remove Christian books (estimated 50,000 books) from their library and documents from their offices. After loading everything in boxes they took them away in large trucks.

I was reminded of the bible verse: “You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one (Heb. 10:34).”

Persecution is not new to Wang Yi, who is also a highly respected intellectual and human rights lawyer—with articles about him in New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, World Magazine, etc. He has been an outspoken advocate for human rights, including freedom of religion and freedom of assembly. So, he has had many run-ins with Chinese government officials.

The increased government restrictions on churches under president Xi, beginning in February 2018, were expected by Wang Yi and others to increase persecution. After he was released from custody on Saturday morning, Wang Yi acknowledged these new levels of heightened persecution, saying “The religious case of the Early Rain Covenant (church) has begun.”

Pastor and human rights attorney Wang Yi preaching

Some understandably ask, “Why would Wang Yi continue to take this kind of public stand for justice and human rights when he knows the inevitable consequences of persecution?” And, “Knowing this kind of response from the government was likely, why did he continue to plan this assembly by his church members yesterday?”

Imagine asking Martin Luther King Jr. the same questions. King believed God was calling him to take a stand in his generation for justice and human rights. He knew the price of suffering that he and many others would experience. He also knew that if he and others were not willing to take such a stand, the public was unlikely to know and his nation was unlikely to change. The New York Times article on the persecution of Wang Yi and his church yesterday raised worldwide awareness. I’m reminded of the famous adage, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.”

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.”

Members of Early Rain Covenant Church in China assemble for worship and prayer.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matt 5:10-12).

“If one member suffers, all suffer together.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

The apostle Paul reminds us how we should see such suffering of other Christians, when he writes: “If one member suffers, all suffer together (1 Cor 12:26a).” So, please pass on this prayer request to others. Thank you for your continued prayers for our dear brothers and sisters being persecuted in China.

For the King!

steve

PS: Here’s the link again to the New York Times story on this yesterday:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/12/world/asia/china-pastor-detained-sichuan-earthquake.html  And you can read more about Pastor Wang Yi and other key leaders in the underground (unregistered) church movement in China in Ian Johnson’s book, The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao.

Click below to watch our year-end ministry update video (1:50)

Steve Childers preaching in one of the most influential, underground churches in East Asia

Learn What God Did Through Pathway Learning in 2017 Below

The underground church in East Asia is facing increased persecution at frightening new levels.

While I (Steve Childers) was training church leaders recently, I heard first-hand accounts from leaders about their immediate family members being taken into custody from their homes and forced to undergo sterilization in a local hospital. And I just received an email from a former student serving there. He reports that one of his most faithful church members was just taken into custody and placed in an overcrowded, prison-style “re-education camp” known for brainwashing and terrible conditions from which many are never released.

He asks us to pray:

Will you please stand with us in prayer for the millions of people we serve who are helpless- humanly speaking–facing oppression and injustice and sorrows with severe intensity right now?…Please pray for her (church member taken into custody) to be unafraid, as she wants to be, in confidence that Christ is with her. May she be rooted in strength and supernaturally bold to proclaim and display Christ in her life.

By investing in Pathway Learning, you can help thousands of underserved church leaders, like these, develop churches that transform lives and communities in East Asia and around the world! Learn more about how you can help make a difference in East Asia and around the world in 2018 below:

2017 East Asia Project Report: New Doors Opening!

Our recent major breakthrough in East Asia we’ve only dreamed about until now!

We’ve finally learned how to train indigenous “leaders of leaders” to teach all our courses without the internet or cell service!

The breakthrough we’ve only dreamed about for years, finally happened for first time when I was training leaders in the underground church in Asia recently. What happened? We finally learned how we can train indigenous “leaders of leaders” how to teach all our courses without the internet or cell phone service! Read on to learn why this is so significant.

More than 1000 people reported taking our first course in the underground church.

Spiritual Formation for Leaders, our first Mandarin course launched in East Asia, is reported to have already been completed by 1500 church leaders in the underground, house church movements in East Asia—all by word of mouth. For a closer look, read on:

Our courses focus on more than a leader’s mind and skills–but also their heart.

If you look closely above, you’ll see this is one of the videos from our Spiritual Formation course in Chinese and English. In this video you can see I’m quoting Tim Keller on gospel repentance–with Chinese sub-titles.

Underserved church leaders include lawyers, educators, and business leaders.

These are some of the under-resourced church leaders we trained in the underground church in East Asia. They are in desperate need of training to develop churches that transform lives and communities.

Why a USA pastor will not pray for the underground church leaders’ request

After spending 3 days teaching 22 underserved church leaders in the underground church, American pastor, Wayne Cordeiro, said he “fell in love with them.” Before leaving, he asked them, “How can I pray for you?” They responded, “In America you can gather like we are now without any fear. Will you pray that one day we will be just like you.” Wayne responded, “I will not do that.” They asked him “Why?!” He responded,

Because you guys rode a train for 13 hours to get here. In my country if you have to drive more than an hour, people don’t come. You sat on a wooden floor for three days. In my country if people have to sit more than 40 minutes they leave. You sat here for 3 days without air conditioning. In my country if it’s not padded pews and air conditioning, people often don’t come back. In my country we have an average of 2 bibles per family and we don’t read any of them. You hardly have any bibles, and you memorize them from pieces of paper. I will not pray that you will become like us. But I will pray that we will become just like you.

After I watched this video, I thought of another contrast I observed firsthand recently while serving this same underground church. When they gathered to worship and hear me preach, they first dropped down on their knees, some looking like Muslims face down on the floor, crying out to God for help and asking him to glorify his name and advance his kingdom through their lives (photo below), In America, if we gather for worship, our prayers are normally very brief, comfortable and self-serving.

Extended times of prayer as Christians gather for worship in the underground church.


Beyond East Asia to the World in 2017! 

By God’s grace, and with your support, Pathway Learning is now helping more church leaders develop churches with effective ministries of evangelism, discipleship and community transformation than ever before.

More than 400 church leaders have already registered for Pathway Learning courses from more than 20 countries, representing 150 cities, and 4 languages. Using our innovative online and onsite platform, we can now bring affordable, practical, seminary-level courses to church leaders where they live, in their language, and adapted to their culture.

Using our innovative online and onsite platform, we can now bring affordable, practical, seminary-level courses to church leaders where they live, in their language, and adapted to their culture.

In 2017, we launched new initiatives in East Asia, West Africa, Japan, Western Europe, and North America. And we’re looking for partners to help us in 2018

This year, in partnership with indigenous denominations, mission organizations, and schools, we launched several new Pathway Learning projects–including not only,

  • The East Asia Project (above): in the underground church facing persecution, but also
  • The West Africa Project: Among the poorest of the poor on earth,
  • The Japan Project: In one of the most unreached developed nations,
  • The Western Europe Project: Where new movements are beginning in Italy, and
  • The North America Project: where the USA has become a new mission field.

Why you should invest financially in Pathway Learning

By investing in Pathway Learning, you are helping underserved church leaders develop churches that transform lives and communities around the world in 2018.

Few investments are likely to pay higher, more lasting returns. That’s because a healthy, gospel-centered church is the most effective evangelism, discipleship, and mercy/justice ministry under heaven. Your financial investment enables Pathway Learning to provide education pathways for underserved church leaders to start, develop, and multiply gospel-centered churches around the world.

Few investments are likely to pay higher, more lasting returns. That’s because a healthy, gospel-centered church is the most effective evangelism, discipleship, and mercy/justice ministry under heaven.

Thank you for your desire to partner with Pathway Learning in our global outreach in 2018. Your tax-deductible gift today will help make a significant difference in the world.

FOR THE SAKE OF THE NATIONS,

 

 

 

 

The evening immediately after RC Sproul died, John Frame writes about his earliest memories of RC, starting back when they were young men from Pittsburgh. Frame expresses his great admiration for RC and his ministry, and grieves over the “wretched boundaries” that kept them apart, as he prays for RC’s family and loved ones.

Both of us were profoundly influenced by John Gerstner. RC went to Pittsburgh Seminary to study with Gerstner; I went to Westminster to study with Gerstner’s teachers. But I visited Pittsburgh Seminary a few times. Once in Gerstner’s class, there was a young fellow who dominated the class discussion. A friend later introduced the student to me as “Bob” Sproul. Later that year I visited the Wheaton Philosophy Conference, and again there was Bob, going at it with the other conferees.

Those meetings were sufficient to pick up my ears when I heard Bob’s name. I remember hearing of him working with Jerry Kirk in Cincinnati, teaching at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, and other ministries. Then came the Ligonier Valley Study Center. I spoke at one of the early conferences— on inerrancy— and for the first time I was able to say I knew RC— formerly Bob.

We could have been good friends, I think. We were the same age, Pittsburghers, Calvinists, and most of all disciples of Jesus Christ. But alas, we belonged to different clubs. I followed Van Til, Gerstner’s teacher, but Gerstner did not follow Van Til, and RC followed Gerstner. I always felt his heart and mine were in the same place.

We could have been good friends, I think. We were the same age, Pittsburghers, Calvinists, and most of all disciples of Jesus Christ. But alas, we belonged to different clubs.

From time to time I saw, or thought I saw, hints of Van Tillian presuppositionalism in RC’s writings. I think of his exegesis of Rom. 1, which was very much the same as Van Til’s. And he once, at Westminster, described himself as a “proto-suppositionalist.” I took that to mean that whatever you think about apologetic method Scripture must always have the final say. I too am a protosuppositionalist. And in the final analysis that’s all there really is to presuppositionalism.

But RC was nevertheless in one club, and I was in a different one. So we never actually had a good talk, even about old times in Pittsburgh. But I greatly admired dear RC, and I ranked him as the best communicator of Reformed truth in my time.

So now I lean over the wretched boundaries between our respective clubs, and I pray God’s comfort in Jesus to his family, his church, and his great movement.

So now I lean over the wretched boundaries between our respective clubs, and I pray God’s comfort in Jesus to his family, his church, and his great movement. And I pray God’s prosperity on all of these wonderful brothers and sisters. For our love far transcends the boundaries of our clubs.