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"Unlikely Hero's : Part 10" 11/14/23

Dear brothers & Sisters,

Wang Yi - Pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) in Chengdu, China - was arrested on December 9th, 2018. Dozens more from the church were detained and questioned, including Wang Yi's wife who was released without charges after several months. Elder Qin Defu was sentenced to four years in prison (he has now served his sentence and was reunited with his family). Pastor Wang Yi, sentenced to 9 years, is still in prison today. Both men were tried in secret. Wang Yi's lawyer was not allowed to see or represent him. Their crimes: "inciting to subvert state power" and "illegal business operations". 

Even now, ERCC continues to face persecution.  As recently as ten days ago more members of the church were detained. You can follow the whole story on the Facebook page: Pray for Early Rain Covenant Church. [I've attached a couple of links for those who may be interested in learning more or receiving updates].

I write about Wang Yi and Early Rain Covenant Church for two reasons...

1-  because we are taught by the Lord to Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. - Hebrews 13:3

2- because Wang Yi is an example of willingness to suffer for Christ. 

He lived the message he preached, when he said years ago,

"In the Old Testament, it is God’s sinful and rebellious son, Israel, who is taken into captivity in Babylon. In the New Testament, it was God’s sinless son, Jesus, who took the initiative to willingly be taken captive by Babylon, which is a symbol of our world. The essence of the gospel is that unless the Son of God was condemned to the labor camp, then the labor camp couldn’t be abolished. The gospel means that since the Son of God was sentenced to the labor camp, and the servant cannot be greater than the master, and the student cannot be greater than the teacher, then we are also subject to being sentenced to the labor camps in this world. In fact, we must be forced into this world’s labor camp... Missions is to preach about a labor camp that has been subverted by the power of the gospel. In other words, it is to preach about a labor camp that has already been made ineffective by the power of the gospel. Paul, while in bondage, preaches to those who are unbound to tell them that they are truly the ones who are in bondage. Paul, who is imprisoned, proclaims to the kings, the leaders, and all worldly powers that this world’s labor camp has already been abolished by the power of the cross. 2. Regardless of what happens in the future and which city you serve God’s church in, are you willing to enter that city in a manner of humility? Are you willing to be subjected to the suffering of the labor camp of this world in order to proclaim the gospel that abolishes it? ... I’m not saying that the disciples were looking to be publicly persecuted. Instead, once you realize that missions is missions in a labor camp, or missions includes suffering, you won’t be confused when you suffer in ministry."

(Quote taken from Faithful Disobedience, a collection of Wang Yi's essays and sermons)

Wang Yi understood that suffering is a part of serving Christ. He wanted all his hearers to count the cost and He himself was ready to suffer. Pray for him that the Lord will strengthen him to stand. Pray also that God will give each of us the grace to stand with Christ.

Perhaps you will not be called upon to suffer to the extent of prison for Christ. But do not be surprised if the world hates you. You cannot be a friend to the world and to God.

- Are you willing to give up your reputation to speak the truth without compromise?

- Are you willing to share the gospel even when your friends and family don't want to hear it, even if you lose relationship with them? 

Our Lord Himself said to the crowds, 

‭           Luke‬ ‭14:26‭-33‬ ‭NASB1995‬

[26] “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. [27] Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. [28] For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? [29] Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, [30] saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ [31] Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? [32] Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. [33] So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Following Him is not easy.

Will you count the cost?

Will you give up all you hold dear to gain Christ?

Such is the cost of discipleship. 

Wang Yi is counting the cost by the grace of God. 

Now may the LORD grant us also the will and the ability to follow Him, even through suffering, for without Him we cannot walk the narrow road.

Grace & Peace,

Matt

P.S. In the coming weeks, I will be doing a series on Songs of Faith. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. I'd love to hear what songs have fortified your faith.


Matthew Deneault

Pastor at Christ Community Fellowship

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