ChinaSource encourages readers to connect with believers in China through prayer. A long-time ChinaSource volunteer invites us to lift up in prayer church leaders who are often under tremendous pressure.
The privilege of intercessory prayer is one of the greatest blessings that we have as believers. I wholeheartedly agree with Shuya Kim concerning the importance of the ministry of presence for expatriates seeking to serve China, but the reality for most of us is that we will not be able to live in China at this time. Yet, through the privilege of intercessory prayer, I believe that we can continue to journey with church leaders in China.
The ministry challenges that Chinese pastors face are discussed in depth in the articles of this issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly (CSQ), so I will focus on praying for their personal walk with the Lord. I often allow Paul’s prayers for the church to guide me, praying particularly that they “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Colossians 1:10; see similar terminology in Ephesians. 4:1; Philippians 1:27 and I Thessalonians 2:12). Interestingly, all the churches for whom Paul prays this prayer were facing some type of persecution or theological challenge. Thus, I feel that it is appropriate to let Paul’s prayers guide ours as we pray for Chinese church leaders.
First, let us not forget that they face the same challenges as pastors in other places. Here are some examples from the small sample of pastors whom I know: a wife battling cancer; a child facing potential blindness; a child who is not walking with the Lord; and, unfortunately, numerous instances of painful conflicts among co-workers in the church. Let us pray that as they face these challenges, that they will not waver in their faith, but rather demonstrate “endurance and patience with joy” (Colossians 1:11).
Second, we should be aware of challenges that are unique to the current Chinese setting. Other articles in this CSQ will help you understand many of the issues, so let me emphasize just two. To me perhaps the most important is that the pastors truly have their identity firmly rooted in a clear understanding of the gospel and an increasing knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10). Chinese society in general does not understand the role of a pastor. At best, people associate it with the role of monks or martial arts experts, people who have relatively little impact on society. There is often very little respect for these roles. In a society where there is so much emphasis how one contributes to society, facing this lack of understanding and respect can be hard. We need to pray they remember that they are important and precious in God’s sight.
A second major issue concerns family challenges. Although the one-child policy has been discarded, its impact often makes adjusting to marriage harder. In addition, many pastors and their spouses came to faith after they were married and may have bad habits that need to be unlearned. Caring for elderly parents is even more challenging when there are no siblings to share the load. Their children’s future is another huge stress. When pastors face scrutiny by the government, this can impact the future choices available for their children. Some children embrace these challenges; others rebel. So, let us be faithful to journey with these precious servants of Jesus, praying that they walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.