China went soft on churches—for four decades. Then came a different government.
Things are tougher now for all faiths, especially Christians. Not just tougher but much tougher. Members arrested. Buildings demolished. Even the Three-Self state ordained churches are under attack.
So, what happens in circumstances like these? Basically, the church adapts. I just saw a photo of a cluster of Chinese Christ-followers worshipping while hidden in a cornfield. That works in summer but not in the monsoon or winter.
Adapt or perish.
That’s the way in many countries today. But what about you and me?
Did you ever wonder what kind of leader you would be if someone stripped us of the things we take for granted?
We got a taste of this in the pandemic. Churches quickly went online. That’s adaptive. Then we cried about it. That’s not.
President Xi came into office, all smiles. He entered into agreements with the Pope and U.S. leaders which assured the protection of religion. Those agreements soon evaporated (see links below).
Christian leaders in China are currently forced to adapt in ways we don’t wish to contemplate. We even read of torture. I often wonder what is happening with friends whom I dare not contact for reasons of their safety.
On one trip to a major Chinese city, I encountered both adaptive and stuck-in-a-rut leadership.
The adaptive crew was a group of investment bankers, stockbrokers and a scientist. They came to hear about making disciples who plant churches without the benefit of seminary. The strange part of this story is that the missionaries who hosted the event expressed fear toward these “radical” people the evening before we met.
The polar opposite was a 30-something man reported to oversee more than 3,000 “underground” churches. The kind you think of when you think of China.
He created problems for the rest of us. You see, during every tea break, the missionary’s wife cornered me to tell me that my radical ideas were upsetting this guy. The underground church had long since gone above ground and planned to stay there. They hadn’t counted on President Xi.
The bankers and scientists are adaptive. They will find a way to prevail. The other guy will probably adapt in the end. He has two things going for him, the history of his forebears and a need to survive.
Back to you and me. I always wonder what I’d do in similar circumstances. Those circumstances seem to have been the lot of most believers down through the centuries.
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