Sunday Worship: From the Epicenter of the Novel Coronavirus

Originally published by ChinaSource.

A Letter from a Wuhan Pastor

Brothers and sisters, peace be upon you:

During these past days the Wuhan pneumonia [virus] has been at the center of my thoughts and life. [I am] always watching the latest news, and always thinking about how our family and the church should face this.

As for family, I have gathered masks and foodstuffs and have ventured out of doors as little as possible. When venturing out in public I have worn a mask, but as for the rest, I have placed it in the Lord’s hands.

As for the church, the safety of the congregation, a faithful witness, the possibility that members could contract the illness, have all become a great area of struggle. It is readily apparent that we are facing a test of our faith.

The situation is so critical, yet [we are] trusting in the Lord’s promises, that his thoughts toward us are of peace, and not evil (Jeremiah. 29:11), and that he allows for a time of testing, not to destroy us, but to establish us. Therefore, Christians are not only to suffer with the people of this city, but we have a responsibility to pray for those in this city who are fearful, and to bring to them the peace of Christ.

First, we are to seek the peace of Christ to reign in their hearts (Hebrews 3:15). Christ has already given us his peace, but his peace is not to remove us from disaster and death, but rather to have peace in the midst of disaster and death, because Christ has already overcome these things (John 14:27, 16:33). Otherwise we have not believed in the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15), and, with the world, would be terrified of pestilence, and lose hope in the face of death.

Why do only Christians have this peace? Because of sin, humans deserve the trials and tribulations that come upon them, Jehovah says: the wicked have no peace (Isaiah 48:22). We were all sinners, but Christ, because of faith, took our penalty and gave us his peace. Therefore Paul says, who can bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:33). Christians may with the world face the same tribulations, but such tribulations are no longer punishment, but a new opportunity to grow nearer to the Almighty, to purify our souls, and an opportunity to proclaim the gospel.

In other words, when disaster strikes us, it is but a form of God’s love. And, as Paul firmly believed, “who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword? . . .  in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Roman. 8:35-39).

Spoken for today, Wuhan’s pestilence cannot separate us from the love of Christ; this love is in our Lord Jesus Christ. These words are so comforting for us, we have already become one body with Christ. We have a part in his sufferings, and we have a part in his glory, all of Christ’s is ours, and our all is Christ’s. Therefore, Christ is with us as we face the pestilence in this city; the pestilence cannot harm us. If we die in the pestilence, it is an opportunity to witness to Christ, and even more to enter into his glory.

Thus, my brothers and sisters, I encourage you to be strong in Christ’s love. If we more deeply experience death in this pestilence, understanding the gospel, we may more deeply experience Christ’s love, and grow ever nearer to God. Our Lord Jesus through faith experienced an incomparable suffering of death, yet God raised him from the dead, and sat him at his right hand.  (Acts 2:32-36)

If in reading these truths you still have no peace, I encourage you to diligently read the above cited scripture and call on the Lord to give you insight until the peace of Christ reigns in your heart. You must know, that this is not just an observable disaster, but even more it is a spiritual struggle. You should first wage a battle for your heart, and secondarily battle for the soul of this city.

We earnestly hope that you would know that not a sparrow falls without the will of the Father (Matthew 10:29). With so many souls facing pestilence, can it be outside God’s will? All that we are experiencing, is it not like Abraham facing Sodom, and Jonah facing Nineveh?

If God, because of a righteous man withheld judgment on Sodom, or because of 120,000 who didn’t know their left hand from their right, withheld destruction, what of the city of Wuhan in which we live?  We are clearly the righteous in this city, far more than a single righteous person there are thousands and thousands of us. Yet, may we like Lot be grieved over all those in this city (1 Peter 2:7), and like Abraham who earnestly prayed for Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33). You see, Jonah with difficulty proclaimed the gospel to Nineveh, and Nineveh repented and was saved. We are this city’s Abraham and Jonah. We must pray for God’s mercy upon this city, and bring peace upon this city through our prayers and testimony.

“I believe this is the command of God calling those of us living in Wuhan. We are to seek peace for this city, seek peace for those who are afflicted with this illness, seek peace for the medical personnel struggling on the front lines, seek peace for every government official at every level, seek peace for all the people of Wuhan!”

I believe this is the command of God calling those of us living in Wuhan. We are to seek peace for this city, seek peace for those who are afflicted with this illness, seek peace for the medical personnel struggling on the front lines, seek peace for every government official at every level, seek peace for all the people of Wuhan! And we can through online networks guide and comfort our friends and loved ones with the gospel, reminding them that our lives are not in our own hands, and to entrust their lives to God who is faithful and true.

The past few days I have received many inquiries from foreign pastors. They and the whole church are concerned for this city, even more for us; and confronting this epidemic, seek to serve the city with us.

Thus, I especially ask them to turn their eyes upon Jesus. And do not be concerned with my welfare, nor be agitated or fearful, but pray in the name of Jesus. Good hearted people are through their actions serving this city, especially the medical personnel who are risking their own lives. If they can take on such worldly responsibilities, how can we not more readily take on spiritual responsibilities!

If you do not feel a responsibility to pray, ask the Lord for a loving soul, an earnestly prayerful heart; if you are not crying, ask the Lord for tears. Because we surely know that only through the hope of the Lord’s mercy will this city be saved.

A Wuhan Pastor
January 23, 2020

Photo Credits: Featured Photo is by Bruce Hong. Photo in post is by Benjamin Chris. Both are from Unsplash. Thank you to them for the use of their photos.
Map Credit: ChinaHighlights.com

Let’s Make This Our Default Setting

 

Life can turn in a moment—one phone call. One word. One slip of your foot. One forgotten deadline. Life can feel very fragile.

That balance of bearable and unbearable circumstances is precarious.

However, we have an opportunity to do something powerful when Trouble shows up. It’s embodied in one simple statement; a declaration of faith:  I’m going to trust God, anyway.


Maybe, you’re going through some trouble right now. Have the scales tipped over to the unbearable side? If that’s the case, I want you to know that now is the time when your confession of faith in God is most important—and, most powerful!

Now, when you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel; when the only reports you hear are bad; when hope seems lost forever; when you’ve never felt more alone—this is when your faith is most challenged, and when it matters most that you press in harder than ever.

Yes, you’re going to feel scared, confused, hopeless—that’s OK. Emotions happen. Yet, even while you are feeling all those feels, your confession needs to be one of trust in the Lord.  You don’t have to feel like trusting God. Faith is not an emotion. We trust God out of reverence. It is an act of obedience and obedience always bears good fruit—the spiritual kind that makes life better!

I tell you what, no matter how dark or frightening or desperate your circumstances may seem right now, God is still bigger. God is still able. It’s none of our business how or when He fixes our troubles, but it’s our business to trust Him, anyway. He’ll take care of the rest!

So, say it out loud. Turn it into a song. Write it on paper, and tape it to your wall. Make it your Facebook status!

Come on. Say it with me: I’m going to trust God, anyway.

“Praise the Lord! For all who fear God and trust in him are blessed beyond expression. Yes, happy is the man who delights in doing His commands. He does not fear bad news, nor live in dread of what may happen. For he is settled in his mind that Jehovah will take care of him.Psalm 112:1&7 (TLB)

Praise the Lord! ❤

The Moon or The Stars

“Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

My Mother had a strong optimistic streak to her, and we could count on her for a word of encouragement anytime we needed it. There was always a Bible verse, proverb, or rhyme ready on her lips to support whatever good counsel she was dispensing, and this particular gem really captivated my childhood imagination. I loved the idea of landing among the stars! I know it is more accurate to say, “Shoot for the stars. Even if you miss, you might make it to the moon,” but the point is the same: aim high. Set goals that you know are out of reach.

Well, I am going to do that now. I can hardly articulate the goal, though, because it really is more than I have words and courage to express. Maybe, very simply, it is to just be honest and write an absolutely unfiltered (read: unedited and unpresentable) account of stuff that I think really matters to wives. I guess that is a broad enough statement. And, I know it’s not stuff that matters to all wives, but I know there is a certain population of women that could possibly benefit from reading some of this. I don’t know who they are, but I’m not really responsible for making sure they get to read it. It’s kind of like Doug’s songs. The Lord just told him to put them out there, make them available. So, that’s what we did. We founded a publishing company just to be sure they would always be available free of charge, and then he posted links all over the internet. That was a long time ago now, but people are still discovering his songs, and still being blessed. Not everyone can afford a CCLI license, or sheet music, you know? We made sure everything they needed to use his songs was there for them online. We even had a plan to ship songbooks free of charge to anyone who asked. People say folks don’t appreciate anything that’s free, but a starving person doesn’t care. We want to serve the starving.

So, that’s the story here, too. This is my moon shot. I’m setting my goal far higher than I can ever achieve, but I’m gonna go for it. Another favorite saying from my Mother was, “Inch by inch, everything’s a cinch,” and I’m going to be reminding myself of that little maxim as I go along. Ultimately, I am just going to trust that if I am hearing from the Lord, He will prove Himself as I yield to Him. I’m a nobody, you know? Seriously. There’s no reason for anyone to care about anything I have to say—but it’s a free lunch. And, I know there are hungry people out there who may just be blessed. I have spoken to enough women to know there is a need. I’m not saying the Lord has given me a private revelation (He has not), but He has taught me things in the battle that I know apply to anyone willing to apply them. A marriage is a union of two people, so it takes two people to make it work. If a man is not yielded to the Lord, and unwilling to repent, that wife is going to have to make a hard decision. However, it’s possible that the hard decision she has to make isn’t what she’s been hearing from her women friends or pastor.

Yes, I know. I just said that I might say things that contradict pastors. I know that makes me evil in some people’s eyes. We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get there. Contradicting our church mores is one way this is going to be very unpresentable. Yet, if I am faithful to share what the Lord has given me, I will be sharing truth that will be life-changing for someone. I’m confidant of that, because it has not only changed my life, but the lives of every woman who has been courageous enough to trust and obey the Lord concerning their marriage.

Bold statement. I better go now and find my battle ax. Fear is creeping around outside the door.

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