Greetings from N___, China! We hope and pray this letter finds all of you well and blessed! My wife and I had a great summer being back home in the States and visiting with our family! God even blessed us to be able to be present at the birth of our second granddaughter, who was born on June 30 to our daughter and her husband!
While we were gone from our churches in China, however, the folks here did a fantastic job in carrying on with the meetings in our absence. I had arranged in advance for several outside speakers to come in, including our pastor friend, D__ Y___, from where we used to serve in J___; Bro. E___ H___, a Chinese young man I had the opportunity to help disciple years ago and who is now pastoring his own church in a sister city; and a couple of American missionary friends, who are also serving in a neighboring city. It was very encouraging to see how our church members jumped in and worked together to host the speakers, set up and take down the meetings, schedule the nurseries, provide refreshments, etc. Many of them commented after our return, “We didn’t realize how much work goes into these meetings every week!” It was a great learning experience and time of growth for them in many ways!
We had a couple of unexpected surprises come our way soon after we arrived back. At first, they seemed like setbacks, but the Lord has reinforced the truth of Romans 8:28 to us once again. The first surprise was that W___ W___, a young man who has been an integral part of our ministry and a willing disciple for the last 1½ years, decided to move back to G___, the city where he used to live. However, he has informed us since he has returned there that he feels led to start a new house church, which he is going to pastor himself, and he has stated that he feels the many things he learned from Bro. M___ and me while working with us in N___ have given him the confidence to be able to do so! Our church in N___ will be offering him some financial support in the beginning to help get things off the ground. God continues to amaze us with His plans to “enlarge our coasts”!
The second unexpected event came when our landlord informed us that he needed to move into our apartment so his daughter could attend the local neighborhood school; therefore, we had until the end of October to find a new place to live! Moving is always an ordeal, of course, but can be doubly so sometimes in China because of the nature of the way things are done here. However, our heavenly Father was not surprised by this turn of events and had the perfect place waiting for us! Within days of finding out we
needed to move, we were told by our neighbor that an apartment ONE FLOOR UP in our building was available for rent! Not only did this make moving so much easier for us, but after hosting our first meeting in the new place, our church folks have stated that they like the new house even better!! God never does anything halfway! We were even blessed to have the first week of October off from teaching at the school because it was the Chinese National Day holiday here, so we were able to get everything moved and situated within that time. Praise God!
The Lord always has so many ways of encouraging us and letting us know He still wants to use us here in N___! Within the first week of arriving back from America, one of our church members brought her 13-year-old student to my wife so she could give her the Gospel. “J___” listened very carefully and was more than eager to accept Christ as her Saviour! The same day, I was introduced to a local college student from an Eastern European nation who had very recently converted from Islam to Christianity, and I was blessed to be able to answer some of his questions about the Bible and share some wonderful truths with him from God’s Word. Also that day, another church member brought a young lady to us who was another recent convert and was seeking someone to baptize her! God’s work in the hearts and lives of the people here is very evident, and we always feel humbled and blessed to be able to help reap some of the harvest!
Please continue to be in serious prayer for the Christians and the churches of this nation. Already we have heard about several incidents of direct persecution from the new regime. House churches and Christian schools have been closed in many places, and public school children are being pressured to deny their faith in Christ. We are seeing a stronger and more obvious presence of police in our neighborhoods and have heard personal testimonies of folks being asked directly if they know of any church meetings being held in any homes. We know we are under the shadow of His wings and are not living in any kind of fear. We just would hate to see the revival that has been occurring in China in the last several years be staunched in any way. Again, we covet your continued prayers!
An addendum to the above paragraph: Since just last week, government officials showed up at our school several days in a row, asking a lot of questions of the students, Bro. W___, and the principal and taking pictures. They claim they are from the Tax Bureau, but from previous experience, we know that they could actually be the Public Security Bureau in disguise. Because of this, my wife and I have had to be extra cautious and stay away from the school for the last week. This obviously cannot go on indefinitely, so we are planning on returning next week and leaving the consequences in the Lord’s hands. Please pray for continued safety for our school and all the folks who work there, including us. Also, our visa is up for renewal within the next couple of months, so please pray that if the Lord wants us to continue serving here, everything to do with this process will go smoothly.
Thank you again for all your support, both financially and spiritually! We pray that God will continue to bless you all and your service to His kingdom!
“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)