Our “15 Days of Prayer” effort begins on February 5 and will continue through February 19..
In preparation, we are sharing several short articles about Christianity in China each Monday. The believers in China need prayer. So do the 1.2 billions souls there who are not Christians. So do the missionaries that work there as they try to avoid the attention of the government.
A huge issue
A husband, wife, and their one-year-old son came to the apartment where my fellow professor and I were staying while we visited this Chinese city. They had had some passing contact with the Christian group that was hosting us. But there was an issue. A huge issue.
The husband told us his story. He spoke in halting sentences. “I tried my best to care for my family,” he said near tears. His head bowed under the shame his shoulders seemed to carry.
“I invested our savings. I thought my family would see great benefit. But now all that money is gone. And we are about to lose our property. I was cheated.”
Disgrace, anger dispair
“I am so angry,” he said with a shudder. “I have dreamed about killing the thieves who put me in this situation. I’ve planned how I could get away with it.”
“I have brought disgrace on myself and on my wife and children. I have lost all hope. I have thought about how to kill myself. I’ve tried to kill myself. But my friends have gathered around me. They stay in daily contact. They tell me, ‘Don’t do it.’”
“Can you help me with these feelings?”
Our new friend was struggling with a financial situation that has swallowed increasing numbers of Chinese. As the economy in China has slowed, many have lost their jobs; many others have fallen victim to shady investment schemes. Unfortunately, ending one’s life is often seen as the solution. There are over 300,000 suicides in China annually, China accounts for more than 30% of the world's suicides.
Love, joy, peace
“My friend,” I responded, “we are so sorry to hear about your situation. How frustrating this must be for you. But I have such good news! God’s love for you is greater than your debts. God’s love for you is greater than your shame. God’s love for you means that even now you can have hope – and even joy.”
In a silent but urgent prayer, my 316NOW traveling companion and I pleaded with the Spirit for the words that would break through this man’s depression and pain. We spoke to him about the Savior who died for him and rose again. We witnessed to him about God’s unwavering commitment to love him, even though he doesn’t deserve it.
Smiles, relief, baptism
By the end of the conversation, our new friend was smiling. We exchanged manly hugs. His wife’s face beamed with joy and relief. And they requested that we baptize their son.
Before they left the apartment, we reemphasized the importance of large doses of God’s Word in our friend’s life. “Stay close to the Christians in this group. And come to worship,” we urged.
“I’ll try my best,” he said.
We met this man on Wednesday. On Sunday he came to worship. He wore a broad smile. And he brought his four-year-old son to be baptized.
God is greater. (For more information about 15 Days of Prayer tap here.)