May 2020

Urgent appeal to fellow followers of Jesus in the USA

As the world focuses on COVID-19, with less cases in the Peoples Republic of China, harassment of unauthorized “house churches” is rising. In early May, the PRC government raided worship in a large SE city. Worshipers were forcibly taken into custody; many were injured.

What can we do, beyond praying? With China-USA tensions rising, we must not forget spiritual bonds between American and Chinese Christians. If we casually repeat or amplify political rhetoric, we may (without intending) contribute to harm. We must instead pray, speak gospel words, and practice gospel deeds.


Note these connected Biblical appeals: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (Hebrews 13:2-3)

God commands HOSPITALITY to strangers and foreigners among us. And to REMEMBER our spiritual connection with those incarcerated or mistreated for their faith.

Did the PRC cover up the Wuhan emergence of COV-19? Probably. Did the PRC use authoritarian coercion and surveillance methods to contain, then claim a propaganda victory over COV-19? Apparently. Did the PRC intentionally release COV-19 on the world. Unlikely.

But if Christians “blame China,” call COVID-19 a “Chinese virus,” or show xenophobia toward Asians among us, we will validate the PRC’s propaganda. Remember how the PRC expelled Western Christians as anti-government “foreign devils” after the 1949 revolution.

Americans distinguish “church” and “state.” But China claims that the USA (the good, bad, or ugly) is a “Christian nation.” That’s why I introduce myself to Chinese students in the USA as “an ambassador of God’s kingdom, not a promoter of American culture.”

If you follow Jesus, your ultimate citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We should be model American citizens (“render to Caesar”). But we must seek first God’s kingdom, not agendas of culture, patriotism, or nationalism. If these things (even as good gifts) are more important to us than God’s kingdom, they become our idols.

The Gospel reminds us there is only One righteous Hero — One worthy Victim in all of history … Jesus. We are not heroes or victims. We cannot justify ourselves by boasting of our accomplishments or blaming China for our failings.

When you stub your toe, or hammer your finger, your whole body feels the pain. When Americans (or, God forbid, American Christians) contribute to the “blame China” narrative, Christ’s Body in the PRC may be accused of disloyalty to their nation, or being friendly with foreigners who “hate China.”

LORD, help us! Help us to pray for our nation’s international relations. Help us to welcome and pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters. Help us remember “those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”