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June 4, 2012

Persecution Causes Church Growth

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The following devotional is from the wonderful book called Extreme Devotion.  If you do not yet have a copy of this inspirational book, you may purchase it here.

Songs of praise filled the crisp air. “It is four in the morning. Where are they coming from?” one man almost laughed in amazement.

    “The harvest is plentiful, my friend. It is going to be a long day but a good one for the kngdom,” said the pastor as he smiled. “Let’s get to work.”

The sea of believers at the river seemed to have no end. The pastor spoke compassionately as he baptized them, each with hands lifted up to a new life in Christ. He and his associates baptized eleven hundred new believers that day.

    God is moving on China in a powerful way. Believers are being added to the fold daily. Six years ago, in a city of Northern Shanxi, several hundred Christians attended house churches. Now that number has grown to seventy thousand. In another city of fifty thousand, there is heavy persecution, yet three thousand devoted believers meet every week in underground churches.

    One pastor commented insightfully, “We believers are stronger than before. The more they want to pull down the banner of Christ, the higher it flies.”

    For decades, the church in China has suffered consistent persecution. The government instituted a “strike-hard” policy in a vain effort to curb the growth. Today’s membership in the underground church is considerably higher than the membership in the Chinese Communist Party!

Growth is a sign of health. Healthy churches grow just as healthy plants grow. Nutrients, light, water, and good soil are all requirements for a healthy plant. In the same way, churches need specific ingredients to grow. One of the most unexpected ingredients for healthy church growth can be a fair amount of persecution. Persecution purifies the believers and makes them appreciate the value of their faith. As the pastor in this story illustrates, the more a church is persecuted, the more its members rise up as a testimony to the steadfastness of Christ. Are you bitter or better because of persecution? Are you using it to your advantage to grow the kingdom?