As I write this, I am flying at 30,000 feet on my way to a restricted nation in North Africa to meet with some of our sisters and brothers. It is an incredible honor to serve alongside people who are willing to advance the Kingdom in the most difficult places on earth.
The day before I left our offices, I met with two of my colleagues, Jonathan and Nick, who just returned from China.
(Click here to listen to their VOM Radio interview describing their trip.)
They shared that, in many ways, this year has been a tough year for Christians in China. There have been crackdowns on house church networks in several regions.
The Chinese government has expanded their efforts to "purify" the Communist Party.
Christian beliefs and practices often get in the way of that effort.
However, in many other ways, this has been a wonderful year for Christians who live and serve in China.
When we meet them, we see the joy in their eyes, and the broad smiles on their faces as they describe their spiritual journeys and the deep growth that they are experiencing.
I remember meeting a Christian inside China who shared the story of his years of imprisonment. As he told the story, he couldn't help but smile contagiously. Since his release from prison, he has been able to personally witness the impact he had on his fellow prisoners, and on the guards who were forced to listen to him singing and praying.
Like Richard Wurmbrand, this man’s years in prison were marked by incredible moments of God's light piercing the darkness.
Following Jonathan and Nick’s most recent trip, they shared an encouraging story that may help explain why the Church is growing like a wildfire in China.
As they boarded a domestic flight in China, Jonathan settled into a seat next to a young, petite Chinese lady.
As they began to taxi for takeoff, she turned to Jonathan and simply asked, “Do you know Jesus?”
Jonathan, a longtime pastor and missionary, was surprised by her question, but responded affirmatively.
She continued, “Are you a real Christian?”
During the next few minutes, she asked about Jonathan’s daily Bible reading habits, his prayer life, and even his evangelistic efforts.
After she was satisfied with Jonathan’s answers, she turned to a Chinese man on the other side of her and began to chat with him. After a few minutes, she turned toward Jonathan again and said quietly, “You should pray for him because he doesn't want to hear about Jesus.”
When Jonathan discovered that her husband was sitting on the other side of the plane, one row in front of them, he asked if she wanted to switch seats so that she could sit with her husband.
She politely declined the seat swap and Jonathan soon realized that her husband was sharing about Jesus with his seat mates.
As Todd Nettleton says in the radio interview, “If you want your church to grow, you want people like that in your church!”
Dr. Jason Peters oversees Global Partnerships and travels frequently to meet with our persecuted sisters and brothers. He has ministered in 40 countries, as diverse as Cuba, India, Sudan, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Burma, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia and Nigeria. Jason ministered as a military chaplain for more than 18 years, with assignments at the Pentagon, the US Air Force Academy and as a faculty member of the Air Force Chaplain Corps College, where he directed Crisis and Trauma training. Jason and his wife Kimberly lived overseas for several years, where two of their five children were born.