It’s Time For Christians To Speak Out

By Dr. Kelli Criss

In the current political climate, American people of faith can glean some timely wisdom from the example of persecuted Chinese Christians.  Particularly, the words of Pastor Bob Fu, founder and president of the international human rights organization, ChinaAid, are poignant.   

Today’s blog, It’s Time For Christians To Speak Out, focuses upon Pastor Bob Fu’s recent interview with the Christian Post.  Pastor Fu, known as “the pastor of China’s underground railroad,” details a “pandemic of persecution” facing Christians in China. We’ll discuss the encouragement being offered to the American church by persecuted Christians in China.  It’s time to embrace God’s strength in an area of weakness that American Christians have allowed to paralyze us from speaking out about our faith to neighbors and in the public square – fearing the rejection of others.   

Paradoxically, freedom can be a vice and persecution can unencumber.   

Pastor Bob Fu  

Pastor Bob Fu is founder and president of ChinaAid.  Under the leadership of Fu, ChinaAid stands up to the Communist Party in China through its “endeavors to expose the systematic persecution, harassment, torture, and imprisonment of Chinese Christians and human rights lawyers in China.”  Furthermore, this year’s William Wilberforce Award was bestowed upon Bob Fu.  Likewise, ChinaAid received the Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy.   

“So What?” 

 Pastor Fu’s basic counsel to the American church is – “so what?”  In a recent interview with the Christian Post, Bob Fu recounts a meeting between Chinese Christian business owners and American Christian business leaders visiting China.  The Chinese Christians shared their methods for ministering within the workplace about the gospel message.  The American Christian business leaders explained that sharing their faith in the American workplace was not possible because of potential lawsuits from groups like the ACLU.  The Chinese Christians replied to their American counterparts, “So what?”   

Expanding upon the “so what?” counsel of the Chinese Christian business leaders, Pastor Fu asks the American church:  

Are we so intimidated by the culture, by the privatization of faith, by being accused of being right wing or all kinds of labels, or narrow minded? And then, we retreat from the public square, we retreat our faith . . . And are we really more fearful of the Lord than fearful of atheistic, secular culture, the pressure, the political moment? I think that is a tragedy. I think in the free world like America, I think we need to really, holistically, continuously, restore back to the spirit of the Early Church.” 

The Internationally Persecuted Church 

Pastor Fu is quick to point out that persecution of the church spans history and geography which is evident in Paul’s prison letters, the history of the Early Church, and beyond.  He explains about the Church’s persecution: 

It’s not a unique Chinese church experience. It’s happening to the churches in North Korea. It’s happening to the churches in Iran, under the extremism, militant Islamic kind of a dictatorship. So it happens in Nigeria.  And so, I think this not just the one unique experience, one country.” 

Pastor Fu’s words remind us at Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition to continue praying for persecuted communities of faith globally, and his statement spurs us to use our platform for sharing our faith boldly.  As Christ said,  

A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.  I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:32-33, New International Version) 

Like our brothers and sisters in faith around the world, we are scattered from one another, yet united by Immanuel, God with us.  Even without persecution, we can fashion our freedom into the benefit which it actually is – an opportunity to carry out redemptive ministries which share our experience, strength, and hope in Christ with colleagues and neighbors.   

“Quite Different” 

The faith community feels the pressure to avoid lawsuits and criticism from others by remaining silent about our spiritual life.  Of course, wisdom must be our guide as we relay our experiences within our sphere of influence; yet, when we see that a seeker is at some stage of readiness to hear the gospel, we challenge ourselves to speak now!  We leave you with some final thoughts from Bob Fu: 

I feel if we get back to the original, to honor the lordship of Christ, not only in a church building, not only on a religious occasion, that he is the Lord all the time. . . . So if we declare the sovereign lordship of Christ everywhere in our life, things in our church in the West will be quite different.” 

For more information about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, visit our webpage and read previous blogs.   

Note from Dr. Kelli Criss:  This blog is dedicated to my favorite missionaries to China and recognizes missionaries around the world who have been recalled to the U.S. because of the global public health crisis.  Knowing that “‘the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few,’” we “‘ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field’” (Luke 10:2, NIV).  

Additional Resources 

Entire Interview with Pastor Bob Fu 4/20/20 

 Fu and Senator Rubio on Remembering Tiananmen Square: Commemorating the 31st anniversary of the massacre   

China Removes over 250 Church Crosses in First Four Months of 2020 

Evangelism Over Isolation: The Coronavirus Provides Opportunities and Hurdles for Ministry to South Africa’s Chinese Population 

Cancelled Mission Trips Expected to Have Long-Term Fallout 

Glorifying His Name, Part III

By Dr. Kelli Criss

During the current series, we’ve considered how King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah received God’s victory over Judah’s enemies through humility, worship, obedience, and gratitude.  As we experience the global pandemic, we are witnessing God glorifying Himself.  Last week, we discussed America’s deliverance from Chinese pharmaceutical manufacturing

In today’s blog, Glorifying His Name, Part III, our focus is upon God’s delivering the people of faith from themselves and their idols and teaching us to love one another.  God is using the current crisis to deliver us from ourselves. 

“Deliver Us, Oh God!” 

The modern faith community, like the generations before it, is riddled with dependence upon ourselves rather than God.  We want to be in control.  The options for idols we seek to meet our own needs apart from God are innumerable – money, hedonism, perfectionism, people-pleasing, codependency, impurity, intellectualism, science, government, socialism, workaholism, etc.  Consider how we can worship education and human accomplishment and believe that they are our hope just as Paul once did.  

Paul’s Testimony 

Paul was a man who had achieved the highest levels of religious education as a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5, New International Version) and who was “faultless” regarding how he kept the law (Philippians 3:6, NIV).  As the archetypal “enlightened religious man,” Paul recognized the worthlessness of his own resume of religious education and behaviors:  

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Philippians 3:8-9, NIV) 

It’s noteworthy that Paul did not recognize the “garbage” that had once filled his resume until he was struck blind and gained a clear awareness of Christ on the road to Damascus.  At Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, we feel God is glorifying Himself by using the current crisis to show us the worthlessness of the idols we use to prop ourselves up. 

Chosen Instruments 

Why did God need to deliver Paul from his character defects/idols?  Certainly, it was simply God’s will for Paul to be free from self-reliance and the worship of intellectual and religious accomplishments.  Likewise, it was God’s will to deliver Paul from himself so that he could have a redemptive ministry which would serve people.  His service to others enabled people to be rescued from themselves and be made free in Christ.  When God sent Ananias to pray for Paul’s sight to return and for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit, Ananias hesitated and reminded the Lord of the severe persecution levied by Paul upon the church.  The Lord elucidated the importance of Paul’s deliverance by saying to Ananias, “‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel’” (Acts 9:15, NIV). 

Like Paul, we are being delivered from our idols so that we may carry out redemptive ministries as “chosen instruments” who will support people of faith and people who do not have a relationship with God.  We know that even during the global public health crisis and America’s civil unrest, God is on His throne and ruling over everything with a redemptive purpose.  God is for us, not against us.  God is our ONLY security, wisdom, strength, righteousness, holiness, peace, and joy in the midst of crisis. 

We thank God for all He has and will do in our world.  The faith community is rising to minister through God’s redemptive work in our own lives so that those around us may also be delivered.  

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV) 

Around the world, we’ve seen God’s “chosen instruments” at work during the current public health and economic crises offering God’s comfort through redemptive ministries.   

Redemptive Ministry in South Africa  

One example of a powerful redemptive ministry is found in South Africa.  Recent international news has featured Andie Steele-Smith, former Australian banker who now serves as a missionary in the townships of Cape Town, South Africa.  Over the last five years, his ministry has focused upon the poor and gangs in the townships or shantytowns.   Steele-Smith has led “murderers and drug lords to cooperate amid the coronavirus pandemic as a new distribution network for soap and emergency food delivery.” This ministry was desperately needed in Cape Town, which as of late May, accounted for 60 percent of the coronavirus cases in South Africa.   

Steele-Smith has seen God use the gifts of the gang members for the kingdom as they help distribute soap and food: “When people are set free from alcoholism, they still need to drink something. Gangsterism identifies the best entrepreneurs in a community. But they need legitimate enterprise so they can use their same skills and hustle for God’s kingdom and their community.” 

God is glorifying Himself around the world through servants like Steele-Smith.  During the current pandemic and civil unrest, Florida is called to serve others with the comfort and redemption God has given us.   

For more about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, visit our website and read our previous blogs

Glorifying His Name, Part II

By Dr. Kelli Criss

Our blog series about the testimony of King Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah during an impossible battle has focused upon God’s glorifying Himself through our current war against the global enemy, the coronavirus.  Last week, we considered how God has placed the home at the center of children’s education and exposed the lies of socialism to millennials during our current war on COVID-19. Today’s blog, Glorifying His Name, Part II, focuses on more examples of God’s working for the good of America and the world during the global pandemic. 

China’s Rise – Courtesy of the Clinton Administration 

In May 2000, President Clinton was hailed by the liberal media for his triumph in granting China permanent normal trading privileges.   After our government furnished these special trade privileges to China, they rapidly absorbed our pharmaceutical market as well as other manufacturing sectors like steel and aluminum.  

During the last two decades, American pharmaceutical factories have been closing.  China has strategically dismantled America’s pharmaceutical manufacturing through protecting their own singular interests as a dominant producer of pharmaceuticals.  Through government subsidies and poor safety requirements, China has inundated the U.S. market with inexpensive, unsafe drugs.  

After Clinton’s trade deal with China in 2000, we began losing pharmaceutical factories.  Until we finally lost our last antibiotics manufacturer, the Bristol Myers Squibb East Syracuse, NY factory, which stopped penicillin production in the mid-2000s.  In fact, from 1943 to the mid-2000s, the East Syracuse factory had manufactured almost 70% of the world’s penicillin.   

For too long, we have allowed China to set the rules of the pharmaceutical market so that everyone else is at their mercy.  We lost much more than jobs as American pharmaceutical factories closed.  The U.S. lost our supply of safe drugs.   

American Deliverance from Chinese Pharmaceutical Manufacturing 

Now, Senator John Cotton (R- Arkansas) and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) are calling for America to fight back against China’s dominance and establish our own secure, reliable pharmaceutical manufacturing.  Their bill, Protecting Our Pharmaceutical Supply Chain From China Act, would prohibit federal agencies and departments (i.e., the Department of Defense, Medicare, and Medicaid) from purchasing medications with Chinese ingredients by 2025.  This bill enables U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers to transition back to higher production levels over a span of years while also putting the squeeze on importers to eliminate their trade with China’s pharmaceutical industry.    

In Awe of His Goodness 

We thank God for delivering us from our adversaries like the Chinese government.  As we’ve faced the blight of COVID-19, God has not wasted any opportunity to bring deliverance to us.  Just as the people of Judah and King Jehoshaphat turned to God with gratitude for the victory He gave, we are in awe of God’s goodness, always, but especially during the current public health crisis.  The prophet Jeremiah’s words amplify God’s steadfast faithfulness toward His people:  

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”  (Jeremiah 29:11-14, New International Version) 

Join us next week, as we consider more ways that God is glorifying Himself during the pandemic.  If He delivered King Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah from hordes of enemies, then we know God will help us as we face the current enemy, COVID-19. 

To learn more about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, check out our websitesign up for our newsletter, or read previous blogs.   

Related Articles 

US Intelligence Documents Accuse China of Covering Up Coronavirus Outbreak 

Glorifying His Name, Part I

By Dr. Kelli Criss

We join the rest of the faith community in continuing to pray for peace and safety during the current public health crisis and social unrest. We pray for a clarity of vision to see what God is doing to answer our prayers for righteousness in America and for leaders to uphold Judeo-Christian values.  We want children and families to be guided by God’s principles.  We seek the defeat of socialism in our Republic.  God is answering these prayers through His favor and blessing during the current global pandemic and unrest.    

In our series about the nation of Judah’s and King Jehoshaphat’s miraculous victory and testimony during their national crisis, we have recalled God’s faithfulness to the world during COVID-19.  Last week, we considered the securing of international borders during the pandemic.  This week’s blog, Glorifying His Name, Part I, considers the insight we experience from God’s peace.  We’ll name further examples of how we see God working on behalf of humanity.  God is defeating COVID-19 just as He delivered the people of Judah during an impossible battle.   

Removing Fear  

The power in God’s victory for the people of Judah was not only in its impact upon surrounding kingdoms, but also in the way the nation’s gratitude brought them peace. According to 2 Chronicles 20:30, peace was not only around the nation, but within it: “And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side” (NIV).  After the paralyzing fear of the unknown and their powerlessness, King Jehoshaphat and his people had peace and rest.  Gratitude removes fear.  Praise and worship of God for who He is – removes fear.  Obedience in the power of the Holy Spirit removes fear.  Remembering to thank our God for His grace, favor, faithfulness, and power removes fear.   

God-centered Clarity 

As the nation of Judah and King Jehoshaphat turned their attention and meditation to God in prayer and fasting, the people stopped focusing solely upon their circumstances of being drawn into an unprovoked attack from a multinational force.  The people of Judah focused upon the Lord through God-centered praying and fasting.  The nation heard from the Lord and obeyed Him as the Holy Spirit empowered them to do.  God won the battle for the people of Judah.  Through their gratitude, God granted the people of Judah peace and removed their fear.  When fear is gone, God’s children see clearly what God is actually doing – glorifying His name.   

Educating Children within the Family  

Through the peace and subsequent clarity God has given us, the faith community is seeing God’s movement to glorify His name.  At Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, we believe God is glorifying His name during the current crisis through moving U.S. education out of the government’s hands and fully into the family’s realm.  Since March, American children have been embedded more deeply into their families where they are home-schooling and spending quality time together. Although the juggling of work and home-schooling is overwhelming for parents, we are seeing how much time together with our children offers all of us.   

Now, the textbooks of government-run schools are under even more scrutiny from parents who can identify the revisionist history and the anti-God message woven into these texts.  More time together means more opportunities for parents to model a relationship with God just through working together on life’s ordinary tasks.  After all, more is caught than taught.  Our children absorb who we are in our everyday relationship with them rather than particular “lessons” we attempt to teach them explicitly.   

Exposing Socialism’s Lies 

Millennials have supported socialist candidates like Bernie Sanders because they believe that government needs to control society to make life better for everyone.  God has blessed millennials during the pandemic by allowing them to have real experience of government control, rather than merely ideals.  Although the actions taken by governments to require citizens around the world to stay at home have been necessary, being isolated from one another by government order involves millennials’ being told to do something whether they agree or not.   

Now, millennials may better understand that more government control can border on tyranny.  Socialism is tyranny’s twin.  As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” 

Join us next week as we delve further into how God is moving during the global crisis and national unrest to glorify His name.  Visit the Florida Faith and Freedom website to sign-up for our newsletter or read previous blogs.