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.
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.
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.”
A 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).