Amidst the Celebration, Don’t Forget!

Amidst the Celebration, Don’t Forget!

            The news we are getting from China is sad and disturbing.  The Chinese government continues its crackdown on churches that are “unregistered”- that is outside of direct government oversight and control.  One such church is the Early Rain Church.  Sunday, December 9th, began the crackdown.  The Pastor, Wang Yi, and his wife have been arrested and given criminal charges.  Other leaders and church members were arrested, harassed, and sometimes beaten.  This past Sunday, when church members who were barred from entering their regular gathering place met for worship in a park, they were arrested.  Even a children’s Saturday morning Bible class was raided by police and materials confiscated.  My understanding is that the Early Rain Church is not the only one that is receiving such harassment.

            This is not new.  Christians have faced various forms of persecution throughout the history of the church.  Still, it’s shocking and frightening.  I’m sure, like me, you find yourself asking the question, “Could I endure such persecution for my faith in Jesus Christ?”

            I am reminded of what we read in Revelation 6:9-11.  The Apostle John records these words for us: When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (ESV)

            While we have yet to read of loss of life in China in this particular situation, we know such losses occur in North Korea and in other nations.  John’s vision is of the suffering church crying out for justice and the vindication of God’s name.  This cry has gone out through the ages.

            When Saul was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, the risen Lord Jesus confronted him as recorded in Acts 9 and said to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  That’s a fascinating question, isn’t it?  “Persecute ME?”  Jesus so identifies with His suffering people that to persecute them is to persecute Him.

            Please pray for Pastor Wang Yi, his family, and the Early Rain Church.  Pray for relief and deliverance. Pray that our own country will use its influence on their behalf.  These are members of our family.  They are brothers and sisters in Christ.  When one suffers, we all suffer.  Let’s not forget them even in the midst of the busy celebrations of the season.  Why not join with others tonight here at HLPC at 6:30PM while we pray for them and for other needs?

Paul Bankson
pbankson@gmail.com

Paul was born and raised in Birmingham, AL and graduated from Auburn University in 1986 with a degree in Business Administration. It was at Auburn that he met his wife, Connie. They were married in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and moved to Jackson, MS where he attended Reformed Theological Seminary graduating with a Master of Divinity in 1991. Upon graduation, Paul served as a Campus Minister with RUF, the campus ministry of the PCA, at Tennessee-Martin where the Banksons lived for 5 years. They moved to Macon, GA in 1996 to work with RUF at Mercer University and then Paul joined the pastoral staff at First Presbyterian Church of Macon as an Assistant Pastor in 1999. In 2004, Paul and his family moved to Warner Robins where he served as a church planter and then organizing Pastor of Houston Lake Presbyterian Church. In December 2014 Paul completed a Doctor of Ministry degree through Reformed Theological Seminary of Orlando. Paul and Connie have three sons, Andrew (23), Stephen (20), and Matthew (15). Paul enjoys grilling, camping with his family, and Auburn sports (War Eagle!).