China (MNN) — Last week, multiple members of various churches in China were stopped by the government from leaving the country. A number of those planning to attend the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in South Africa, Cape Town 2010, were stopped at their airport or even their homes.
Lausanne 2010 presents an opportunity for church leaders in over 200 nations to come together to encourage the persecuted church and unite in evangelistic efforts. Many are outraged that the delegates of China–a country where church growth seems to be exploding as of late–were unreasonably detained. (Read the story here.) Tom Henry with WorldServe Ministries points out that something like this seems to happen every time China starts opening up to the Gospel.
As often appears to be the case with the persecuted church, however, the victims have a slightly different perspective than the onlookers. While believers around the world have been rightfully thrown off by the injustice of the situation, many Chinese believers have an optimistic attitude about it.
"The one thing I have learned about the Chinese is that they totally embrace and follow a God that's all powerful, that's Sovereign, that's loving," says Henry. "And they yield these [situations] into His hands so that they have really learned, as Paul said, contentment in all things."
Henry says the church in China has come up against fire for spreading the Gospel many times in the past, so the government's actions to keep church leaders from an evangelism conference did not come as a surprise. Those who were planning to attend, however, were looking forward to Lausanne, which would have been a good opportunity for leaders to network. "Because of the nature in the church in China, there's not as much networking as there [is] in other countries where there's more of an open environment," explains Henry.
Still, the church in China is fervently holding out hope that God will open even bigger doors as a result of this apparent setback. Henry notes, "They really have seen God take things like this that are humanly disappointing and use them to really expand the church in China."
In the meantime, kingdom work will go on as usual across the People's Republic of China. Henry says that WorldServe continues to work with Chinese believers who are training up North Korean believers and sending them back to their country. Pray that their work would continue to bring the Gospel to the unreached, and pray that God would indeed use the particular situation at hand to make His name known to even more throughout China.