As you probably already read, the police did not come over the weekend nor have they come for a second time. The church boldly had it’s normal services. There were no interruptions. Thank you for praying!
OVER THE WEEKEND
With that being said here is a run down of the events for this weekend:
Friday: I met with the guys who are in training and we decided that it was best that I resign the church as the active pastor. Even if I end of staying in the city and going back to work at the church, this would allow the church members to honestly say they don’t have a foreigner as a pastor. So Friday evening, I sent the church members the following letter of resignation:
I have been honored to be your pastor. I have seen many of you grow in the faith. Some of you I helped believe the gospel. Some of you I baptized. Some of you I helped understand the bible. Some of you I trained to preach. Together we planted a real local church.
The time has come for me to resign as the pastor of the church. The law in China doesn’t allow me as a foreigner to be your pastor. I know that we ought to obey God rather than men, and I hope that we will always do that. The Bible also gives examples of preachers moving on to other cities if they receive persecution. My continued leadership and attendance at the church will cause more problems for the church. If I resign, you shouldn’t experience those problems and can continue to build the church without hinderance.
I am praying that God will send you a pastor to help lead and guide you. I will help the church in every way possible, but I will no longer be the pastor of the church. Therefore, if the police ask if the church has a foreigner as a pastor, you can truthfully answer, “No.”
Whoever the pastor is, I will commit to training him and helping him to lead you, in the same way that I did.
I love you. Keep serving Jesus and building His church because He is worthy.
Also, two of the young men committed to leading the church and to continue the preaching and teaching until the church has a fulltime pastor (hopefully one of them with time).
Saturday: I left town and one of the guys from the church went to the police station to fulfill part of the request of the officers who came the Wednesday before. They wanted to know what we believe and wanted every who attends information. We obviously aren’t willing to give that information of everyone who attends, but we are willing to explain to them exactly what we believe. So that is what they did. At the end of their meeting, the church was given permissions to keep having services.
Saturday: The church had services with no interruptions. I was not at either of the services but in another city.
A COUPLE QUESTIONS
What does this mean? I don’t know. We are taking each day a step at a time.
But didn’t they give the church permission? Yes and no. The officer who he talked to said they could keep studying. Is there an underlying purpose for this, I hope not. But the local police station’s job is more to keep the unity among neighbors and to keep problems from arising. They don’t carry guns and they aren’t very intimidating. So the question is, what are they going to do with the information they attained? If they are required to file a report to the religious bureau, then we could have problems. That is what we are waiting to see. The religious bureau specializes in raiding the house churches and it is their job to keep the religious situation in China under control. Therefore, even if the local police don’t really care about the church, there is a good chance the religious bureau will if they find out.
What do they know about you? The local police station acquired more information about us from the talks, but nothing that gives away our identity yet. We are still praying for wisdom about our next step. Now, we are returning to our city and will continue training as we try to figure this out.
Next Step? As of now, we aren’t planning on attending any of the services but will be looking into doing something else for my family for the time being.
We still need your prayers.