I have talked a lot about being bold and fearful and even given some of my struggle with it. I imagine that many people think that I exaggerate when I talk about how fear can inhibit a believer from being all that they can be for Jesus while living in China. So today I want to share the testimony of a missionary who was indoctrinated to be fearful and yet always knew there was something that wasn’t right. He knew there had to be more. More freedom. He wanted to thrive, but everything around him said he couldn’t. After interactions with Vision For China, he realized that if God could use little nothings like us to be bold and carry forth the mission in China, then God could also use him. This is a story of freedom–freedom from the fear of missions spread by missionaries.
“God has been working in our lives giving us a passion for boldly preaching Christ. I need to start here to explain why our approach has changed so drastically in the last year or so. From when we first arrived until a little over a year ago my family and I lived in fear of being caught spreading the gospel. I lived in fear of deportation or getting Chinese Christians into trouble. We feared every phone call, every text message, and every post on all social media venues. Even at times, we found ourselves paranoid that the Chinese government bugged our home. Honestly, it felt cool for the first little while we were here but then it just became a burden. Every time I felt the desire to tell someone even a little bit about the hope we believe in I would wonder ” does this person work for the government”? or “should I get to know this guy much more before I give him an opportunity to know who GOD is.” Then I would walk away and never see him again. Then I would continue to ask myself… “If he were a government worker did he not deserve to hear the message too. Is he less important than anyone else.” In all this, I felt defeated and felt that I would never be able to make a huge impact in China. While reading about persecution in the Bible, I would find myself saying “yeah I’m willing to die for Christ or go to prison for the sake of the Gospel.” (Philippians 1:20) I would ask myself “why do I believe I am willing to die for the Gospel when I am not willing to be kicked out for the Gospel?” What’s more important me staying here or giving more people the opportunity to hear the good news for the first time. (Romans 10:14-15) I was wondering if all my fears I was feeding with more fears were real or just illusions. I had the desire to live fearlessly and be like the examples of the Bible, but the atmosphere of fear around me kept telling me to stay undercover. Paul went into cities, preached the gospel, and the people stoned him and left him for dead. Paul then stood up and went back in, risking it all with no immediate fruit to show for it. Yes, his effort resulted in many seeds sown for someone else to harvest but no immediate fruit. Sometimes we risk it all, get hammered, and lose it all, and the possibility of losing it all so that one person may believe seems worth the risk to me.
I heard about another missionary in our city that had been in China a year less than us. He was risking it all, living a gospel-driven life of boldness, and all in the heart language. I had to see it with my own eyes. After I saw his boldness I knew this man was crazy. After witnessing his boldness in person and his online posts, I knew he would be kicked out of China in no time, in fact according to the conventional wisdom they should have deported him long ago. I did not like him because his actions challenged everything I believed about being a missionary in China. I then learned that his teammate was kicked out of China the same month that I met him. His friend was a part of starting multiple churches in another city that are still thriving today without the help of missionaries. These churches are in the process of training pastors to continue the spreading of the Gospel. I could not believe that a family could have so much success in such a short time. He is now in Taiwan attempting to do the same thing even though his heart is in mainland China. The Chinese government told him he could come back in five years.
I was intrigued and needed to learn more. I always assumed that any openness at all would get you deported immediately. After knowing and meeting many Christians from the churches of the deported missionary family, it became obvious this is not true. This guy was here long enough to start four churches in his boldness in just a little more time than we have been here, and we had not started any. I could see that the risk was real but worth it. I slowly become committed to starting a church and after losing all fear and becoming fearlessly bold I discovered the freedom and peace of Christ. This freedom and peace I mention is truly like the peace that Philippians 4 talks about that is beyond human comprehension otherwise I would attempt to describe it to you.”