VBC Thursday Evening 09-06-18
Open your Bible to Matthew chapter 16 Matthew chapter 16, and I just want to thank you for the opportunity to be able to speak and share a little bit about China what God has been doing in China and tonight going to trial something a little bit different going to tell you some stories coming from a different angle of the persecution that we've experienced while we've been on the field.
On Sunday going to be telling some salvation stories and how God has changed some people's lives. But this evening. I want you to see a truth in the Bible and I want you to see how that truth has been true as we have been working in China and Matthew chapter 16 verse 18. The Bible says. Since Thou Art Peter and Upon This Rock I will build my church and the Gates of Hell shall not Prevail against it and we know know this verse and we see this verse and we read this verse in sometimes in trying to understand it.
We Overlook the Simplicity of I think what the verse is kind of trying to tell us here. And as you look at the verse and seeing what he's trying to say, it says Upon This Rock I will build my church and the Gates of Hell shall not what shall not prevail. So one of the greatest characteristics as we get introduced to what the church is going to be is the church is going to be triumphant the church no matter what happens.
The church is going to Triumph in this world that Jesus is going to have a church no matter what happens. And as you look here in the people look at different parts and try to understand what everything is saying here in the verse. And simply he's looking at us and saying look, I'm Jesus. I'm coming.
I'm going to build a church and it's going to be triumphant. It is going to go forward no matter what happens. And so persecution is going to be a way of life for the Christian persecution is going to be against the church in about every single age as the church was started and he's saying here look he says even the gates of hell.
Well, simply represents it the place that holds the human soul prisoner, you know death is something that is strong and in nobody really overpowers death. You don't come back from the dead but Jesus says that not even that is going to overcome the church. So not even death. Will overcome the church but Jesus will overcome death by his resurrection.
He knows the plan. He knows the strategy that he's putting in place. And so he knows that even if they persecute the church, even if they kill us, even if martyrdom comes against the church the church is going to continue to go forward and it's not going to stop Jesus Will triumphantly build his church in this world, and it will never be overpowered or cease.
Exist because of persecution and martyrdom praise the Lord now, let's look at China China is a country of 1.4 billion people and we arrived in China in August of 2010 and we arrived there and we start learning the language and as soon as we got in the country, we didn't get persecuted not know sometimes people think when they when you hear about China there's a lot of things that you can't do.
And as we were on deputation people going to come and tell us they would say Mark you you're on the internet your name says mark and it says you're a missionary to China. And as soon as you get to the Border people are going to arrest you for being a missionary one person called the church and talk to Pastor Gardner and they said pastor Gardner.
They said I can't tell you my name. I can't tell you who I am. But I work for the American government and he says I want to talk to you about one of your missionaries and his name is. In he's going to China and I have some Insider information and China's downloading all this information from the internet.
And as soon as he gets there he's going to be arrested in all these different things and he wouldn't tell us his name or what church he went to or anything, but we got this phone call. It was so we kind of had this mindset that hey maybe there's going to be some persecution when we get there and we arrived in there was nothing going on.
There is no persecution. People are happy to see us. No, I didn't go into custom say hi when I was marked wholesome Church playing missionary, but we arrived and we were there but we knew that persecution was a promise for anybody who follows Christ Jesus so we knew. There was going to be some times that most likely that would pop up where we would be persecuted and one of the things that I learned is that I had to learn to be obedient.
I couldn't let those fearful thoughts about persecution. Keep me from doing what God wanted me to do a year after we were there in August of 2011. And we were there working to Jake taulbee and we were in one of the churches and we had rented a daycare on Sunday morning and Jake had come back. I think for a furlough he wasn't in the country and we were meeting we are having service and everything is going fine.
When the Chinese preachers he walks up to the pulpit and he starts preaching and all sudden from the back doors open up and somebody says hey it's not. Nobody looks around now. Listen when they first came in as soon as I open the doors, I didn't say anything immediately and I was sitting up here in the front.
I had a suit on I was sitting there and I look back and I see people coming there. I was like praise the Lord look at those visitors coming in. I was like, honestly God, I was like man, they're just like people getting here late. They finally found the church and they come in they start yelling. I was like, okay.
This is not the visitors that we wanted. And they come in and it was people from the local police station from the religious Bureau. They're in China and they come in and they stopped the service and they tell the foreigners to go to one side. There's some of us say that we're learning Chinese at the time.
He told the Chinese to go the other side and the police officer comes around to the front declares that the service is illegal and has to be. And eventually they take the Chinese there's three Chinese pastors and training take them into the police station for questioning and they come over to us foreigners and we had only been there a year and he comes over and they asked us a question and they brought a translator.
So apparently they knew that there's going to be foreigners there. And so they come over and ask us in English. He says he came to says Are you a. Just now the word in Chinese for pastor and priest is the same word. And so he comes over priest in us out there and thought for a minute. I was like, what do you mean by priest?
And he said well, have you ever preached here before? And I said, yes, I'd preach there before because I had done a five minute sermon because I was learning Chinese. And so I they give me five minutes. And then they said okay and they started talking to other people and they went and asked the Chinese guys around about me and they're like nah, he just here learning Chinese.
He doesn't do anything. How's that? Yes, you know, I thought I was being bought by saying. Yes, I appreciate it. I didn't tell those five minutes. I said, yes I have.
And then we didn't have our we do have our passports on us at the time. And so they took us to our house. Kindly took us there. We got our passports. We return that to them. They wrote down our information. They said they said hey, if you do this again, you could be deported from the country.
You're not allowed to go to church. If you want to go to church you have to go to the government-sanctioned churches and they threatened us and they stop the service. Now the church knew that it kind of continued to be bold. The the pastor's were taken into the police station. We were threatened.
We said we got caught again that with that we were be kicked out of the country, but we know that there's a truth. We know that there's a promise that the gates of hell no matter what they do is not going to Prevail against the church and that Jesus is church is going to triumphantly go forward no matter what happens.
And so guess what the church continued to do. They continue to have service they continue preaching they continue to everything that they were doing before now. We have the might move locations, but when you see in the Bible and they move locations usually good things happen. And so we reach new people we meet new people and we get out of our comfort zones and one of the things about China that you'll understand if you ever read the history of missions about China is that persecution has pretty much always been part of Chinese Christianity in a large way.
Kind of comes in waves and so you'll come in a lot of people experience persecution and then it kind of just settles down a little bit and there's nothing going on and it kind of comes back. So that was in 2011 2011 to 2014. Everything seemed to be okay. We didn't get any more trouble. Now. I did have a friend that was a police officer and he didn't know I was a missionary and he had always wanted to come over my house and and me and the Tasha.
We're always kind of annoyed by it a little bit and we joke about it because he would just kind of show up unannounced and just come in and kind of sit down and table and kind of expect some food and you know everything going on and know the matter what my plans were and he would say hey I want to come pick you up after language school.
He says, where's your language school now my language school was at the church. And so I didn't want him to come to the church and so on. You know, I try to make up some kind of story and finally he get one day he got it and he called me he's like, I think you're a missionary and I said I said I said well because the way that they say it in Chinese is I was playing Words with Chinese at that time the way they say in Chinese is somebody who spreads religion I said, well I said, I'm not somebody who spreads religion I said, I'm just a Christian and Christians love.
Viable and so we talked about the Bible and other people to know about the Bible. So I do that but all Christians do that and so he's like, okay, you know, it's like he sees it was just kind of thinking about it a little bit but fast forward to 2014. We are down in Dalian. We had left hard being Jake and John walls were still open heart bean and there was Easter morning and on that morning, they had they are having a special event up.
Hard being for their Easter Service and they had passed out some flyers and that morning at all for churches that were going at the time police showed up shut down their services and took Jake and John in to this the. Now I was praise the lord we didn't have anything happen after when the police came in our services but I think Jake was preaching at the time when they came in and John, I don't think he was preaching but they thought John was Jake and so that wasn't good news for him when he when he came in because John was just in language school at the time.
But they came in and they stopped all the services and they made they made people go on the police station and they asked them questions and they had to answer all kinds of questions about what they were doing and they said yeah, we know who you are. We've been watching you for a while and they had all this information about them and at the end of that time they said, you know, we're sorry has to come to this but you have to leave the country and you got 15 days to do it and you're not going to come back for five years.
And kind of the philosophy and kind of things that I've seen recently in China is what they try to do is they think they just kind of cut off the head if they if they cut off the The Leader right there that everything will die but the problem is they forgot that Jesus is the head of the church and that if you take me out Jesus is still the head and things are still going to go forward and the church isn't going to die because we have a promise that no matter what happens.
It's going to triumphantly go forward. Jesus will have his church. In this world, we have a promise now. I was far south compared to where they are. And I thought I was in the clear. We are a little bit nervous. But I mean we're completely in a different city. You got to drive 10 hours to get where we are.
And so, you know, I'm like man they're going through some stuff up there, but we should be good down here one. The Chinese pastors called me and they said Mark they're asking for you to come up here and I was like, how did I get into this mess? Oh, I'm all the way. Here and they said well, they they know about you.
They know you're in Dalian and they know you're starting to church and so I was getting a little bit nervous and by realize they were using my Chinese name and not my English name. And so I guess well, they probably don't have that much information about me. They just know that there's this Foreigner with this Chinese name in Dolly and starting a church.
And so I declined that request to go up there and meet with them and I said I maybe next time we go out there and meet with them. And so we stayed there but as we were there we were getting ready to have Ella and I think Natasha was around 35 36 weeks along and we are going to look nervous cuz we had to renew visas.
We were afraid that maybe they knew about us knew someone for information and our passports and then we're kind of afraid that if they did find out if I got kicked out should be having the baby in China by herself. And so we said well we need to let's come back to the States for that period of time and so then we left we came back here Natasha got on the plane at 36 weeks made that fly all the way back here.
We got back here had the baby everything fine switched out passports got new visas, and we went back. Now before we left that was in the sea, that was an April, but we didn't leave until let's see in July and in June we had a visit from a church. So this is altogether April May June, July. June a visit from a church came over and that church was Vision Baptist Church and there was an assistant pastor that came over and we were out we were still trying to be bold.
We didn't want this fear mindset to keep us from being bold and we were out we were passing out tracts and he was so excited to be passing out tracks, you know, we're in communist China Seas excited and if you know anything about China they have the bridges that go over the road. And there's people just kind of just fill those up and they're walking across the roads and the he goes up there and he's start passing them out and he's not looking at what he's doing.
He just passed them out to people just try to go as fast as he can and all the sudden he looks and somebody stops and he looks up and it's a police officer and Robert had handed him a try. And he got that track and he said all right come with me
so Robert and he had a Chinese guy with him and he got taken to the police station. I was like man, I've been here for several years and that's never happened to me. I mean one week and Roberts Roberts already beat me on the boldness level and he got taken into the police station and they called us and I was with Ty Pepperdine and we were in a different area passing out tracts and they called.
Ryan the Chinese guy called me and told me what happened. I said I said well you're on your own I said I'm not getting kicked out just because of my past out of track. I said I said they might kick him out with just call us when you get it done. And we went native. Oh noodles. Seriously, didn't we we didn't come rescue did we we left him there?
And it was an exciting time because the the young man that was within the Chinese man, he had designed the track and so he took he took ownership of it. And so they went in there. He said yeah, this is just my Chinese or my American friend here visiting but this is from my church. I made this track.
We're passing it out and he boldly Proclaim Christ right there to the. So we left the country that was in June the June 25th. We left the country July 3rd. The police came to our church there in da. The Sunday after we left now, I guess because we are passing out tracks and because there was a foreigner involved they saw Robert that they thought our church was huge.
Now. We were just getting things going and it was a Thursday midweek service. And so there was barely anybody in the service but they brought like the Army to the church. I mean our church deceit Max 30 people. Okay, and they probably brought that many people to break up our church. And so I'm sure the guy who was in charge of it probably got embarrassed when they got.
There but the people that were in service that day.
The church is going to continue True Believers are going to continue to congregate together to worship Jesus in the glorify him no matter what happens because he is our Master. He is our head and we are going to follow him and do what he's told us to do we get back in October and as we get back in October, we get a new church building and we had two small churches going.
We put them together we get into this new building and as we get into the new building, I think we meet there for about a month and the police show up in the middle of the day and we're like, oh man, what what is going on? We did we can't get past this and all this was going through 2014. And finally we move locations we end up actually said I said, all right.
I want you to go down the police station tell him that we're not a cult that we're good church and while you're down there just preach the gospel to them and just see what happens. So he went down there he did it and they said hey, we got a foreigner Pastor. Can we just keep having church and they said oh, yeah.
Great, and I was like, but I don't believe them is that so we're going to move anyways, and so we moved and we got a new location and then in October 2014 when that new location you guys a lot of you have seen it. You'll see it in the videos up on the 25th floor, and we've been there since 2014.
Remember what I said it kind of comes in waves. So 2011 to 2014. Not much going on 2014 was a big year 2014 to 2018. Not much going on 2018 comes and what's going to happen? Well, some of them were going to wait and see but one of our guys that's their training to be a pastor. He got reported that he was out evangelizing police call him wanting to come in.
Somebody had actually. I called the police station and said this man is out evangelizing and he had to go in and he had to talk to the police and and there was a lot that went down with that. We had printed 10,000 John and Romans and he was going to travel around the country put a bunch in his backpack going through security and they said you can't have all these in here.
We don't know what you're planning on doing with them, but you can't have them and so they they took those and They confiscated those from him and right now as we speak there's kind of this way that starting to go up in China. There's more storage. There's always going to be stories about persecution in China because it's so big but through the different people we know and different things that they're happening even against the government churches is this wave of persecution is slowly coming and it kind of comes in these waves and even as it.
We can look back at the history of what God has done in China. We can just look back at these short eight years that we've been there and we can declare one thing. God will have his church no matter what it will triumphantly go forward in spite of persecution because the Gates of Hell will not Prevail against it.
Jesus is the head of the church. It will go forward but to go forward we need people to say I'm willing to. Lord Jesus I'm willing to give so we can send more people there people always ask me to say why do you have such a big team going that you want to go to China? I said not only is it the biggest country in the world, but we need a pipeline of people because if I get kicked out we need somebody to go in my place and we need people constantly be going at they say you're out we say, well you're in and people are constantly going because we know that the church is going to triumphantly be there.
And so we need people to go. Will you go we need people to give will you give so that they can continue receiving the gospel? Will you say no matter what? I'm on board? I'm on team Jesus. We're going to go forward with the gospel. We're going to go forward and see God triumphantly build his church in this world, and I'm going to be a part.