As Answers in Genesis conducts ministry all over the world, it is essential that we reflect on important occurrences within the cultures to which we desire to deliver AiG’s message about the authority of God’s Word and the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This week we direct our focus to China.
In December 2014, Chinese authorities dismantled a cross affixed to the top of a convalescent home in Hangxhou.* Although no specific reason was given for the removal of this symbol of the Christian faith, there can be no doubt that it stems ultimately from a reaction against the gospel message that the Cross represents. As 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”** The Cross underlines that all men are sinners and that they need a Savior. Sin entered into the world as a result of Adam’s rebellion against God, a historical event occurring in the literal Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6–11; Romans 5:12). In like manner, Scripture tells us all have sinned against their Creator and have fallen short of the glory of God (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23). And yet, Jesus Christ died on the Cross to bear the penalty for man’s sins, and to restore him to a right relationship with God by means of grace through faith. Thus, the message of the Cross that is an offense to many is also, to those who believe, a message of the power of God to bring about salvation though the crucified but now resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ.
This incident in Hangxhou comes as part of continued resistance to the open practice of Christianity in China. The official Xinjiang Daily recently noted that the regional government, as of January 1, 2015, was implementing new rules curtailing the expression of religion: “People will be banned from ‘exaggerating religious fervor using their appearance, clothing or logos.’”*** In addition to this incident highlighting the inherent “offense” of the Cross, it is a reminder of the plight of our Christian brothers and sisters who live under persecution. The persecution of Christians has, sadly, been the norm in China for over half a century. To get a perspective on what persecution has been like for some Christians in China, I would encourage you to watch the following video featuring the testimony of Dr. Daniel Wong, professor of Bible exposition at The Master’s College, a conservative Christian institution that stands boldly with AiG in defending the literal truth and historicity of the opening chapters of Genesis:
What can Answers in Genesis do to help the persecuted church? We should remember that the Apostle Peter was writing to a persecuted church when he wrote, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:14–16). It is a deep burden for those involved with the international division of the Answers in Genesis ministry to help strengthen believers as much as possible so that we may have the utmost confidence in the gospel of Christ at the most crucial of times. Sometimes, it is through this strength in the face of persecution that God brings people to see the authenticity of His good news.
Daniel Wong is certainly no stranger to persecution, and in his testimony we see how the persecution he endured contributed in galvanizing his efforts to continually proclaim the authority of God’s Word and the trustworthiness of the gospel of Jesus Christ it contains. As you reflect on his testimony and think on the recent events in Hangxhou, please remember to pray for fellow Christians around the world who endure persecution because they cling to the message of the Cross of Christ.
*“Chinese Authorities Tear Down Cross on Christian Nursing Home,” Reuters, January 1, 2015: http://blogs.reuters .com/faithworld/2015/01/01/chinese-authorities-tear-down-cross-on-christian-nursing-home/.
** Negative reaction against the Cross is not uncommon, even in the present day. See our previous blog: http:// blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/worldwide/2014/12/16/cross-on-summit-of-carrauntoohil-cut-down/.
***“Chinese Authorities Tear Down Cross on Christian Nursing Home,” Reuters, January 1, 2015: http://blogs.reuters .com/faithworld/2015/01/01/chinese-authorities-tear-down-cross-on-christian-nursing-home/.