We started our presbytery meeting this morning with a worship service. For the last several years we have tried to schedule at least one day-long meeting among our other regular presbytery meetings.
After the worship service Pastor Wang Yi shared about recent events surrounding his church and the three times he was detained by police over the last month. May 12 (nicknamed 512), the 10 year anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake, May 28 (528) when Pastor Wang along with several church members went to the local authorities to inquire about certain details of the 512 incident and finally June 4 (64), the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square movement.
“At this time in the life of the house church we need men and women who are willing to sacrifice, suffer and even go to prison. Lord only knows how much longer I have”, referring to the possibility of being arrested.
As Pastor Wang elaborated on the details of this I was sitting next his wife and his 11 year-old son wondering what was going on in their hearts and minds. Both of them have also endured no small amount of heart ache, watching their husband/father being carted off to the police station on average at least two or three times a year.
In the afternoon one of the first items on the docket was to discuss emergency plans for the churches of the presbytery. To summarize in a very simplistic manner the key question was what to do if one or more pastors is arrested.
I tried to remember the last time I’d seen an item like that on the docket of my home presbytery. The very presence of this possibility informs the attitudes of those who are at risk of this happening the them. They are forced to recognize that they are not in control. This lesson is something I need to learn from. Dare I say, I see many pastors in my own denomination and in my own country that need to learn this lesson also.
I thought of the words Peter wrote to the early church encouraging them by using the example of Christ; “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). May we all learn more deeply what these words mean and how we may live out this witness before a watching world.