Investigation Of Invasion

Well, run your mouth about boldness and you just might end up in a scary situation! Last week a teacher at a nearby university decided to begin an ‘investigation’ of our church. She has several students in her classes that come to our services and a few that have become Christians. When she found out that we go to English corners to make friends, she was fed up. She told some of our members that this is a ‘cultural invasion’ and that an investigation was underway. She also said that she was going to come to our services and try to get the students from her university to ‘go back with her.’

So, come Sunday, we were very nervous. To clarify, a teacher coming is no big deal (we’ve had other teachers attend regularly in the past). The problem is anyone attending who has a reason to be angry at us! Because any one person has the power to do some major damage – it’s as simple as calling the police. It doesn’t matter if this teacher comes, harasses us, curses us, argues with us, or beats us – the only thing that could really get us into trouble would be to call the police. That could end us up out of the country.

Praise the Lord, she didn’t come last Sunday. I think if she doesn’t come this weekend, the coast should be clear for now. Please help us in praying for this situation – a teacher coming doesn’t sound like a scary thing, but someone with a motivation to call the police is. Last week there were many of our friends and family all over the world in prayer for us – the students were pretty amazed when they found out the teacher was not coming – it was a great lesson for them in the power of prayer! Here’s a couple other things of note about these kinds of situations:

1. The big question is what to change: Do we change location or time? Do we not let some people in? We didn’t do anything differently in the end (not because we felt that was the only right choice, though), and we had a fantastic service that night. This question requires weighing options, most especially in prayer. As we could see no end in sight for a change (why wouldn’t she just come back the next week?), we decided that this was a time for boldness via normal-ness.

2. It’s always about the ‘cultural invasion’: Take the foreigners out of the equation and you don’t have much of a problem. People assume that we’re using some kind of bait to get people to come and then brainwash them. In response to these feelings, it’s important that you really do purge the church of any kind of bait-and-switch tactics, and also that you get national leadership in place as soon as possible. Thankfully, if the teacher had come last week, she would have heard a Chinese guy preach. And if she comes this week, she’ll hear another Chinese guy preach. It’s been planned for a long time, but this really is the best time for this kind of an ‘investigation.’

3. We have to teach members to respond: What this situation really needs to make it explosive is some undiscerning reactions on the part of our members. I talked to the guy who was going to preach that night about what to do if verbally harassed while he was speaking. We added an announcement explaining that we were a church meeting to worship and study the Bible. We encouraged students from the other locations to come out and support this one. And most importantly, we encouraged them to pray. Some of the students who were most nervous about the teacher coming came to service on Sunday, anyway. That was really encouraging.

4. People in danger want a scapegoat: They want to know whose fault this is. Many of them have set their sights on a particular guy who they think is the culprit. And they hardly welcomed him when he came into church on Sunday. I don’t believe this is his fault, but he feels miserable all the same. Even if he is an enemy, we are to love him. It can be easy to pass the test of boldness and fail the test of charity. Our members need to understand that.

If the church here will have any kind of longevity at all, it will have to go through times of fear like this regularly. That’s mostly out of our control. We can only trust God’s purposes and seek to respond in obedience. Thanks for your prayers!

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One Comment on “Investigation Of Invasion”

  1. Jason Holt October 23, 2009 at 6:02 am #

    Great post! We had special prayer last night during our church service in Santiago for you and the ministry there in China. Keep it up

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