Earlier this week I had the privilege of listening to my professor describe her experience working in the underground church in China. It’s illegal to be a missionary in China, as it is to be a born-again, evangelistic Christian. Because of that, missionaries have to go over as some other job and work with the church in secret.
Her work was mainly in their Bible schools. These schools are illegal and have to be kept hidden otherwise they’ll be destroyed, and the leaders jailed. To do that they rent out the top four stories of an apartment building and say it’s for someone’s extended family. An iron gate is placed in the stairwell right before the 4thfloor. They bring in the faculty to live on the bottom floor and maintain a normal pattern of life so that the people below can hear them moving around and don’t suspect anything unusual.
The top floors are used for men and women’s dormitories and classrooms. They black out all the windows and are never allowed to open them regardless of how hot it is (there is no A/C). Students come for 9-month terms and are only allowed to leave the building on Sundays early in the morning before daylight, two by two. They would come home after dark in the same fashion.
A typical day looks like getting up at 5, having Bible study and prayer, eating breakfast and being ready for class by 7. Class runs until 12, then they have lunch and a nap and are back in class at 2pm, until supper. After supper class resumes from 8 to 10 pm.
Students have to be carefully chosen to avoid communist plants. To be chosen, you have to have a pastor or church vouch for you and have to have demonstrated faithfulness to Jesus over a period of time. Usually, you must also prove your seriousness by memorizing large portions of scripture. These men and women become the future leaders in the church. Despite all the persecution, the church in China is growing miraculously.
My professor told many stories, but one stuck out to me. She was very close with one female student at a secular university who wanted her to come back to where she lived and share Jesus with her family. They took a train way out into the rural parts of China where this young woman was from.
Her family was affluent, living on a farm with servants. As they were sitting down to dinner, my professor said to the father, “Let me ask you something. Do you believe there is a God?”
The man nodded frustratedly. “Yes,” he said, “Of course we believe there is a God! Look at all this!” He gestured to the beautiful landscape around them. “We know there is a God. We just don’t know how to get to Him.”
Something about the agony of that statement just overwhelms me.
My professor proceeded to tell him the story of the Bible, Jesus, the cross, and the resurrection. The story we take for granted. He’d never heard it. When she was finished, he said, “Yes! I believe that!” He then went out into his fields and made all of his workers come in. He said, “This woman has come to us, and she knows how to get to God!”
All the people on that farm gave their lives to Jesus.
It’s such an amazing story. We have to realize there are people that still have never really heard the gospel. When God called my professor to China He said, “China does not belong to the communist government. It belongs to me, and I want it back.”
That same thing could be said of every lost person around us. They do not belong to the devil. They belong to their creator who loves them. We don’t have to go to China to find people that don’t know how to get to God. They are all around us, and the answer is Jesus. Let’s pray that God will open our eyes and give us opportunities to share the love and grace of God. Let’s also pray for our brothers and sisters in China who continue to face brutal opposition.