Standing Firm

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 

‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ 

‘Where, O death, is your victory? 

Where, O death, is your sting?’ 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 

1 Cor 15:51-58

Brother Wang was 32 years old when I first met him in 2013. He was born in Shanxi Province.  His wife, Zao Xue (which means, “Pure”), is from our area.

Brother Wang lost his mother at an early age and sought for love and peace.  This pursuit eventually drew him to love and focus upon art.  In his early years in Shanxi he heard the gospel on the radio, but did not yet embrace the message.

He moved to our city in order to attend a university.  While a student there, he went with one of his friends to a Christmas program at a local church.  He was deeply moved by the beauty of the songs, especially those sung by the Miao choir, and the love and peace he felt during the service.  He thought: where does this peace come from?  This was the beginning of his spiritual journey.  He became a Christian shortly after this experience and began attending church.

After graduation he moved to another city, an artistic center in our province.  There, he attended the local TSPM church, but quickly gravitated to a house church.  There also he met his wife.

Brother Wang and his wife felt called to serve the Lord and in 2007 they began to minister in his community and the surrounding areas.  In 2012 they started a Christian bookstore/coffee shop, which had the appearance of being an artistic cultural center.  They began to see many students come to their shop and quickly started Christian meetings there.  They had many activities and drew a lot of young people.  The church began to grow.  

At this time Brother Wang also traveled to outlying villages and shared the gospel with the minority peoples living there.

Someone notified the police of Brother Wang and his wife’s evangelistic work.  As a result, Brother Wang and his wife were warned by the police to stop sharing the gospel with others.  They did not stop.  Toward the end of April, 2013 the police came and arrested both Wang and his wife.  The young couple was detained in a low-level prison setting for six months.  Initially they were separated, but later they were able to live together.   The apartment they rented and everything they owned were taken from them.  They were beaten in the early stage of their detention, although not too severely. Wang said the psychological abuse was harder to take.  They were constantly criticized and subjected to brain washing techniques.  

Wang indicated that when they were released in October of 2013, he struggled with hatred for his captors.  Over the months that followed he said that he experienced a lot of healing and was able to forgive them.  Although he was naturally outgoing by nature, after his imprisonment he found it hard to be friendly and trust others.  His wife found it more difficult to move on from this experience and was uncomfortable around strangers for some time.  She often stayed at home and did not go out much.

When Wang and his wife were released, they moved to a new city, where they rented an apartment and once again began to minister to university students.  However, after a few months their landlord came to them and asked what they were doing.  He had heard of their Christian work and told them to stop.  Wang implied that one of the students that had been attending their meetings was the daughter of a university teacher and that perhaps this is how the landlord learned of their activities.  Due to this pressure, Wang and his wife moved once again. Wang has a vision for ministering the gospel to others through the visual arts. 

Lord, I give you thanks for the hope that you give. Help me to live with a clear sense of the hope that I have in you. I need not fear hardship, the loss of possessions, sickness, or even death itself. You have defeated death, sin, and every evil power, and my future with you – even beyond the grave – is certain. I rejoice because I know that my labor in your name is not in vain. It will have eternal consequences. Lord, let the hope that is within me shape my life and my actions. Let me stand firm, like Brother Wang and his wife, and let nothing move me from obedience to you. Enable me to give myself, and all that I do, fully to you.