Friday, August 15, 2008

Pray For China

All the world, news stories, newspaper articles, blogs, worldwide web, backyard BBQ conversation is all about what is happening in China right now...the Olympics!

Beijing 2008

I love watching the Olympics! I always have. Through the performances and amazing feats of talented men and women who have pushed their gifted bodies to go further than thought possible (and possibly further than God had designed :) I can envision my self as a brave diver plunging 3 stories with barely a ripple to show I had parted the waters. I can be the bouncey, acrobatic gymnast with grace and poise instead of the klutzy gal I truly am who actually chipped her front teeth doing a round off in elementary school. I can imagine myself breaking records as I tear through the tape at the finish line of a track race to the cheers of "U-S-A!" even though I run slower than molasses. And even though I cannot even put my face under water without holding my nose, I am as a dolphin effortlessly flying through the water of a swimming pool during the freestyle. imagination can run wild and even I, yes I, can be a gold medalist standing on the platform with grateful tears flowing down my cheeks as the world listens with me to the playing of our anthem.

Last Saturday was the family birthday party at our home for Brianne and her 2 year old cousin. As we gathered, comment after comment was made praising the opening ceremonies from the evening before. We do not have cable in our home, so we were unable to watch it. We heard all about the technology used, the incredible accuracy of performers and on and on and on. I was most envious! The following day, Chuck figured out how to link his computer to our television so that we could watch the Olympics from recordings through the network online.

Now, let me be completely honest here and admit to some pre-Olympic emotional reserve. China persecutes Christians and they do so regularly and severely. We receive publications from the organization Voice of the Martyrs and they have kept us updated on what has been going on in that country as they have been preparing for this time when the entire world would be watching. They want to prove to the world that they are a different China...a humane China...a friendly China...a China that the world can be proud of and the Olympic committee can be relieved about choosing.

As my family and I sat and watched the, indeed, amazing opening ceremonies...I couldn’t help but think of the various stories that I have recently read. I couldn’t quite erase from my thoughts the pictures of the persecuted and imprisoned for their faith and preaching of Jesus Christ. My thoughts went to children who have been taken away from families because it is illegal to teach them about Jesus before the age of 18. I thought of those who attend underground house churches because they belong to “the evil occult” as Christianity is referred to.

About halfway through the incredible performances, Brianne looked at me and said, “It’s kind of hard to really enjoy this when I think about that pastor having to make all of those soccer balls.” She is referring to a Christian pastor who has been imprisoned for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. During his imprisonment, he was forced to assemble 2000 soccer balls for the Olympics.

Yes, I had to agree, my delight at what I was seeing was severely marred by the truth behind the beauty—China hides its ugly true self. China hates Jesus. China hates Christians. China hates pastors and missionaries. China needs our prayers!

I really do not have any desire to rain on anyone’s Olympic parade. My family and I have enjoyed watching for a couple of hours each evening all the events. The boys have gotten the biggest kick out of badminton and ping pong being actual Olympic sports! We have sat amazed at divers, swimmers, gymnasts, archers, shooters, and look forward to all of the events in the days to come. No, my purpose in writing this today is to ask you to pray for China during this time of focused attention towards that country.

Pray for the walls of hatred to be broken down by the love and blood of Jesus Christ. Pray for the many who are persecuted daily in His name. Pray for their families. Pray for those families that attend the underground churches. Pray for the pastors and missionaries that preach to them. Pray for the underground Bible schools. Pray for the teachers and students who attend and leave the building rarely so as not to be found out. Pray for those who are beaten and stripped of their businesses and possessions when found out. Pray for the missionaries and attendees of the Olympics who have taken Bibles and other Christian publications with them who are in danger if they get found out. Pray for the lost, the unsaved who are adamantly taught from a young age to resist Jesus.

Enjoy the Olympic experience and dream those truly “impossible” dreams. :) Enjoy the time with family and friends around the television set. But remember how it really is not all fun and “games” in China.

It is about far more than the sad stories of children separated from their families at the age of 3 to train to be an Olympian. It is far more than the outrage that a child with a beautiful voice cannot be the one performing in front of the crowd because she is not deemed “cute” enough. is far more serious, far more consequential than all of that, sad though those stories may be.

It may be the Olympics, but it is still China!

Watch...Enjoy...and Pray!

And if you happen to catch any of the soccer matches, please remember the imprisoned pastor who made the ball you see being used. Such a small, seemingly unimportant reality is the necessity of all the balls needed for practice and for play. Except in this case, no paid employee at the Wilson Sporting Equipment Company made them. No, the hands of a beaten and persecuted Christian pastor did...all 2000 of them!

For more information on the persecuted church in China and throughout the world click here.