The end times church will be faced with this question (face persecution of flee) more and more as Christians experience the coming prophesied tribulation in the last seven years before Jesus returns first to rapture His church and to pour out His wrath on a lawless, unrepentant world.
In this photo taken Sunday, June 3, 2018, the demolished house church is seen in the city of Zhengzhou in central China’s Henan province. Under President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, believers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically even as the country undergoes a religious revival. Experts and activists say that as he consolidates his power, Xi is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Three years ago, 62 members of China’s Shenzhen Reformed Holy Church, also known as the Mayflower Church, fled to South Korea to escape persecution from the Communist government. They requested political asylum in South Korea but were denied. The church is now in Thailand, where members hope to gain refugee status, and eventually resettle in the United States. Until then, they face many challenges, including possible arrest by Thailand immigration police and being sent back to China.
The Mayflower Church believes that they are like the Israelites in Exodus who God brought out of Egypt. As well, if you study the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul fled persecution. Most Christian churches in the Western world would support the course of action taken by the Mayflower Church, however, many of the Chinese house church Christians have a self-identity of being “patriotic martyrs”. They are willing to suffer and be martyred for their faith. So when a group decides to leave persecution and martyrdom, that creates some tension in what has become a cultural and religious identity of the entire house church Protestant movement in China.
Regardless, it was encouraging to learn what Pastor Pan said in response to this contradictory view, “While church members still face restrictions and potential deportation, we enjoy the freedom we have to worship. I struggle with many uncertainties in my heart like most of my congregation. But we find strength every time we experience how God has been faithfully providing for our daily needs and how He is constantly protecting us from the evil men who want to harm us. “Whether we go live in the US or are taken back to China, we will regard this experience as listening to God’s call and continuing to be a vibrant testimony of His goodness and faithfulness.”