|The Shouwang Church in China has been worshipping |
outdoors amid opposition from authorities for over a year.
Shouwang Church’s confrontation with authorities began in April 2011, when the believers began meeting for their Sunday service outdoors. The church had been forced from its indoor meeting place in a restaurant after the management, pressured by government officials, refused the church access.
Below are excerpts of the interview with Sister L.
Could you speak about your personal experience of the outdoor Sunday worship service on April 10 last year?
It will soon be a year since last April 10, so it is a good time now to look back on that day. I remember feeling a little nervous and worried that day. I felt that worshipping our Lord in this way, on an open-air platform, would be very different from before. But I was also very much looking forward to it. After all, we would be worshipping our Lord in the embrace of nature, so I felt strangely excited. As we approached the platform, we saw many police vehicles parked around the area. Assuming that they were there on routine business, my husband and I didn’t think much of it as we walked straight for the platform. To our surprise, plainclothes police came up and barred us, and tried to drag us violently into a police vehicle.
When you were being dragged into the police vehicle, did you know where they were going to take you, were you nervous?
Sister L: I really wanted to resist when they shoved me into their vehicle. I felt that these police were just preposterous, and I felt really unsettled and angry. As for where we were going, I wasn’t very scared because I was with my husband so I didn’t feel too nervous.
Who made a deep impression on you?
Sister L: The brothers and sisters of our church, they were unforgettable.... Using the service worship sheets that our church had previously distributed, we worshiped there as we would normally have done. There was praise and preaching and prayer, not a single part was left out. An older sister kept sharing the gospel with two or three policemen. She was not only gracious and amiable but also spoke with the authority of an elder, which left those policemen not knowing how to respond. All they could do was listen and agree.
Also, when ... we were waiting to be taken to our respective local police stations and a young brother from our church — he looked about 16 or 17 years old — really left a deep impression on me. I remember he was filled with joy and constantly quoting God’s words from the Bible to cheer us up and encourage those of us who were feeling anxious. Wow! God was using a young brother who had little experience of life to show us that He was with us. I was so grateful for this and also so thankful for this young brother. As it happened, later we were taken to the same local police station, and we continued praying, sharing and encouraging each other there. It was truly a beautiful experience. After we were released from the police station, we had a meal and took pictures together to remember that day. I believe God will continue to watch over this little brother.
With regard to the outdoor worship service, which has been going on for such a long time, do you think it’s been beneficial or detrimental to your spiritual growth?
Sister L: Without doubt, beneficial. Before this, my faith was not personal. Society tells you to believe in yourself, to depend on yourself, or to believe in and depend on the group. But what do you do when you find that neither is dependable? So these are all lies and sooner or later you will discover that you’ve been duped. Praise God that His grace was poured out on to me so that I could realize that power, wisdom and love come from God alone. My worth and purpose can only come from trusting in Him.
To read the rest of the interview, click here. For more information on China’s persecuted Church, please visit our China Country Report.