The Chinese Christmas Light Pastor

Joy- Welcome to our podcast series, Stories from the Field,” the podcast that takes you deeper into the lives of national workers around the world. I’m your host Joy Kita and with me in the studio are Ron and Charis Pearce. Welcome back, guys!

Ron- Good day, how are you?

Joy- I am well, I’m excited because I love these stories.

Ron- Well, today we are going to go to China, Joy, and I’m going to tell you a story about a young man I met, he was probably in his middle thirties when I met him but he had quite a life. He started when he was a teenager and he went to Bible School and he told me, sitting in this room, he was very, very excited about telling me his story and he started out in super excitement when he said this: We were in this Bible School, a group of us students, we spent 14 hours a day studying the word of God and we had to memorize 800 verses in two months.”

Joy- That has to be impossible.

Ron- I know, that’s what I thought at the time but this was normal life for them, it was very, very hard. Then he said they were there for a year or two maybe and he went with all his classmates and they would go to the nearby villages around and they would have arranged meetings there and they would work from morning until night and they became exhausted. Absolutely exhausted, so much so that sometimes they would lose their voice because of preaching the Gospel. So he kept on going telling me these sorts of things and then he moved on to another time. He said then, we went into a cave and this cave he and his father had dug and it could hold 200 people.

Joy- Wow, that’s a cave! I mean I am picturing a cave that you walk into. Would it be more of an underground?

Ron- No, this would, well, it could be both. I would suspect it would be a walk in and they carved out. Maybe there was already a bit of a cave there. But they made it available for 200 people to gather together. And he said in there, in the darkness, we would prepare, by candlelight, sermons, we would study and we would hand write out Bibles because they didn’t have enough printed ones. So they would hand write them out. And he said, then we would have various people come in and they would study in there with us, etcetera. It was almost like a convention center on the down-low. This was no stars, this wasn’t a four star, it was zero star, and they would come in for that sort of thing. And he did that for about two or three years and then they were arrested. He and his other friends were all put in jail and they were in there for three years. When he got out of the jail, then he would go around and he would continue to start churches in the various areas. This one time, the police couldn’t catch him and he kept traveling around working and his reputation was growing. So they arrested his father and they imprisoned him and let it leak out that they were torturing him and they were coercing the son to give himself up to free the father. So he did. He went back in, gave himself up, didn’t matter, they put them both in prison for three years. And he started to describe what it was like in there and it was pretty bad. This is the thing that I remember the most because he talked about the fact that they would have quotas in the prison to do various things. Some would work outside and he did and they weren’t allowed shoes in the winter and they weren’t allowed any coats, they were bound by their legs so they couldn’t run and by their hands. So they would work with chains on in these sort of situations. But he said other times they would be forced to work inside and one of the biggest things that they did was make Christmas tree lights. The ones that you folks who are listening probably have in your homes at Christmas time.

Joy- Like the little twinkly lights that we would put on trees?

<p>Christmas lights</p>
But he said other times they would be forced to work inside and one of the biggest things that they did was make Christmas tree lights. The ones that you folks who are listening probably have in your homes at Christmas time.

Ron- The little twinkly lights, and they would make them there with the wires, etc. those were, and in China today, they are handmade and sold all around the world. He demonstrated for us, on another occasion outside of this, he demonstrated for me how it was done. And we happened to dump a whole bunch of these on the floor in front of him and they were in someone’s home. They were all mixed up, you know how you get a ball of wire, a big dot, so we put it on the floor and it looked like a basketball of wire. And he says, Yeah, this is it,” and he got down in there and you could see his fingers working and his teeth and he was bending things. It was just like he was in prison.

Joy- Just the muscle memory of doing it.

Ron- It was incredible to watch and he said every day we would have a quota of how many of these strings we would have to create and every day the quota was never met and they would beat us every single day. He said they would even get the prisoners to beat them. So we asked him, What about food?” And he said, Usually they would have pieces of hard dried out bread, the bread that no one else wanted or things like that.” Food that was virtually inedible but they would have to eat it. And he says many of the prisoners died in prison or wanted to die. Not the Christians but many of the unbelievers would commit suicide in the prison and that is why they wouldn’t let them have shoes or shirts or zippers. I have no idea why zippers but it must be something in China. Shoelaces and all that sort of stuff, that’s no problem, but they couldn’t have zippers either. So this was his life in doing it. So we asked about the productivity that he had when he was doing this and started 400 churches by the coast, and this would be by the coast of China, the ocean and everything like that, so this would be on the east side of China. So he started 400 churches and they continued and grew. He did all of this while going to prison. And he would be interspersed with planting churches, be captured, spend two years in prison, etcetera. So if you can add up his life, he was starting probably when he was about 16 years old, I was talking to him about mid-thirties, so I’m going to say so he was at this for 20 years. And these are the years in a young person’s, young man’s, life when they want to be doing other things like getting married, having a family, all this sort of stuff. This was not his calling and he sacrificed so much for the Gospel but he was an inspiration to many and he finally became the head of a major house church movement in China and today, last I heard he was still in charge, the group was growing and it is a powerful operation there today.

Joy-So he is still being productive years later.

Ron- Years later, and he never stopped, he never would stop. Conditions have varied in the prisons. Back when he first got going, to go to prison it was very, very rough. Well today, we are in 2021 right now, it is not as bad over there due to the Covid situation. There aren’t as many being sent to prison but you have to remember that persecution in China goes in waves and they will go through a period of heavy and then it will lighten up for whatever reasons. Then it will get extremely heavy and then lighten up again. So it’s this wave factor in the prisons in China and whenever I call over there and we talk with the leadership, I’m always asking them, where are we at in persecution right now and they will say severe, it’s almost like a weather forecast, a light rain today, torrential rains tomorrow, sunny, and then you know, that is the sort of situation that you’ve got. So the point I’m making with this is these young people in China today that are accepting the Lord today and that are the motor of the house church movement over there don’t care about the weather. They don’t care about the waves, they don’t care about the situation, they don’t complain, they go out and just see people who don’t know Jesus and they will preach in sunny weather or in prison or wherever they are, that is their calling in life and that is why the church in China is so productive.

Charis- One of the questions that we get asked when we are telling this story is should we throw out our Christmas lights?

Joy- That’s what I was thinking, never again will I light a tree!

Charis- But I remember you saying over and over again, when you put your Christmas lights up, just remember all the church leaders in China and pray for them because it’s a good reminder to us.

Ron- Exactly, it’s a reminder, plus Charis, the fact is that if they are not making Christmas tree lights they are going to be making something else. So it’s not a matter of what they make. That is the reality of the situation. It’s a matter that they will be forced into hard labor, they will be forced into these situations and the next time that they are there they might be making something totally different. It’s not the item. It’s the fact that this is their lot in life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, this is where they spend some time. One guy said to me, Listen, when we go to prison we go there for a rest. We get so tired outside preaching the Gospel from morning until night. God has a plan and we go there for a rest and he knows that we need that rest and we are so thankful.” And he says, It’s hard work in there and all this sort of stuff but then we get out and we go back to work again.”

Joy- That is a different perspective.

Ron- Isn’t that the way though, with everything in life. It’s perspective. This is why the perspective on the church in China, it’s positive.

Joy- Positive. Always positive from China. Do you think the young people who are leading the house church movement as you mentioned earlier, if they are not spending as much time in prison, will they be prepared when that wave does come?

Ron- Yes, let me put it to you this way. This last ten years or so, there is a whole new group of young pastors out there who never experienced a serious persecution of those who went before them and, therefore, they were expecting the good times when they could have mass meetings and they became more Western almost, Western church pastor-ish. The older generation was concerned sort of like, they are immature and they haven’t gone through this. Well then things changed and in this last five or so years things were getting worse, the surveillance was great and they were going to prison and they matured almost overnight. So much so that the last conversation I had a couple of weeks ago with one of the main leaders over there and he said that the younger pastors had matured beautifully over this last little while. They understand now the way of the cross. And when they say understanding the way of the cross that means taking up your cross daily, suffering, going through the hardships but persevering under the whole thing. So the answer, yes.

<p>China village</p>
So we asked about the productivity that he had when he was doing this and started 400 churches by the coast, and this would be by the coast of China, the ocean and everything like that, so this would be on the east side of China.

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