Friday, February 08, 2008

Bob Fu Recipient of the 2007 John Leland Religious Liberty Award!

The organization I work for, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, awarded the 2007 John Leland Religious Liberty Award to a brother in Christ named Bob Fu. I was able to attend the ceremony yesterday at the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building in one of the members' of Congress rooms. There were approximately 70 people there. The 2006 award was given to George W. Bush in the oval office. It was a blessing to learn more about Mr. Fu's organization China Aid Association.

[At the right is a picture of Richard Land with Bob Fu]

Dr. Richard Land presented the award, and Congressman Trent Franks co-hosted the event. Bob Fu spoke for approximately an hour and he gave a moving testimony. It was a sobering call to all of us to fight for religious freedom. Here are a few excerpts from his speech:
"I was born and grew up in China. My mom met my dad when she was begging [for] food in his village because of extreme poverty in [the] 1950's. I remember, as a young boy living in [the] Shandong province in northeast China, as my mother was slowly dying of her lung disease caused by starvation, I begged a local doctor, even offering myself as his bond servant for life if he would just help provide medicine for my mother to get well. As he shut the door on me and I walked away with a broken heart, I remember falling on the ground behind a barn in my home yard and in the only way I knew how, praying to a higher power to help me and to help my mother. I prayed that one day my poor mom and I could get some equal status with my other fellow villagers, no matter how poor or rich."

He described later in his talk that he was not a Christian yet, and that when he was a university student he was actively involved in the student's democratic movement in 1989. During this time he was considering a suicide campaign to kill those in the government who betrayed him; however he said, "one night in the classroom, I was given a small booklet which was smuggled in from Hong Kong by my American English teacher. It was a testimony of a pastor. I was fascinated and finished reading it with one breath." He could remember the following passage the most:
2 Corinthians 2:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (ESV)."

He described that he hadn't received a Bible until a year later and, yet he became a believer in the authority of the Bible because he knew somehow that these words were from the Bible. Next he described his motivation for much of what they do in the China Aid Association.
"I was totally convicted that I was as depraved as those I wanted to kill. How could I expect myself to be treated equal by others if I wanted to kill them? 'Yes,' I decided, 'I want to become a new creation.' I couldn't help but surrender myself to my Creator. Later I knelt down on the floor with my American teacher at his dorm and accept[ed] Christ into my life. I realized the very freedom of conscience that the Creator endowed in my heart is far more precious and fundamental than any other rights. The very next day, I found everything was renewed and I even started having compassion and respect toward my betrayers and my enemies. I suddenly realized that, although as a small boy I did not know who God was, He knew and loved me, just like He knows and loves the 1.3 billion people I left behind in China some 12 years ago when President Clinton intervened for me, my new infant son and my wonderful wife Heidi (you can read the Christianity Today article on this from September 1, 1997)."

This was a heavy comment to make emotionally. This man loves the people of China. It was moving... His emotion stopped him for long periods of time as he said the following words:
"I am and always will be, Chinese in my heart. I miss China very much and pray for her future. I sincerely want China's future to be one of prosperity and stability and I believe that this can only be realized as true religious freedom is fully embraced in China and protected by the rule of law. This objective is the motivation behind all my efforts and the purpose of China Aid Association."

He further remarked about how the official TSPM churches are not signs of true religious freedom as they are controlled by the Chinese government and they are not trusted by over 60-80 million Chinese Christians. Further, how China Aid is wrongly seen as hostile to the Chinese government, because Christianity and other peaceful religious groups do not need to be "controlled" and are not a threat to the government, but rather, are one of the needed building blocks for stability and can provide much needed help for promoting non-violence during the current time of transition in China's history.

He pointed out an example of this in the problems that the cultic group "Eastern Lightening" poses to the Chinese government:
"If the house churches were free to assemble and publish the truth of Christianity, orthodoxy, and also free to instruct their congregations, especially their children, the truly dangerous cults would be more easily identified and less likely to victimize the ignorant as the Chinese government fears."

He argued that the Christian community can provide much needed social services as well. He said, "This would be a win-win scenario for the Chinese government."

He then gave a brief history of China and Christianity, pointed out that there is a shortsightedness in some house churches and that they need to face their problems honestly. Lastly, he said at the end, "May God continue to bless China and America!"

It was an excellent presentation and I pray that the Lord will bless their ministry to bring the gospel to many people. The only critique I would have of the afternoon is that the gospel was not as clearly presented as I would have liked it to have been. That God is perfect, unmade, holy. That all mankind has fallen into sin and deserves eternal punishment in the presence of God's righteous wrath. That Jesus Christ came into the world as being fully God and fully man and died as a substitute for those who would repent and believe in the gospel. He came to earth...lived, died and rose again after three days. We must repent and believe in this the gospel!

There really was much more to the can check it out here. Further, you can download a copy of their 2007 persecution report here. I consider it an honor to have learned about China Aid Association and the wonderful work that God is doing through them. May Christ be magnified in bringing His sheep to him through the China Aid Association's preaching of the gospel!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Talkin' in the City

Just a quick vent...

We live on the corner pretty close to a school, a bus stop, etc. in Wash DC. Its really a pretty busy street, but its really surprisingly quiet in our place. We hear police sirens and firetrucks quite a bit. None of that is really distracting or annoying though.

What is distracting is high school kids walking home from school, folks walking home from work, and people walking home late at night from wherever they are coming from. Its not that they are annoying because they are talking, but most of the time they are SHOUTING! Lol...

It always cracks us up to hear some folks walking down the street two to five feet from each other and they are literally shouting, not in anger, in normal conversation. Second to public displays of affection this shouting in normal conversation ranks as one of the more annoying things in a city;)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

Just an update...

I have accepted a position and am working for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission on Captiol Hill.

Should be a great place to work. Check out their website sometime;)

In Christ,

Friday, February 01, 2008


This looks like a good movie.

If you've seen it leave a comment on what you thought.

Reaction 2: Isolation

Proverbs 18:1 “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”

There is no such thing as a perfect church before glory, because Christians are not yet perfect (Phil 3:12). This is a representation of the tension between the “already” and the “not yet” of the Christian life. True believers are made perfect in Christ, yet they are being made perfect (Heb 10:14). Even a church that practices a “regenerate church membership” has to recognize that despite their best attempt to maintain a believer’s church some folks will not truly be believers, and those that are have not been fully sanctified. Despite the sin we all commit Christians are called to live in a community with other believers.

One of the other reactions that I have seen to the problems that sin creates in local churches is to isolate from the church. The temptation is to isolate from a visible local community of believers. In order to show the kingdom of God to the world we are to be a city on a hill, a light to the world (Matt 5:14). I know its basic, but a city is composed of people with relationships. Here’s a natural example of what I am trying to point out. One of the problems in our society today is that people try to live in isolation within cities. Many cities simply do not have a concept of community. Christ’s disciples are called to redeem what true community looks like, and they will show Jesus Christ to the world by the way that they love one another publicly (John 13:34-35). It seems that we are somehow to make the relationships that we have among other believers public! It’s a commandment from Christ for us to love fellow Christians (1 John 4:20). If we don’t we simply may not be true Christians. If we want to live obediently to what the Bible teaches we would see that it is really a book about relationships: God within the Trinity, God and man, husband and wife, parent and child, friends, employer and employee, brother and sister (biologically and in Christ). However, relationships are difficult.

Relationships are one of the means by which God sanctifies us (Ecc 4:12). At the same time it is through relationships that God displays his glory to the world. My pastor wrote about a conversation that he had with a friend that worked for a campus Christian ministry years ago:
“He would always slip in right after the hymns, sit there for the sermon, and then leave. I asked him one day why he didn’t come for the whole service. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I don’t get anything out of the rest of it.’ ‘Have you ever thought about joining the church?’ [Mark] responded. He thought that was just an absurd comment. He said, ‘why would I join the church? If I join them, I think they would just slow me down spiritually.’ [Mark] asked, ‘Have you ever considered that maybe God wants you to link arms with those other people, and that perhaps even though they might slow you down a little, you might help to speed them up - and that that’s part of God’s plan for how we’re supposed to live as Christians together?’” [Dever, Mark, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church (Wheaton: Crossway, 2004), 155-156]

One examples of this reaction of isolation, which I can remember from my own life, was from my English teacher in my freshman year of high school. I remembered praying with our church for his family (when we were members of that church), but I couldn’t ever remember seeing him at the church meetings. I knew that they were members of the church, though. So one day I caught him in the halls at school and asked him if he was still a member of that church and if he still did not attend. He replied, “Yes.” I asked him why he never went and he told me that He did not believe that he needed to go to church to be a Christian. Further, he also said that he felt that he could worship God better by himself in the presence of God’s creation.

At the time I remember thinking, “Good enough.” Now, though, I can see how this view could be detrimental to a Christian walk. Yeah, you don’t have to attend a fellowship of believers to be a Christian, but you must ask yourself if you are truly a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ if you do not. How can you love God whom you cannot see if you cannot love your brother whom you can see (1 John 4:20)? “God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone (Gen 2:18).’” I know that your thinking, “But, that verse is saying that Adam should not be without a wife.” Well, yeah, but this passage is setting up a general biblical principle that humans need help. We need other people to help point us to Scripture, and we need people to help us identify sin in our lives. You cannot do this Christian life alone. Mankind is not meant to live in isolation. I have quoted this before, but it’s worth repeating:
“Separation from the church is the denial of God and Christ. Hence, we must even more avoid so wicked separation. For when with all our might we are attempting to overthrow of God’s truth, we deserve to have him hurl the whole thunderbolt of his wrath to crush us…Therefore, those who more boldly than others incite defection from the church…have for the most part no other reason than by their contempt of all to show they are better than others….For because God willed that the communion of his church be maintained in this outward society, he who out of hatred of the wicked breaks the token of that society treads a path that slopes to fall from the communion of saints.” [Calvin, John, The Institutes of the Christian Religion (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1960), 1024-25 & 1030-31.]

If you are not happy with the music, the relationships, the structure, etc. of your church that doesn’t mean you should live in isolation. This is not a solution to the problems in churches. Join one that most closely reflects your biblical convictions and be a blessing to that congregation. If you do not want to be a part of a fellowship of believers ask yourself why. Then ask yourself how you might go about changing this.