Our church continues to focus on examing what exactly it means to be participants in the Kingdom of God. Part of it, is certainly a worldwide focus on evangelism and the concerns of the universal church. I recall one recent Sheep article I did, the quote was given to me that 96% of money given in American churches, is used for American church buildings, salaries, etc. Certainly this is not the model and call we receive from scripture, where it was common for money/resources to be given generously for impoverished/suffering people.

This week’s World Magazine reminded me, why American’s must wake from our self-centerdness. The cost of being a Christian in much of the world is severe. We need to help them as we have been put in a position of financial blessings (at the cost of spiritual focus?). Here is an excerpt from the article, Arrest First, ask questions later (requires free subscription):

The South China Church is the most severely persecuted house church in the country, said Mr. Fu. The main reason, he said, is the churches’ “strong emphasis on evangelism and cultural renewal, and of course a very strong leadership.”

In 2001, authorities arrested founding pastor Gong Shengliang. They initially handed death sentences to him and four other church leaders, but later commuted them. Mr. Gong is now serving a life sentence and reportedly suffers physical abuse in prison. Four female church members served three years in re-education camps for recanting forced statements saying Mr. Gong had raped them.

One of the women, 34-year-old Liu Xianzhi, spent six years altogether in a camp, her first stint ordered for illegally evangelizing. She made rugs and Christmas lights before her release in February 2004. A year later, she escaped to the United States and spoke tearfully at a Washington press conference about the torture used against her to extract a confession against Mr. Gong. Officers beat her with an electrical rod, hung her by her hair until she lost consciousness, and tore her clothes off.