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Trouble -- the doorway to God's Kingdom: a faith based story from the Story Powerline
3/25/2021 4:00:00 AM by: Becky Cerling Powers

My friend Ruth Tsai told me that when the Chinese government allowed her 82-year-old American mother to return to the U.S. from mainland China in the 1970’s, it was her mother’s habit never to speak aloud the name of Jesus or the name of God. Instead, whenever she referred to God, she would silently lift her index finger and point to heaven.

Why wouldn’t Mom speak God’s name?

“People must have thought this old lady is half crazy,” Ruth said. “Why won’t she say ‘Jesus’ or ‘our Heavenly Father’ or ‘God?’”

But Ruth explained that after living for 40 years in China, it took a while for her mother to learn to drop the habits she developed from living in an anti-Christian terrorist state where she needed to protect her loved ones.

Under surveillance whether inside or outside prison

The Chinese government branded Mrs. Tsai and her family with the label of “counter-revolutionary” because they refused to join the state church and betray fellow Christians. Mrs. Tsai’s Chinese husband, son-in-law, and one of her daughters were all imprisoned for being counter-revolutionaries. Only the daughter survived prison.

The government kept such close watch on the family, inside or outside of prison, that for Mrs. Tsai, paranoid thinking was realistic thinking. She really was being watched all the time, especially during the Cultural Revolution, which was still going on at the time she came back to America.

A practical solution

If a Christian believer visited her in her home, or met her on the street, the police would be watching. They might stop the believer five minutes later and grill them. “What did she say to you? Did she mention Jesus? Did she mention God? What were your thoughts about the conversation?”

For Mrs. Tsai and other believers, it was a dangerous business to encourage one another’s faith. The police might arrest the person afterward because of what you said, or they might harass them by arresting their son or daughter instead.

The same day Ruth told me this story, I read these verses in the Bible in Acts 14:21-22

And when they (Paul and Barnabus) had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium (where Paul had been stoned and left for dead), and Antioch (the church that had commissioned and sent them out), strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (my italics)

The path to the kingdom of God

 “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God,” Paul and Barnabus said. But this is not the way we in the American church think at all. Through years of religious freedom and economic good times, we have lost this perspective. Difficulties and tribulations surprise us, over and over.

Today’s prayer

Lord, I am asking for your kingdom to come and your will to be done in my life today as it is in heaven. I have this difficulty today: ____________. I invite you to bring your kingdom into this situation, and I pray that I will cooperate with your will in this situation. Please give me the attitude and understanding I need to do your will cheerfully today. Amen.

 

© 2010 Becky Cerling Powers

Reprint with attribution only (www.beckypowers.com)

Part of the Tsai family story has been published in Laura’s Children: the hidden story of a Chinese orphanage by Becky Cerling Powers in the Bookstore or on amazon.com

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Trouble -- the doorway to God's Kingdom: a faith based story from the Story Powerline
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