Encountering God in History
While teaching for the first time with SALT, I indeed gained a deeper understanding of the present by learning about the past as I conducted the Church History course at a local church during the past two quarters.
Prior to the 1980s, the church in East Asia endured much adversity. Behind each saved soul lies a touching missionary story, which speaks to how the missionaries in those days overcame immense hardships under God’s grace and guidance. Even during war-time, missionaries like Minnie Vautrin who guarded a women’s college, were willing to contend with the enemy army day and night in order to rescue women and children suffering under their heel. Eventually, Minnie succumbed to exhaustion and depression, dying before the end of the war.
After that same war, despite all kinds of difficulties and dangers, bold Chinese believers worked hard and pressed on toward the far west and beyond the Himalayans to take the gospel all the way to Jerusalem, if possible. As a result, some were martyred for the Lord, while others were imprisoned, humiliated and tortured. Countless known and unknown evangelists, one after another, finished their own race on the long missionary road, yet they continue to shine brightly for the kingdom of God.
Today, believers still struggle under great strain: conditions have grown increasingly arduous and unfavorable, while the pandemic runs rampant and no one can find a way out. Some have even questioned: “Is the devil mocking the world, or is God refining this generation to prepare for another revival?” But isn’t this just an echo of voices from the past of believers who faced distress? In many ways, history indeed repeats itself: “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Thank God for giving me the opportunity to teach Church History. Learning from the faith heroes of the past and their perseverance in faithfulness, I can see the sovereignty of God across all time, down through the ages. I simply need to fix my eyes upon Him with all my heart, so that I can view everything in a new light, and perceive that all things are under His providence.
So let us encourage one another: if you fail to see the way ahead, look back at God’s deeds in the past. You will realize that God is always faithful throughout history, because “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.” (Psalm 29:10)