Growing up in China, Eunice’s family never discussed religion. It’s safer that way. “I never had any chance to know anything about Christianity as a belief, not from family, not from school, until I attended university.” Eunice said.

She discovered Christ while visiting local churches as “field work” for an anthropology class she attended first in China then in Michigan as an exchange student. Since English is a second language for Eunice, translating sermons and liturgy was difficult, but God provided. “I fortunately found a Chinese church (near the campus) which had services in Mandarin,”.

When she returned to China, Eunice was hungry for the Gospel but fearful of government persecution. Among the challenges facing Christians in China:

•Government sanctioned churches focus on basic moral themes without delving into the Gospel.
•Church services, study and even retreats are conducted in secret. Worship is muted.
•Local pastors face imprisonment and congregants face fines. Missionaries from the United States face expulsion.
•Worship and study leaders must vet the background of prospective members to protect the group.

She attended a government-sanctioned church for a while but found it unfulfilling. “I gradually stopped my path following Jesus because I had to make excuses every Sunday morning to lie to my parents to keep them from knowing I was going to church, which is a brain-wash dangerous thing to them,” Eunice said. “And I also was afraid about what would happen to me if police came when we were worshiping.  “

Then, last year, God inspired her to seek out a “family church,” a congregation of about 50 that meets in secret. “At the end of every service, we are reminded to close the double doors so that people won’t hear us singing, … don’t talk to each other in elevators to avoid being reported, … try to avoid arriving at the same time for service.”

She and other members of her church draw strength from the experiences of the early church described by the Apostle Paul in the Book of Acts. “Our church is joyful to see the similarity of the persecution faced by early Christians in the book of Acts, … how hard and how joyful they started the journey,” Eunice said. “God is merciful in preparing us … and persecution, from our understanding, is always the way that God fulfills His plan”

(Eunice is currently attending Mariners while here on a work-study project and is growing in her faith in our services and in a LifeGroup)

By Dan Page, Volunteer Storyteller