Last Sunday, while many churches were being raided and attacked across China, a radical baptism ceremony for 176 new believers was held in Penglai Church, in China’s coastal Shandong province.
The believers at Penglai, also known as Wulin Shenghui Baptist Church of Penglai Shandong province, might seem a little bolder than other churches in China, but that is because they have a special secret. Their church has been officially recognized as one of the major historical and cultural sites protected by the Chinese government and is officially designated as Lottie Moon’s home church.
The church was built in 1872 and boldly supported by a courageous 4ft 3in Southern Baptist missionary by the name of Lottie Moon, who made a lasting impact in China. She stayed in China even when all the other missionaries were leaving. She stood with the Shandong Chinese when they faced plague, famine, revolution, and war. During the First Sino-Japanese War (1894) – she stayed. During the Boxer Rebellion (1900) when the Chinese killed every missionary they could find – she stayed. When civil war broke out with Chinese Nationalist uprising and millions were slaughtered – she stayed. At her death in 1912, at the age of 72, she only weighed 50 pounds.
She was a bold fighter and many of the Christians in Penglai honor her memory by continuing to preach the Gospel message and baptize new believers in spite of the increased persecution in China. Today, the church has over 4,000 members even though they can only seat 1,700.
At 7 am on Sunday, Pastor Ning Shubing shared a passionate message about the importance of baptism called, “Dying with Jesus” and afterwards began baptizing new believers one-by-one.
The story of Lottie is, in some ways, the story of the Chinese church.
Lottie Moon is said to have had a brief courtship with well known Bible professor Crawford Toy. They were mutually attracted to one another and stayed in correspondence by mail after Lottie sailed to China to be a missionary.
There was rumor that they would soon get engaged. Lottie told her fellow missionaries that she would return to the US to be married in September of 1881, but the wedding never occurred. Toy began to challenge the authority and reliability of Scripture and embrace the idea of evolution. He left the seminary and became a professor at Harvard that did not allow female professors, or embrace the idea of a female missionary like Lottie Moon.
Lottie broke off the engagement and abandoned her romance to remain in China for the rest of her life, because she could not abandon her true Love of Scripture or the mission that God gave her.
In a strange way, Chinese Christians can perhaps identify with this story because they love their country deeply, but their leaders have embraced the idea of evolution and that has turned them against the teaching of Scripture. This forces so many Chinese Christians to make a very difficult choice.
The 176 Chinese Christians that were newly baptized on Sunday had to make that same difficult choice. Once they chose to follow the authority of Scripture, they would forever be incompatible with a system that demands that they embrace atheism.
Please continue to pray for the believers in China and the churches that are seeing an increase in persecution, as well as an increase in revival.