It seems as though people are thinking more about the laws governing them now more than ever. The coronavirus pandemic has brought about all kinds of behavior, both from individuals and governments. All the while, Christians across the world are preaching the gospel despite what the laws of their country may say. The interesting topics guide this conversation between Eugene and Pastor Jamie as they wrestle with the question, “how should Christians relate to government?”
Transcript of the Podcast :
[00:00:00] Eugene: [00:00:00] I’m Eugene Bach, your host for this time, and I’m coming to you live on delay from somewhere within the borders of Sweden, but it’s not Sweden and actually that we’re talking about today, it’s actually, there’s a pastor that I’ve, I think I’ve only met a couple of times, but I’ve really loved being around him.
[00:00:18] He wrote a question that I was. I was thinking about answering, but I thought, what if we actually brought this onto the podcast so everybody could kind of hear what we’re actually discussing? Uh, pastor Jamie, you there? Yeah, I’m here. Thank you so much, brother, for coming on to the back of Jerusalem podcast.
[00:00:36] This is, I’m really excited about this.
[00:00:39] Jamie: [00:00:39] Yeah, no, I’m, it’s awesome to have this opportunity to pick your brain and find out what you’ve learned from your experiences.
[00:00:46] Eugene: [00:00:46] Well, I hope that we’ll be able to, you know, learn from one another. Can you, just, for our audience who doesn’t know anything about you, uh, could you just give a, an introduction about who you are, where you’re from.
[00:00:58] Jamie: [00:00:58] Yeah, sure. I’m pastoring in a small town in Alberta, Canada, and, uh, yeah, we’ve been at our church about just about five years, and it’s a church just down the road from, um, my wife’s home territory, so it’s pretty exciting to be so close to home. And, um. Yeah. We’ve been following back to Jerusalem for quite a while.
[00:01:20] We’ve been blessed to have brother income and visit us, and we’ve had you, Eugene as well. And uh, yeah. I’m, I’m convinced that. You know, looking around the world, God is doing so many incredible things. And sometimes in North America we get a narrative about how the church is failing and that’s just not true.
[00:01:39] And so I love hearing the perspective of the global church, especially on prickly issues that our own church hasn’t perhaps dealt with as critically as others have had to in the past.
[00:01:54] Eugene: [00:01:54] When, um, I don’t know when people will listen to this podcast. Maybe some people listen right away. Some people it might, they might go back to the archive, you know, uh, weeks or months or maybe even years from now, who knows?
[00:02:05] But just to kind of put things in perspective, the world is kind of a lockdown right now. It’s a really, really unique situation with the Corona virus. Where um, governments around the world have had to take strong measures to protect their people. And that has sparked a very interesting debate. One in which I am pretty familiar with.
[00:02:28] I’m definitely not an expert. I’m an observer. So the information that I have is more of being in the. Cheerleading squad or whatever for, you know, those persecuted believers. I’ve, even though I have worked in those nations, I’ve had the parachute of having a Western passport, and that really does make all the difference.
[00:02:52] So I don’t ever want to pretend or come across that I am somehow in the same category as these brothers and sisters in Christ that. Are persecuted for their faith. I’m in the same geographic location as they are, but the laws that apply to them, the facts that apply to them don’t really apply to me.
[00:03:15] I’ve, so that’s why I feel that I’m somebody that. Has learned from observation, but the way that foreign governments treat me is in fact different. So I, I really am in the same boat as you, as an observer, learning from the Chinese house church or the persecuted church in general. And you wrote me a message.
[00:03:42] That I thought was so timely because, um, I have been asked several times, uh, you know, is there a connection or what can we learn from the Chinese church or are we actually facing anything close to what the Chinese have faced or will face or are facing? Um, you wrote me, I’m just going to read a bit of the, the, the message that you wrote.
[00:04:05] It says, um, you said, I don’t know if you could ever deal with this in a podcast. But one of the questions that I’ve been interested in for years is the proper understanding of how Christians ought to relate to government. Not surprising that the Christian, the question is rearing its head more in our current setting, the current setting being, you know, the lockdown that we’ve been seeing, um, around the world.
[00:04:26] What has been your experience as a pastor, um, in Canada during this time of a lockdown.
[00:04:34] Jamie: [00:04:34] Well here in Alberta. I mean, I think that, um, our government has tried to be proactive, but they haven’t been as restrictive as even within Canada. Most provinces have been. So we’ve been pretty blessed. I mean, we are still able to gather in groups of 15 or less, and there’s certain indications that our chief medical officer is mindful of the fact that, uh.
[00:04:55]No religious activity is important for people who belong to religious faith and, uh, and she’s made efforts. And, uh, you know, I think it’s worth weighing whether she’s made enough or not, but not with, um, you know, not with. A, an angry attitude or anything to reactionary. Um, so we haven’t been in total lockdown.
[00:05:18] She’s even encouraged us to have a cohort family. So instead of just locking your doors and staying inside with your immediate family, you could have one other family that you’re in close proximity with. And I understand that most people haven’t had that privilege. Um. Across even North America, but really all across the world.
[00:05:35] And so I think the biggest challenge is just. You know, in this situation, I don’t just want to, you know, survive Corona virus and then move on and not have learned anything. I think there, there’s interesting question that perennial question of the church and government, uh, becomes more interesting in our current setting.
[00:05:55] And so I want to learn from this and sharpen myself even far beyond it. And, uh, and, you know, the scriptures do speak about, um. About a coming day when it won’t be easy to tell your left hand from your right hand. I mean, Jesus speaks of it as, um, as a deception. So strong, it would deceive the elect if possible.
[00:06:13] And so I just, I want to get smarter. I want to have more wisdom and not just knowledge, but that, um, discernment that comes when you listen to God’s people. And so that’s kind of why I reached out to you.
[00:06:24] Eugene: [00:06:24] You know, I’ve, um, you are in the Northern hemisphere and I think most countries that are in the Northern hemisphere have handled this situation, you know, outside of Asians, North hemisphere, um, a little bit different.
[00:06:37] I’m, you’re in Canada. I’m talking to you from Sweden, uh, here in Sweden. We actually didn’t have any lockdown. Um, I’ve, I’ve been attending fellowship every week. Um, like our, our church is actually open. It’s a state church. It’s not a radical church. It’s, it’s the, it’s the state Lutheran church. Uh, supported by the government of Sweden and, uh, they’ve kept their doors open and there has been, you know, uh, independent free churches as we call them here.
[00:07:03]Um, that ha they chose to close their doors because it would, they felt that it wasn’t safe, but there was no government obligation outside of this size. Like if you had a certain group of people that was a certain size, then, then there would be government restrictions. But for the most part, they’ve been pretty relaxed here in Sweden.
[00:07:22]Um, and of course, I’m in the Northern part of Sweden as well. So I’m not just in Northern part of Europe. I’m in Northern Sweden where we don’t have a lot of, uh, people living in densely populated, um, urban areas. Uh, but what we have seen in Western communities, which has our Western countries, uh, that has cost concern and has sparked the interest for this conversation is that, uh, we’ve seen governments that have said.
[00:07:50] No church meetings at all in person, and that if you want to meet, you have to meet online. Um, if you, and of course there have been a large number of Christians that have been in support of these government directives, and there has been, I least, if I was to gauge my own friendship on Facebook, I would say that the number of believers that I have.
[00:08:18] As my Facebook friends who support operations in China that are in support of complete lockdown and you stay home and that includes going to church. I would say over 60 to 70% of my friends on social media are of that opinion, and then I have 40 to 30% of my friends, or let’s say that they’re either, they either believe that the government should not have that.
[00:08:47] Authority or there’s been so many people that have been, remained quiet about it that maybe I don’t really have a good feel of what the real numbers are. Maybe it’s maybe the feel that I’m actually getting the 60 40 to 70 30 then I’m actually sharing with you might actually be just the loudest people in the room that there might be a much larger majority on one side or the other that just hasn’t really voiced their opinion on social media.
[00:09:14] And one of the reasons why I’m so glad that you’re willing to come on and talk about this is because I hate that there are a lot of people that are looking to spiritual leaders for what their direction is like. Um, I, I, one of the things that took me by surprise is by listening to a woman. This is a different subject, but it’s kind of on the same idea.
[00:09:36] There’s a woman that you might be familiar with, I don’t know. Her name is Abby Johnson, and she is a former abortion clinic director, and she became one of the most well known because she. Had been promoted as the director of a planned Parenthood facility at the youngest age of anybody in the history of planned Parenthood.
[00:09:56] And one of the reasons why she was promoted so early is because she was able to perform so many abortions and become such a profitable facility. In such a short time at a young age. And because of that, um, she was, you know, highly regarded in those circles. But when she came out, um, of being a provider of abortion and she was convicted by God, and she began to share with people around the world about the horrors that take place with abortion, one of the things that absolutely shocked me to the core was when she said.
[00:10:31] The majority, the overwhelming majority, like 85, 90% of her clients are Christian women. And she said, we don’t have an abortion problem. We have a church problem. And one of the reasons why I love, um, you and I discussing this situation is because not saying that we come out with the right advice or the the proper way forward, but Christian leaders.
[00:11:00] Who are spiritual, uh, um, counselors or spiritual leaders or shepherds for their community. They have to be able to share the voice of what the Bible says so that the community can benefit. Have you seen that at all in Canada where people, Christians or Christian communities have felt threatened by, um, these new.
[00:11:26] Lockdowns these new laws, these new rules that are put in place for people’s health.
[00:11:34] Jamie: [00:11:34] Yeah, I would say so. I would say the biggest thing, and the thing I’d encourage is just a careful weighing of things. Um, the, like you described in Sweden, we haven’t had to shut down church services entirely. Alberta is, I haven’t heard of any other provinces, but Alberta, uh, considered really places of worship, um, an essential service.
[00:11:53] And so our office has been open through the week. We’re able to meet, I usually do with one or two families to worship, though we take some precautions. Um, and yet in our area, we just wonder, like, there’s so many questions and. And the political ones aren’t the primary ones I’m interested in. It’s the spiritual ones.
[00:12:12] But the question of, um, you know, how do we relate w not when we’re given direction from a government, but when we are forcibly closed by a government through law, um, you know, how does a Christian respond to that? Um, is that, um, a matter for concern? Um. As opposed to exercising wisdom that the government gives us, you know, actually having worship control.
[00:12:37]Um, and you know, the biggest thing for me is our primary allegiance. As believers in Christ is to Christ, which means that, you know, I don’t know precisely how it, how it fleshes itself out in our current situation, but it means that controversy at some level is totally unavoidable. Um, you know, I think in the West, our track to, um.
[00:13:01]Bearing witness to our neighbor has been such a form of conformity to the way they live and what they expect in the world. That at some, sometimes we actually abandoned the chance to witness to something different. And plus when it’s comfortable, when they’re, when they’re chasing comfort and we chase comfort.
[00:13:21]Um, then we also, we can, you know, uh, dilute ourselves and. Our gospel can become, um, a little watered down. And so, yeah, we’ve seen certainly, uh, in conversations with our own leadership at our church and, uh, with other churches around the area. You know, none of us have been hardline, but we’ve been just saying, okay, what can we learn about this?
[00:13:45] And, and there’s a whole bunch of new questions, like one of the big ones. Is. So what is essential to Christian worship? How often does it have to happen? We haven’t had to ask ourselves that question a long time in North America, I don’t think. But I look at our, um, you know, we have brothers and sisters in Christ and the Catholic and Orthodox church, uh, who, who believe Eucharist is essential to their experience of God.
[00:14:10] And for them, I wonder how they’re scratching their heads over this because, uh, you know. We talked about, well, his singing essential and his meeting in. Person to person, essential for them. It’s, we have to take the Eucharist, the Lord’s table, um, in order for worship to be complete. And so there are another group that I would be interested in knowing their opinion, but I don’t expect you to speak for them.
[00:14:33] You did share however, that, uh, that the church that you were attending in Sweden was continuing to offer the Eucharist, is that correct?
[00:14:40] Eugene: [00:14:40] Yeah, it was, uh, it was, you know, communion Sunday. And, um, and my wife and I remember we pulled up into the parking lot and I was like, there’s no stinking way they’re going to give communion.
[00:14:53] I mean, it’s, I just, I didn’t, I thought that there was just no way. I just thought, you know, the, the thought of it was funny. And it’s a Lutheran church. It’s a state Lutheran church, which means they have one cup. So it’s not the, you know, you, you hand out, I don’t know what you guys have at your church service, but I think many people in our audience might be used to nondenominational or, or charismatic church services or even some conservative church services where you kind of have this, this, um.
[00:15:24] Uh, Lord’s supper kit, right? They all kind of look the same. We have this big silver round dish that holds all the drinks, uh, you know, and that gets passed down the different pews. And then you take one, uh, some churches like the one that I attend in China, uh, we are in a special facility where we’re not allowed to eat or drink in the church.
[00:15:43] So what they do is they hold it at the door. Front. And then you walk up and you grab from one of the elders, um, one small little personal juice, and then one little, you know, prepared factory made, uh, bread representing the, the 11 bread. And, um, that’s, that is not the way it’s done at the Lutheran church because the Lutherans have that background of Catholicism.
[00:16:06] So it’s one, one bread. You break off a piece and it’s, you know, one. Glass and then you drink from it. And, uh, and we did it. And I have to tell you, um, I was okay with it, but I was also okay with people that felt for health reasons. They did not want to do that. And there was nobody in the church, by the way, that did not want to do that.
[00:16:31] And I felt at that moment, now this is me personally, I’m not putting any sort of. Spiritual labeling on this. I’m not, you know, trying to authorize one way or the other, or, or, uh, I, I’m just telling you how I felt in that moment. I, there are times, and you know, the Bible tells us very clearly that we need to examine our hearts.
[00:16:55] We have to purge ourselves of the sin. We have to forgive, ask God to forgive us for our sins and take part in the Lord’s supper. With great reflection, trembling, and knowing that if we do so in an unclean manner, it is a very dangerous proposition. That this is a very serious thing. And even though I like to believe I take it serious every time at that moment, it meant more to me than it has in a while because it was special that I was doing something.
[00:17:30] That many people in the world could not do, and I didn’t think that I would have the opportunity and to be able to do that together with other believers as well as the priest that was there was such. An amazing experience. It was. It was definitely one that humbled me. So yeah, we were, we were also partaking of the Lord’s supper, you know, as, um, it, Paul wrote in his, in his letter to the Corinthians that, you know, when you meet together, partake in this and remember the suffering of the Lord, this, this is.
[00:18:07] That’s what I believe that we are. You know, we are called to do. How often, you know, I don’t think that we can really make a religious sanction on that, but, um, I, I’m going to say that I can tell you this. I meet together with the Chinese and underground house church on a regular basis. We very rarely meet on Sunday.
[00:18:30] Because Sunday is when the law is really looking out for the Chinese to meet. So that’s why they can actually take some pressure off of themselves if they meet on a day other than Sunday. And we don’t often take the Lord’s supper together just because it may not be convenient to bring it in, but when we do, it is special.
[00:18:50] So we don’t have in China. We don’t have a schedule. It’s not weekly. It’s not monthly. It’s not, you know, every third of the month or whatever. Um, it’s when the leader proposes it, that’s when you do it. And we do it as often as we can, but during this time, let me just, let me just share this really quick and throw this out there because this is something that you, as a pastor, I’m certain that you have been faced with, um, that.
[00:19:17] The government were to, by the way, I didn’t know that about Canada. I’m so glad that you said that, that that is amazing that they considered the churches to be essential services. Cause that’s kind of where I stand. That I believe that if churches are not essential during the time of crisis, when are they ever, um, I mean, people are committing suicide.
[00:19:38] Families are losing their jobs. Uh, parents are looking at divorce. Children are looking at, you know, um, issues with whether they even matter in this world or not. I mean, you have so many responsibilities as a pastor for the wellbeing of your community that you are absolutely an essential, uh, need in my opinion.
[00:19:59] But let me, let me ask this because I’m sure you’ve heard this. Where people have quoted from Matthew chapter 13 I’m sorry, Romans chapter 13. That starts off by saying, um, all of you must yield to the government rulers. No one rules unless God has given him power to rule and no one rules now without the power from God.
[00:20:23] And so this has been a scripture that has been repeated over and over by those that. Are demanding, for lack of a better word, everybody else abide by government laws and go on lock down. And that includes government, uh, shutdowns of churches in certain areas. Obviously didn’t reach your area, but if it did reach your area, what would be your response, do you think?
[00:20:51] And, and, and what, what would you say for those that, you know, would quote this scripture.
[00:20:58]Jamie: [00:20:58] Uh, I think my response would be to call Eugene and ask them, what would a Chinese faster. So, um,
[00:21:04] Eugene: [00:21:04] I will give you bad advice every time. Pastor Jamie,
[00:21:10]Jamie: [00:21:10] uh, you know. One of the ways that even this week, I spoke to my church about this, that I do theology is in so many of the topics that we see in scripture, there’s, there’s two poles.
[00:21:21] If you think of it as a spectrum, there’s the one thing set over here and the other over here. So that could be, you know, uh. A polarization of teaching on faith versus works or a freewill versus predestination, or in this case, a subjection to government or resistance to government. And we certainly see both of those present in scripture.
[00:21:43] We see, uh, Daniel refusing, I mean, my wife pointed out to me last night something I’d forgotten that, that there was the law not to pray to any other God. And it was only for 30 days. Couldn’t, Daniel have gone 30 days without praying, and instead he immediately, he’s on his knees facing Jerusalem and praying.
[00:22:02]Um, and we see Shadrach and Meshach and Abednego in a sense. You know, the fight came to them, but in a sense they, even, they made it a little bit worse because they even say to the King, they say, we want you to know. We will not bow down to your God. And, and then of course you have, uh, the apostles, Peter and John in acts chapter four that you tell us should we obey God or man.
[00:22:26] And so it’s a careful way. And you know, one thing I’ve learned in my walk with Jesus is that it’s not just about. General principles. It’s about the constant need for direction from a living and present Lord. And, uh, and that applies to, I think, our current situation as well, that just caring in general principles won’t be enough to answer questions today, let alone tomorrow.
[00:22:50] And, um, and so we need to weigh both sides of the story. If, if there was a complete shutdown of churches, you know, it would be a weighing of, uh, so for how long. Um, what kind of health are individuals in my church in? And after a while, you know, uh, it’s too late. We got it. We got to move and we got her. We got to do something that we’re not allowed to do.
[00:23:11] And that with council, right. Not a vigilante attitude, but, um, responding to the situation as it is. You know, one of the things. That we can’t abandon. I think in this question is that as Christians, we don’t just speak the same language as the world around us. We certainly can. We share their concern for life, but physical life is not our ultimate, um, our ultimate importance.
[00:23:38]Uh. You know, we’ve been sending missionaries as Protestants for about 300 years all over the world. Some of them with all their belongings in a casket because, and we’re happy to send them because we know that they’ll die on the mission field or once did. And yet the value of a soul is so important that it’s worth an incalculable number of lives.
[00:24:00] Now in this situation, it’s a bit different cause we’re. The way we’re talking about it is we’re putting other lives in jeopardy, but there has to be something distinct about Christian response. Uh, I remember a professor when I was in seminary saying, if a person who doesn’t believe in God can explain everything about your worship and about the way you live your life, then there’s no room for God in your life.
[00:24:23] You’re just living like them. And so that’s, that’s something we can’t rush into, but that should be waiting in our minds. I think.
[00:24:31] Eugene: [00:24:31] Yeah. I, you know, as, as I share, you know, from the Chinese experience, I have to tell you that, um, Christians are divided on even what we do in China with the Chinese house church.
[00:24:46] Greatly divided. Um, I can tell you that I don’t know if, um, if, if you heard me share on a podcast, but I, there, there’s one event that took place in Canada where I was, I felt the, I won’t say it’s the loneliest I’ve ever felt, but it was, it was really lonely. I felt really abandoned alone. Um, could have, could have really used a, uh.
[00:25:10] Uh, the comfort of my wife during that time and, um, and I didn’t have it. So the reason I felt alone was this, let me just kind of explain this for the audience. Um, a little bit. Just back up, I was in Canada to do an interview on a TV station about what was taking place inside of China. At that moment, there had been an individual who had been arrested and put in jail in China at the same time.
[00:25:34] And I had worked with this person prior to their arrest. And so while they were in incarceration, I had been praying for them and just really thinking about them. I didn’t reach out in any way to try to connect with them. I don’t really like doing that sometimes with people that I don’t know that well because I kind of feel like I’m a part of a, a wide number of noisy voices that are just trying to get contact with somebody.
[00:25:59] You know? And so I didn’t want to be one of those people clamoring and, and bugging them or trying to get something out of them. Like I just wanted to pray for them. But I did find it to be an extreme honor when I found out that we were actually both in the green room at the same time. This person had their interview on Canadian TV at the, at on the same day.
[00:26:23] And, um, I just, they were, I really regarded them as a hero in the faith. I mean, they had been arrested. They had gone through some really hard times, and especially as I sat there in the studio and listened to them share about their experience. Um, I just, I, my. My respect and honor for them just continue to grow.
[00:26:44] And, um, and, and I think that there are times, you know, maybe because the way I grew up, I might, um, sometimes I can easily feel like, uh, you know. Easily feel like I’m being rejected. And so I really sometimes maybe go a little bit on the far side of trying to get people to accept me. Um, and it’s, that’s kind of a thing that I’ve been dealing with, but I would have really loved, I mean, I can really.
[00:27:09] I won’t say I don’t care, but I’m pretty much don’t. I pretty much don’t care what non-Christians think of me, but I do have a certain level of desire to be accepted by Christians that, that you know that I’m around and I definitely have a strong desire to be accepted by those that I admire. And so I really admired this, the, the, the person that went through this.
[00:27:35] And, um, and then after they did their, their interview, I did my interview and then after I did my interview, the TV station director kind of came out and they said, they said to me, who got you this appointment? And I said, uh, somebody from the TV station called my office and, and arranged everything. I didn’t talk to anybody and they said, we’re not gonna be able to use what you, just, what you just talked about.
[00:28:01] And it’s understanding with this person. I’m surrounded by several people in the studio, all of them, you know, really great believers. I’d had an amazing time talking with, with this person who had been, you know, incarcerated inside of China for an extended amount of time. And. All of a sudden, all these eyes were on me and it was what you do in China.
[00:28:25] We can’t really get behind because it’s not honest. And then not directly, but indirectly. The person that I really admired began to talk about how they operated. Openly in China. And everything that they did was honest. And everything that they did was above board. And none of it was secret. And none of it because secret in, in, and they said this, uh, specifically being secret is the same as lying.
[00:28:52] And when you lie in a, in a, in a country like China, you lose your testimony. And so now I’m surrounded by these believers that all have this really, it’s almost like this, this herd chant of, you know, the way to do missions and foreign countries is to go there and be honest about what you’re doing. And, uh, my whole story there was how we are bringing the gospel undercover.
[00:29:22] How we are using different methods of sneaking the gospel into different communities inside of China and North Korea. And that was considered to be dishonest. That was considered to be lying, and that was considered to be a, um, a bad testimony for, uh, Christians around the world and a, a possible handicap for missionaries in the future.
[00:29:47] I walked out of there with my head hanging low. I felt like scum, absolute scum, and I felt like, you know, that, that there were two very strong sides, but at that moment, I couldn’t remember why I actually do missions the way that I do missions. At that moment, I felt like a loser. And the reason I bring this up is because I don’t think that they’re necessarily wrong, and I don’t think that I’m necessarily right.
[00:30:19] What I do is not legal. When I work in North Korea, when I work in Iran, when I work and I use I inclusively, and I should not do that. But when I say I am talking about me and my friends that are Chinese missionaries that we support, and, um, what our activities. Or the opposite of legal. They’re like the worst crime that you could commit in these different nations.
[00:30:43] So then the question becomes, do we abide by. Romans chapter 13 to the letter, or is there a, is there a, a picture that is bigger that if we pluck from this one verse, will we misunderstand something? And I think that we often do that. And you and I both. Pastor Jamie, you and I both live in an environment where, um, pastors often get ideas and I know it because I’m also, they’re like, I’m not a pastor, but I often teach and sometimes I have ideas and I just need scripture to fit those ideas.
[00:31:20] And so I find that scripture or that story that fits my idea. And then I teach you my idea as if it’s scripture by backing it up with scripture. Does that make sense? Yep. And so what happens oftentimes is God’s word gets butchered and massacred in twisted and perverted by much greater men than me. Um, and sometimes it’s done innocently and sometimes not so innocently.
[00:31:50] I mean, we see that Satan, when Satan went to tip Jesus, he didn’t just randomly pull out ideas from the sky. He actually quoted God’s words to Jesus. And, but he perverted them in the way that they were displayed. And when I look at Romans chapter 13 I don’t, I want to be very careful because as I serve the Chinese, I want to be honest with you and tell you I’m not looking for a loophole out of Romans chapter 13 I want to know the truth, even if it crucifies me, even if I have to admit that everything that I believe is wrong.
[00:32:30] Because this scripture has to be true. And so I’m, I’m looking at the scripture and I come to the same. Um, conclusion that so many other Christians have, you know, in places where churches have been shut down, I come to the same conclusion as those that work that I believe can work condemning me. If you ask them, they would, they would, most certainly, they’re loving believing Christians.
[00:32:54] The, what I’m telling you is what the, the way that I felt, I, I don’t think that they intentionally did anything towards me. They didn’t attack me. Uh, with, with maliciousness. Right? They weren’t, they weren’t trying to get me. Um, I believe that they loved me, but I just felt excluded from their club at that moment.
[00:33:13]Um, I don’t believe that they were, they were wrong. I don’t believe that our two approaches are salvation, essentially, where if you choose one side or the other, you’re going to go to hell. Um, so this is, this is what I’ve learned from the Chinese. I apologize, pastor Jamie, I’m, I’m talking a lot here. Uh, but I, I just wanted to say that before I get to the part where, uh, where I believe I have learned from the Chinese, because this is a question, like, should the Chinese just openly, boldly, strongly stand out in the open and declare the name of God.
[00:33:52] Against what the government regulations are, or should they declare the name of God in a way that the government allows? And I think that that’s a really tough question because I’ve seen it done both ways and I think both ways are right depending on how God is moving. And I can’t dictate. How God moves.
[00:34:14] I can say this, in the studies that I’ve done, I come to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, like you said, when they, when they defied Nebuchadnezzar law and said, no, we will not bow. And even if our God doesn’t deliver us, he has the power to. But even if he doesn’t, we still will not bow to your law. And, uh, and you then also referred to acts chapter five.
[00:34:42] Where the disciples were brought before the Sanhedrin because they were doing, they were preaching the gospel and they weren’t supposed to, and the Roman guards brought them like, okay, you’re breaking the law. And we feel a little scared because we know that the crowds may react towards us, so we’re going to bring you to the local leadership, the scene Hedron because under the Roman rule, there was an autonomous newness of the Sanhedrin.
[00:35:06] They could judge you. They just couldn’t. Kill you. They couldn’t give you the, the, the, the, the, they could do everything else, but they couldn’t kill you under Roman law. And so they were brought before the Sanhedrin. And that’s when, um, they, it said, we must obey God over man. And so we have these two kind of, uh, different approaches in China.
[00:35:29] The only thing that I can say is this, the Chinese are some of the most. Government, loving law abiding citizens and all of China. And when I read Romans chapter 13 I read it may be a little bit different than than others. Do you know when Jesus went and sat down with the sinners and ate with them and dined with them, he was attacked by the Pharisees and the religious leaders because he was eating with sinners.
[00:36:02] And. Tax collectors. I mean the Sanhedrin, put the two in the same category. The Pharisees put the two in the same category. Why were you eating with the sinners. And the tax collectors as if that’s one in the same. And the reason why is, and then we see that with Kias, we see that with tax collectors, they were considered to be, um, people that carried out the Roman rule.
[00:36:25] And the Romans were occupiers. The when, when the, when the Jews, even the disciples themselves, when they looked for a Messiah. They were not looking for Jesus. They were looking for a Messiah who would be a military commander like David, and come back and give them freedom from the oppressors of the Roman occupiers.
[00:36:48] And they, they had grand visions of someone who would come and deliver them and fight their way out. And we see kind of a little bit of that in the Maccabean period. But when you, when we look at who. Um, uh, Paul was writing to, in the book of Romans, he was writing to the church, the Jew Jewish church in Rome, and they were an occupied territory.
[00:37:13] They were among people that they didn’t really care for and people didn’t want to pay their taxes. That was, I think, and I’m not making excuses, I’m just saying that this is one side of that scripture. And when I am in China. We believe in completely following the law. We believe in paying our taxes regardless of whether you know, we believe in communism or not.
[00:37:38] If that’s the law, then that’s what we do. We believe in doing all of our books openly and by law we, we, if, if the government requires us to give over our home. Our car. Um, if they require for, you know, our children to attend a certain school, if they’re all of these different laws that China has put in place, that the Chinese Christians abide by, what laws do they not abide by?
[00:38:06] Those that go against God’s word, his requirement for Christians that we have a command that is much greater, not just greater than men. It’s greater than us. That it’s not just that I’m disobeying your law. I’m disobeying the laws of nature in the way that I’m not even taking into consideration my own self interests.
[00:38:30] When I go into certain areas and preach the gospel together with the Chinese, their lives are on the line. It is against the ideas of rational behavior. The, the laws of reason are broken. When you go into an area and you preach the gospel and in a place where your life may be required from you for sharing that exact message, but God has given us this command and we have to carry out this command, even if it goes against the laws of man.
[00:39:06] Now, not everybody agrees with that. I w I’ve been confronted by many believers that are much more well versed in the in, in scripture than I am. Probably spend more time on their knees than I do are probably closer to heaven in their prayers than I am that have come to me and say, and have said that we have to abide by the law of the nation.
[00:39:31] And that means everything has to be done according to the laws of China. The laws of North Korea, the laws of Iran. And if those laws prohibit it today, there will be a day when we can do it. And it will all be in God’s timing.
[00:39:48] Jamie: [00:39:48] Yeah. Well that, that argument, I think it’s valuable because it brings the, like I’m talking about the two poles of subjection and resistance, um, and you struggle to find, so where’s scripture really leading us between the two?
[00:40:03] But. Uh, I mean, it eventually it breaks down because at some level there is disobedience no matter what. Uh, I mean, whether. Whether it’s that you assemble with your family to pray or, I mean in North Korea, just having a Bible is illegal, right? Are we seriously not going to put Bibles into people’s hands because it’s against the law?
[00:40:23] And you say it’s not a matter of salvation, which opinion you take on that track and, and on one respect the way you meant, it’s absolutely true. But I would push back and play devil’s advocate a little bit because it is a matter of salvation for that person who never has a chance to come to faith.
[00:40:39] Because you’ve remained within the law, and that’s a different situation that I’m dealing with in Alberta today. I don’t want to conflate those two. Um, but that is a matter of salvation. Uh, I think North Korea is probably an easier example. Um, Somalia might be in some way though. They don’t have a central law like, uh, like, like North Korea does.
[00:40:58] So it’s harder to say what’s against the law, but you know. Do we seriously just let generation after generation of North Koreans perish in order to maintain the laws of a dictator who’s called himself God and erected himself against the one true God? My answer to that is an absolute no, no. We cannot possibly abandon those people even though it puts us in that moral dilemma of wanting to be subject to leaders and as far as we can.
[00:41:27]Um, but the other thing you mentioned is, is the argument, and it’s one we face here too, with are much more mild issue of, uh, you know, if you go against the law, you ruin your witness with people. And I gotta ask Eugene, is that really true? And like, uh, because it seems to me that what the work you’re doing is bringing some people to Christ, so it’s not like for them to witness is ruined by your nonconformity in that matter.
[00:41:51] Eugene: [00:41:51] Know, I think that this is really, really good. Uh, I’ve had, I’ve had Christian friends, I have refrained from engaging, um, just because I don’t know them well enough, uh, to, to, you know, say something that they may find, uh, argumentative, but they put up posts of pastors who defied the law. Had. Church service in their church.
[00:42:18] And then there’s one pastor that I’m thinking of specifically that actually died of the coronavirus and how he defied the law. And he had church service in his church. And, uh, and there were many Christians who kind of used him as a banner of, look, he was stupid. He didn’t abide by the law. And he thought God was going to save him, but God doesn’t bless stupidity kind of thing.
[00:42:42] And, um, and so yeah, I hear is I fall in line with what you just said. Um, and I do so because when I see people come to Christ, I am reminded of John chapter 14 verse 15, where Jesus said very clearly, if you love me. You’ll keep my commandments. When, when God, when, when Jesus spoke to Peter and said, Peter, do you love me?
[00:43:12] Of course I love you. Then feed my sheep. Do you love me? Of course I love you. Then feed my sheep. This is the opposite of what we see with other religions where you have to earn credits, that you have salvation because you have done something worthy of it. Well here we see something different that you do the commandments of your father, not because you’re trying to earn his love, but because you love him.
[00:43:43] And so I would say that if you don’t have an overwhelming desire in your heart to carry out the commandments of God, which I believe his final words on earth, the final words to leave his lips. Where to go and tell the entire world of this amazing message that I’ve given to you. This is a command like none other, like it’s, it’s the this if I’m going to die and I’m going to leave you with the final thoughts before I leave this earth, after I’ve said all of my love you, I love you, is after I’ve said all of my niceties, I’m going to say something that I want to reserve those last few words for something that I don’t want you to ever forget.
[00:44:25] And these are the last recorded words that came through the lips of Christ. Go and preach this good news to all the nations. And what we see, I believe is that almost a reverse, that you don’t do God’s commandments to earn his love or your salvation. But if you are not doing God’s commandments, you have to ask yourself, do I in fact truly love the Lord?
[00:44:55] Jamie: [00:44:55] And I think that’s a really important for the conversation here in Canada as the church struggles over this and prepares for the future is a, there’s a vast difference between fighting for your freedoms, which on some level, you know, there may be a moral responsibility to do, but vastly different is, um.
[00:45:13]You know, being in subjection to God and his commands. And so, you know, if, if it, if I feel as a pastor, I should have the freedom to do whatever it is, you know, that is not the same as God commands me to do this, and therefore I have to disobey, um. And so, you know, those can be hard to untangle, especially because you’ve got a single heart in the middle of that, but selfish and proud.
[00:45:37]Um, but you know, to disobey simply to practice your freedoms for me is, uh, you’re really treading on dangerous ground there. But this’ll be because God has commanded. And I feel like what Peter says to me, you know, responsible for the souls that are entrusted to me. Um, okay. Well, if it’s, if it is a command of God, then it, and I must do that no matter what the cost and God will be with me.
[00:46:00] However, determining what is the command of God. And as I say, especially for evangelicals who have. And very flexible in their forms of worship and so forth. Um, you know, it’s not always easy to say what is the command of God in this situation? I see in, in, in many of the things that you’re involved in, Eugene, I feel very strongly, you are following the command of God.
[00:46:22] We must deliver the gospel to these people, even if it’s against the law. I’m not necessarily in the same situation as not as black and white, and so I have to be more cautious in that regard. But. You know? So I have a question for you. I don’t know if you had any, any where else you wanted to take the conversation, but one of my questions for you is, uh, so let’s imagine that scenario again of total lockdown for the church and he can’t be with believers all across the world.
[00:46:50] Persecuted Christians feel the necessity to gather in person whenever they’re able to, to worship our guard. They feel they must to fulfill a command of worship of God, the way he’s commanded us, and, and to Edify themselves so that they’re strong spiritually. And they do that at tremendous personal risk at times.
[00:47:08] Like that thing. That meeting could be the one that gets them in prison or gets them killed. And so what kind of insight do you have as to the gathering of the body and its importance that could help me weigh
[00:47:20] Eugene: [00:47:20] things? There is a, um, there is, uh, so in earlier days, so when this virus kind of first broke out in January, um, I saw the writing on the wall.
[00:47:31] I knew that if I stayed in China, I might be trapped in China and I needed to be able to travel and I needed to make sure my family was in a safe area. So in January. Uh, before, you know, things started changing, I saw that there was a need. So what I did is I sent my wife and my son to Northern Sweden.
[00:47:49] This is, it’s, we’re, we’re all, uh, we have a home here where we’re citizens here. Um, so I sent them here shortly after that, um, I went to the United States traveling with our Chinese friends, and this, uh, this, the, you know, the travel restrictions by president Trump in the United States came out. So I had to sin.
[00:48:07] Our Chinese friends back for fear that they may get stuck in the U S while we were on in our meetings. From there, um, I traveled to Europe to be with my family and then was, uh, on my way back to Asia when things were just not practical for traveling there because of the, uh, the need to be on lockdown for two weeks in quarantine if you went back to Hong Kong.
[00:48:28] So, uh, we had some meetings that we had lined up for, um, for the U S with brother union. And instead of going to the U S what we did was we did these videos online, uh, with brother UN and we call them. They were the series of do not fear. And while I was there, there’s kind of this old, this really well known, almost like a father figure for Pentecostalism in Germany.
[00:48:54]Um, and, uh, he’s, he’s this really well known guy and he invited us over myself, brother Ewan and uncle Tom over for some, uh, coffee. So we went over to his house, we sat down with him and, um, and that was the first time that I ever thought that this would, you know, really come to the, to the West. I didn’t really see the West going on a lockdown like China, China, anything happens cause it’s a communist country.
[00:49:19] But when I started seeing the West was going to lockdown. I was, I just thought naturally, of course, well, you know, churches might want to be cautious because this is a deadly virus. And, uh, and the, this pastor said, yeah, but you know, in Germany they’re going to start requiring churches shut down. And I was like, yeah, but it’s, you know, because in my mind I was still, I wasn’t even thinking along those lines yet.
[00:49:44] And I said, yeah, but you know, that’s for, that’s for the people safety. And he looked at me and he goes, isn’t that what the government has been telling China for so many years? You and I have been supporting the Chinese all this time as the Chinese have put their lives on the line because they disobeyed a government order that the government said made.
[00:50:04] It’s safer for all of society. The government believes that the practices in the Bible are dangerous for children. The government believes that the practices in the Bible are dangerous for society and that they can make it better and safer for everybody by putting on regulations and only those churches that follow regulations get registered, and it’s only a legal to it because you can.
[00:50:32] You can in China attend a legal church and not have to worry about raids and all of those things. So, but he said this, he said, now our government here in Germany is telling us to shut the doors of the church for our safety and us who have been together with the Chinese and encouraging the Chinese and supporting the Chinese in their self almost sometimes.
[00:50:57] Look, it looks like self destructive efforts to defy the government. Now it’s our turn in a much more mild setting and we fold so quickly. And when he said that, I was immediately reminded of the North Korean book that I wrote about the underground house church years ago, how the missionaries told the North Koreans that they could not.
[00:51:20] Bow to their old gods. They had to give up everything from there because in the Korean culture at that time, in that area, they, there were animists and they believe that their ancestors lived on and would guide them in their spirits. So every year, you know, on certain special holidays, they would go to the graves of their ancestors and prayed to them and have them common.
[00:51:46] And so the Christians came and said, you can’t do that. Or you’re not a believer, but then the Japanese invaded Korea while the missionaries were still there, and the Japanese put a sign of the emperor in front of the churches and made all of the Christians before they went into that church to take a knee and bow before the emperor, before they went into the church.
[00:52:10] And many of them did. And the Koreans were completely dismayed when they looked at them. They were like, wait a minute, aren’t you the very one? And they’re like, yeah, but if, if we don’t, we’ll be kicked out and they’re like kicked out. We would be disowned. We would be beaten, we’d be killed. All of our belongings would be, we took every sacrifice to cover, to walk your idea of what the Bible teaches, and now you are faced with a moderate.
[00:52:41] Portion of what we were given and you, you about to that. And so I, I have to say that walking together with the Chinese, I have seen them, um, in situations that are extreme. And my question, and I’ve just been my, over the last 20 years, I’ve been absolutely blown away, blown away, and humbled, so, so humbled at their bravery and their, their humbleness as they go through it.
[00:53:13] They don’t brag about how brave they are. They just do it and they do so humbly. Um, I look at, you know, what requirements we might have in the West. And my one question would be for the Western church, is this. Do we make our policies based on fear or faith? If we take wise decisions and decide to close the door because of something that we believe is a part of our faith, then okay, but if you’ve made a decision that dictates your faith because of fear, then that is the exact opposite message of not only what I’ve seen in China, but what I’ve seen from.
[00:53:51] The church in the, and the, in the new Testament, in the book of acts and not just from the book of acts. Just really quick, um, today I just posted a study. Of something that I saw that was phenomenal to me. This really was true. When I began to trace the history of revival and follow in the first century church footsteps, I was walking in the book of acts and following the footsteps of Paul and me and my camera man, we were driving.
[00:54:17] It was late at night. Uh, our, our GPS was no longer picking up any signal. We were in the Western part of Turkey. We were completely lost. We had no reservations, no appointments, no nothing. It was stormy out. Rain was coming down really hard. We couldn’t see. We ended up in this little small town called ASOS, which is this little village right on the water, and when we woke up the next morning, we had this beautiful view of an Island called Lesbos.
[00:54:45] And Lesbos is where we get the word lesbian. And when I started walking around that neighborhood of assholes, I realized this is where Paul was. I really believe that the Holy spirit led us there. I really do. Because as we started to study, I realized that because I don’t know why, I mean I’m just a slow learner, I guess, but I kind of thought that, I know that homosexuality has always existed, but I didn’t think it was really being socially acceptable like it is today.
[00:55:12] You know, ever before in history, I felt like, you know, we’re more progressive than has ever been. But as I started to study, what I found was the early Christians faced cultures, society, and societies that didn’t just practice homosexuality, but they believed in it. And in a way that was deified. It was their religion.
[00:55:33] And for you to offend it meant death. And, uh, when I think about, you know, us preaching about what the Bible says today about homosexuality are repercussions that we face today are so mild compared to what the first century church faced when they preach their message of Christ in the Roman Greek world.
[00:55:56] And I think that the same comparison can be seen with the mild. Concessions that we may or may not be making. I’m not, I’m not saying that we are, I’m just saying that we may, we might be making it. Some people argue that we are compared to what we’ve seen extreme persecution coming against our Chinese brothers and sisters and nations where, uh, obvious things are against the law.
[00:56:19] And by breaking that law, the consequences are
[00:56:24] Jamie: [00:56:24] death. Yeah. I think the two become comparable when we understand, if in fact that’s the case, that, um, the difference is not categorical. It’s a degree. And, uh, and so we can become wiser, uh, by comparing things not as apples and oranges, but as various apples.
[00:56:43] And, you know, in this whole thing, what you shared, I think is important because what I’m encouraging for my people. And I encourage them on, on all matters. Like we gotta be sharp, we gotta be vigilant, and we don’t have to be paranoid. We don’t have to be conspiracy theorist by any means. But you know, I believe God doesn’t just want to give us answers.
[00:57:02] And that’s why often I find now he could have written in that new Testament like he did Exodus, chapter 20 just a list of rules he did not. Give us that he made interpretation, a challenge, and the way he spoke to us a challenge because he wants to produce judges. I mean, Paul says that we’re going to judge angels, and first Corinthians six he’s trying to produce mature judges who can discern truth.
[00:57:25] And so we need to exercise that muscle as believers. And so often we just need to understand that, that the way we’re interpreting things right now, if we had, you know. Um, access to a bit more perspective. We’d see that’s not the only way to see things, and maybe we’d be more equipped to judge for ourselves.
[00:57:43]Um, and so I’m constantly trying to encourage that. But one thing you said out of there, you know, one of the things that concerns me about a lack of ability to talk all across the West, whether it’s politically or, or even sometimes theologically, but, uh, are you familiar with Western new begin. So he was a British missionary to India for, I think it was 35 years, and he came back to Britain in the 1960s and when he came back, he saw that it was not the Britain he had left.
[00:58:16] It was radically different. And he realized, I’ve come back and now my home is the mission field. This is a post-Christian world. And, and now this is a pagan society essentially, but it’s worse than the pagan society I was in because now the gospel has been here and we’re inoculated to it and they’re harder to reach.
[00:58:34] And so he wrote a little book, I think it’s only about 120 pages called foolishness to the Greeks. And one of the things he talked about was, um, that the church has lost its ability to talk, uh, God wise. To the people around it because what’s happened ever since the enlightenment in Britain is that our public discourse is totally controlled by a scientific language and science has abandoned.
[00:59:04] The idea of a creator. And so instead of speaking about purpose in the world, the Greek philosophers always try to understand things through their purpose. What are they aiming at? What are they supposed to achieve? We’ve gone the opposite direction. We only talk about causes, and it’s not fair to speak to someone about purposes.
[00:59:20] You don’t say the purpose of the sun is, or the purpose of a hydrogen atom. Is, and yet as a Christian, we should be speaking that way. The purpose of this thing that I encounter in the world is instead of just explaining its causes, and I see that in our public dialogue right now, that, that Christians are willing just to talk about, um.
[00:59:40]Facts and figures. But where is that anointing of God to speak to the Holy spirit and the reality of it? Divine living, resurrected Christ at work in our world and the purpose that’s present in our world. And so that concerns me when, when believers are. Too comfortable just with the language of the world around them.
[01:00:03] And so things become really simple. There aren’t very many things in my life that are very simple. I’m constantly weighing various, uh, information. And, and this period of time is not unique to that. Um. But, but I’m not willing to, to narrow down my, my conversation, let alone my personal understanding to mirror facts and figures.
[01:00:27] The question is, okay, in light of that. What do I find out about God and what does God say about this situation?
[01:00:35] Eugene: [01:00:35] I am, I’m, I’m, I actually have never heard of foolishness to the Greeks before. That is something that I’m just now looking it up for the PDF. I have to look that up. What you just said was, was phenomenal.
[01:00:47] Right on point. I love that kind of, um, balanced look at talking about purpose and the, the way that, uh, the Greek system or even our system. Evaluates data and information and whether we believe it’s, you know, fake news or not. Um, one, one, uh, one question that you did ask that I think I abandoned somewhere along the line.
[01:01:08] I forgot about it. Um, but I do want to address it because I think that it’s important is you were talking about, you know, does it, has it. Is it hurting the witness of the Chinese Christians when they are breaking the law? And I have to say that throughout history, I have seen those that stand for the truth of God’s word might be, uh, embarrassing in the moment.
[01:01:39] But the legacy. Lasts forever. And I’m like, so whenever I see, I know our Chinese friends that are caught smuggling Bibles, um, whenever I see them arrested or thrown in prison, I see the church multiply. Are there voices that disagree that say that, you know, right now in China, we have a very special situation where there’s one church that I work with.
[01:02:06] It’s one of my best friends. His name is pastor Joshua, and he, he has a sizable church. He and his wife are very, very close to me and we’ve traveled the world together. We’ve traveled, you know, North America together and Europe and Africa and the middle East. Uh, Southeast Asia. We just spend a lot of time and in most of my budget is actually worked around, you know, the church planting efforts that he’s doing in different countries.
[01:02:32] And, um, I, I really, um, love what he shared with me about the early days of Christianity as he saw them in the 1980s. And so he tells me a story about how the three self church leadership was founded in his area. And this is how it was founded. Church leaders were lined up on a wall. With a gun to their head.
[01:03:00] And they were told, except, uh, ex denied Jesus, except the communist party is the only ruler of China. Um, and the idea of atheism and say that there’s no God and we will let you live. And if you don’t, we’ll kill you. Right?
[01:03:23] Jamie: [01:03:23] And the three, the three self church is the one that, um, that, that is the legal body just in case any of my lists are, uh, don’t know that.
[01:03:31] And I want to ask, there’s about a hundred thousand up to a hundred thousand conversions in China every month. Right now. How many of those are from the three self
[01:03:39] Eugene: [01:03:39] church? Very few. So the three self church, and I want to be very careful that you had the three self church is the government church. The three self church has three things that you’re not allowed to teach.
[01:03:50] And this is why the Chinese church will not, uh, the underground church. The individuals that I work with, they will not, uh, conform. They won’t, they will not go in. And we’ve had, there is, there are heroes of the faith that planted the church or they were a main part of planting the churches that I now serve today.
[01:04:09] And those individuals are still alive today, but not working with those churches any longer. Because those churches, even though they love those Western missionaries, those Western missionaries tried to get them to join the three self. And it was something that they could not do. And the reason why is because those that denied the faith and kept their life in an area of and province.
[01:04:32] They were the ones that were appointed to leadership for the official church in China. And so that, for those believers that suffered through that time, they feel that, um, that was something that they just could not do. They could not deny Christ even for a moment in order to gain leadership for a lifetime.
[01:04:54] And maybe, you know, those pastors can do amazing things. And I work with. Official three self churches today. Um, but because they’re, they’re not all uniform, but there’s, there’s three things that you can’t teach in the official church. And it’s why a lot of people that I work together with will not register.
[01:05:12] And when you don’t register, you’re not allowed to meet. And when you meet, when you’re not allowed to meet, that’s what’s called the house church or the underground church. So it’s not like they actually dig tunnels and go underground, but they just don’t abide by the law, which is you can only meet in registered churches.
[01:05:25] The registered churches cannot teach about the Virgin birth. They cannot teach about the resurrection, and they cannot teach about life after death in heaven. So those three things, the Christians, the underground house church, believes that you take away these three tenets of faith. You have nothing left.
[01:05:46] We cannot accept. Those rules of the church. And also the person in charge of the three self church in China is a member of the communist party. And to be a member of the communist party, you have to take a sworn oath of atheism. That means that the person in charge of the church in China is a registered party member, atheist.
[01:06:05] And even though they speak the language, um, you have to be very careful and know what language they’re speaking. So when they say that we know that Christ is alive today, they’re not actually meaning that Christ is alive. They are saying in the way that, um, you know, if your father dies, you say, even though his dead, he will live on in my spirit, because I will continue on the work that he started on the, you know, this art that, that kind of ideal is.
[01:06:28] So they’ll use the same terminology sometimes in some three self churches or official churches. But the other thing that I’ve seen is that through not just in China, where people that have sacrificed themselves end up becoming. A huge witness. Yeah. There will be those that will say Christians, fellow Christians that will say, what you’re doing is wrong.
[01:06:52] You are abandoning the word of God because the word of God plainly says a, B, and C there those things will happen. I just wrote about this in a book that I put out, uh, that we’re about ready to put out called back to Jerusalem. I talk about the early days of back to Jerusalem, how we were heavily attacked.
[01:07:09] Not by the world, but by fellow Christians who interpreted Christian literature completely different. And I would say that those Christians that are, uh, that put their life on the line for the gospel become a witness even in their death. And, and, and I would even go as far as saying is that their witnesses amplified.
[01:07:31] By their death. Um, I, whenever I think of, uh, the, the flag of, um. England, the, the, the white flag with the red cross. That’s the, that’s the flag of st George. Uh, when you ever, I go to Georgia, they have the same flag, just have more crosses and that’s the, that country is named after Saint George here in Sweden.
[01:07:51] One of the biggest saints is st George. You go down to , which is the old town, right in the middle. You have this. Stash. Huge statue of st George. St George was a soldier to protect the emperor of Rome. And he was one of the best soldiers, and he was a Christian soldier from Palestine. And when the emperor wanted to purge all of the Christians in his personal bodyguard, he had this Saint George.
[01:08:21] So he goes to st George’s says, Hey, listen, just, you know, really quick, pay your respects to the guy. You don’t even have to believe it. Just pay your respects to the Roman gods, just to prove you’re not a Christian. You know, just secretly, we all know you are, but just do your thing. And I’ll give you property and rank.
[01:08:37] And because st George, according to the story, he was the favorite one. And it ended up being that he said, you know, I can’t, I can’t do it. And it made the emperor so enraged that he wanted to make an example out of st George. And so had him, uh, given poison in public by a witch that he didn’t die. The, which got saved, the wife of the, uh, the emperor was there.
[01:09:03]Um, and this is according to the stories, of course, the Catholic church still teaches this and, and brings these stories out. But, uh, then he was attached to a wheel of torture where as the wheel was turned, his skin was flayed off of his body until he would bleed to death. He didn’t die. The wife, by witnessing this.
[01:09:22] Became a believer right there. And then, and then finally they beheaded him and the story of his life went around the middle East and Europe and people just hearing the story ended up getting saved from the witness. I continue to see that over and over and over that, you know, none of the disciples. Had a very good witness for the Jews, if you were to look at their immediate response to what the disciples were doing.
[01:09:49]Um, and in all of them, all of them except for one, died an unnatural death. All of them breaking the law, uh, whether it was st Thomas in India, whether it was Peter and Paul and Rome, uh, whether it was Matthew in Africa, uh, or whether it was John who didn’t get killed prematurely, but he got to, you know, a nice little.
[01:10:08] Paid for vacation on the Iowa Patmos. Uh, the, the, the Christian history is riddled with believers who would not bow to the ruler or the laws that went against God’s teaching and their death. Actually, w which was supposed to bring about humiliation and warning ended up being a light to bring people in the cross.
[01:10:34] Is one, I mean, that’s the prime example that is supposed to be a fearful icon that is supposed to make us all scared of following Christ because of what he went through. Um, and instead today, it is our, uh, a sign of motivation in salvation and love and grace. And it means the exact opposite of everything the Romans wanted.
[01:10:57] Jamie: [01:10:57] Well, uh, I imagine it’s important to note that the spirit in which those people went to their, uh, to their persecution or their desks though, isn’t, isn’t on. And this is why there’s so much danger in our context of conflating the topic of my rights versus my musts. Right? These, these people who went to the costs, uh, you know, Peter went upside down to the cross.
[01:11:20] They didn’t go because they pick the fight. They didn’t need to pick, they didn’t go because they were proud or arrogant, or they were fighting for the name of their personal freedom, which again, there might be room for that in public. Conversation, but let’s not confuse the two. They knew they had to do what they were called to do, and they were willing to do that, upgrade up to the grave, um, just as a subscriber of God, uh, obeying even to the point of death, even death on a cross.
[01:11:47]Uh, but it was a must. It’s what God required of them. And, and I’m, I’m concerned about both aspects in my community. Um, not just. The church I work in, but our general area of churches, we can be quick to react out of the flesh to something like this and confused God given rights with a God appointed task.
[01:12:08] We can also be really slow and sluggish and you know, relatively comfortable. And just used to following without questioning. Um, any rule that’s put before us and I, I challenged my own church. You know, I’m, I’m not afraid to push back. I’m not afraid of you thinking things through and bringing it to me. I want you to come in a humble spirit.
[01:12:31] I want you to be generous. I don’t want you to follow me just cause I’m a pastor. In fact, sometimes that creates, uh, the biggest challenges in a church is that you can’t get a second opinion. It’s just your opinion and let me tell you, you don’t want just my opinion, making decisions for people. I’m in need of wise counsel just as the scriptures say.
[01:12:50] And so, so that’s something that, that I, I really want, um, all the weavers to hear from this as well as, you know, whole base thinkingly and understanding that controversy is not your enemy. If it’s what you’re called to. Sometimes that’s a very way that God must move in order to make a move his spirit among the people.
[01:13:09] Eugene: [01:13:09] And that’s why I think conversations like this are so important. You know, to have someone like you, pastor Jamie on here to discuss this, I think that it makes me better. It makes you better. It makes our listeners better and really understanding, you know, where do they stand on God’s word and digging deeper and, and learning from one another’s counsel.
[01:13:32] And, um, you know, because this really is so important for me. You know. Being born and raised in the U S United States. Um, having a military background, uh, idolizing the founding fathers of the United States. Um, I idolize, you know, here in Sweden, there’s this, you know, this idea, like, why would you want to have a gun.
[01:13:53] And so that’s always kind of asked of me, you know, as an American, I’m like, why would I want to have a gun? Keep people off my land, you know, you come, you want to pick a fight, you know, I’ll, I’ll shoot you kind of thing. And, uh, and so the idea also comes from the I, the, the, the distrust of government. I don’t trust the government.
[01:14:11] And if they overstep their bounds, they’re going to have resistance against me, or they’re going to have resistance from me against them. And, uh, I don’t, I have been completely transformed. By the Chinese because there are times where I’m seeing them persecuted. I’m like, demand your rights. Hire a lawyer, go to the streets and protest light some torches, take some pitchforks and go to the Capitol and Beijing and demand your rights.
[01:14:40] Demand your respect. They have to, um, uh, understand that you’re not a person to be trifled with. You know, uh, that’s kind of where I came from. And then they showed me that it’s not about my rights. I laid down my rights at the cross. I, I, I, I’m not disobeying the law because. I’m prideful. I’m not disobeying the law because I’m trying to start a rebellious movement.
[01:15:06] I’m not disobeying the law because I’m trying to overthrow the power of the government. I am not trying to bring democracy to China. I’m not trying to bring in new leaderships and support a coup. I lay down those rights. I believe in one government. That’s the kingdom. And there. I love my brothers and sisters who serve in the government.
[01:15:28] I love my brothers and sisters who arrest me and beat me. I love my brothers and sisters who guard the jail and which I am confined. I love my brothers and sisters who made the judgment on me in the courtroom and those who wrote the law that put me in the courtroom. But I cannot abide by these laws that take me away from my savior.
[01:15:52] And I, I, I guess I want to circle back around to, you know, the first example that you said that your wife had reminded you of with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Because when I look at them, they were not just individuals who were being persecuted, they were high level officials in the very government.
[01:16:15] That made the law. They were people that were a part of writing the law that everybody had to abide by. So I mean, they, they actually didn’t abide by a law. That was implemented by a government that they were employed by. Of course, they were slaves in Babylon, but they were, the Babylonians needed the intelligence of the Jewish people, and they needed these three people to serve on the council of the government.
[01:16:40] And, um, and so, yeah, I just come back to that. It’s not like what you just said. I it, this, this disobedience is not rooted. In a desire to overthrow or create a, create a rebellion or to instigate a fight or to demand my rights or to demand that I, I can’t demand anything, but I can decide to that for me and my house.
[01:17:07] We will follow the Lord.
[01:17:09] Jamie: [01:17:09] That’s right. And you know, I like, I do think there’s room, you know, both Canada in the United States have similar histories. We have lots of parallels and lots of differences, but we have some beautiful achievements because of civil disobedience, um, for the sake of rights and so forth, trying to create a better country.
[01:17:28] So there is room for that conversation. But I just, you can’t mix the two, uh, because then I think you really do put your. Even before you put your witness at risk, I think you lose sight of what you’re really there about, and the primary thing is peaceful people’s exposure to the gospel and the chance to receive a saving faith through Jesus Christ.
[01:17:49] I had one other question for you. I think that’s the only one that left on my list, but you know, obviously in some ways you’ve already spoken to this, but you know, whether you’re in China. And, and it’s irrefutable, whether you’re in a, you know, Virginia, and it, it is refutable when you feel that you were being mistreated, when you feel that your, your God given right is being violated, how
[01:18:16] Eugene: [01:18:16] do you.
[01:18:18] Jamie: [01:18:18] What, what were the Chinese state us about? How we keep our focus on the Lord and don’t allow our problems to become, um, you know, overwhelming in our awareness, but have the blessing of the Lord even through such difficult trials.
[01:18:35] Eugene: [01:18:35] Yeah. I love this question because it tears me into. Um, I have two, I have two sides.
[01:18:41] So I think the side that I am growing into more and more because of the influence of the Chinese can almost be referred to, I think in a way that we can understand in Canada, in the mirror, in America as almost like an Anabaptist stance. If you could think of the Anabaptist as being Missy mission-minded um, and then I think that’s kind of where we’re at in China.
[01:19:07] That, I don’t know if you know this or not, I don’t know if it’s clear or not. Um, but we actually try not to be political in our, um, reporting of what’s happening inside of China now, unfortunately, unfortunately, we have to, we, we have to share about the Chinese government in a bad light. That that’s something that we cannot help because it is what it is.
[01:19:33] Brother union cannot talk about his situation where he was arrested, tortured, and thrown into prison without saying how he was arrested, tortured, and thrown into prison. And, uh, that unfortunately does. Shine a bad light on the government. But you know, there are people out there that we love and we support, but we cannot openly partner together with because they have taken very clear, uh, political stances.
[01:20:00] And, um, and it’s, we, trust me when I say this. We are not trying to be politically correct, so we’re not trying to, well, let’s not take a political stance because that’s not politically correct. That’s not the case at all. We want, we pray for the leaders of China on a daily basis and we pray wholeheartedly.
[01:20:19] I’ve sat together with the Chinese. They love president sheep. They support president sheep. So if I put up articles before where I’ve gotten people from our board that has called me and say, please take that down. That’s, that’s a little too political. And so I’ve taken it down. Uh, or, uh, we’ve, we’ve, I’ve said something that the Chinese would say, we don’t agree with that.
[01:20:46] And so I only try to say things that will reflect the best that I can because I’m not Chinese. I’m not Chinese. I will never be Chinese. I don’t try to be Chinese. Um, but I do try to speak on their behalf. And I would not, to be truthful, if I try, if I got political and said, this is how I feel about president sheet, this is how I feel.
[01:21:12] You know, that he needs to be overthrown. He’s an evil man, blah, blah, blah. Um, I try not to do that. Now I go off on American politicians cause that’s who I am. Um, but I don’t say anything about Chinese politicians. And I will say things about atheism as it relates to communism and the communist party. Uh, but that is something that I, that we almost have to do to explain, uh, situational awareness inside of China.
[01:21:40] But we try to stay out of politics. Because in China, they pay, they pray for the leaders and they submit to the leadership and they don’t pray for it to be replaced. They just pray for a changing of the hearts of those leaders. For me, um, I actively get involved. I actively want to be a part of the solution.
[01:22:03] The older I get, the more the Chinese have shown me that I may not be completely right in that stance. And the older I get, the less and less I hang on to those ideas. So, um, I, I’m torn on that, on how to answer that because, um, uh, the, I really feel less of a desire to correct the war. I, this is, this is what I feel.
[01:22:32] When I see, when I see them, when I have followed the history of revival around the world and seen as it’s arrived in China, revival transforms. Government’s not the other way around that if I want to truly change government, this is not for everybody, right? I mean, I’m speaking as a, as a somebody who works on the mission field.
[01:22:55] I’m not a politician. Um, I’m not somebody who’s involved in politics. I wish I were at sometime at a certain point, but, um, I, I, um, I’m speaking as somebody that believes that our main focus on the mission field is to preach the gospel to all of the nations and all of the people groups before the return of Christ to usher in the return of Christ.
[01:23:17] And that is IR regardless. Of the governments, but if we can bring Christ to a society, we can transform the culture. And by transforming the culture. We transformed the politics, and by transforming the politics, we transform everything. Education, human rights, animal rights, everything gets transformed.
[01:23:42] When Christ becomes the center of a society, when we abandoned him, we cannot achieve justice. We, people talk about social justice right now, right? Um, social justice doesn’t need a, an adverb or an ad noun or an adjective. It doesn’t need descriptive language. Justice is justice. You don’t need, you know, religious justice, social justice, you know, computer justice, racial justice.
[01:24:07] You don’t, you don’t need descriptives because justice is all encompassing when it is done with. Biblical guidelines and principles that come from God himself. And when we abandoned God, we abandoned those principles. And it’s impossible for us to find justice in the transformation. We cannot transform governments into righteous bodies by sheer will resistance.
[01:24:36] And I believe that the best thing that we can do as Christians is to be leaders. Stand strong and preach the good news of Jesus Christ and do so all in love. And that’s, that’s what I see the Chinese doing. And that’s what I try to mimic more and more.
[01:24:55] Jamie: [01:24:55] Great. Yeah. I, you know, my, my idea of God’s salvation has changed over the last five years.
[01:25:01] I shouldn’t say it’s changed, it’s grown, and I’m indebted to ’em. To one friend who is an unorthodox believer and the way that he described his understanding of salvation, of our problem of sin is that you know, sin is turning away from God who is the source of life. When you do that, you start to wander into death and death has all kinds of symptoms, although ones that you just named Eugene are symptoms of death, but they are all.
[01:25:26] Find their source in depth. So if you want to bring salvation to people, you don’t address one symptom at a time. You go to the source, you bring them life in place of death. The dying need to find new life in Jesus. And I think that’s why Paul, you know, um, so for example, with his, the way he treated, uh, the issue of slavery in the scriptures, you know, he never comes right down.
[01:25:49] And says, he certainly said, he never says resisted. He never says his full opinion. I don’t believe on the subject, but calls slaves to submit still. But I think that’s because he didn’t want to conflate the issue. He didn’t want
[01:26:01] Eugene: [01:26:01] to. People to hear
[01:26:03] Jamie: [01:26:03] that what Paul preaches is a slave verbal, no. Or Paul preaches as Jesus Christ.
[01:26:08] Once you’ve seized Jesus Christ, then we start to read the letter of file Eamonn, and we see him just aching with the freedom to be given to an SMS as a brother in Christ who’s also a slave. Because that comes out of faith. It doesn’t, it doesn’t come from being addressed directly much of the time. Faith first.
[01:26:27] And we see that in both the founding of our nations, you know, in Canada are our charter rights are based on, um. The premise that God created us. It’s very clear language. And once you move from God created us, all of that becomes, you know, a little tenuous. Do people really have rights anymore and where do they come from?
[01:26:50] And the United States, we’re not very different at all. They’ve talked about a declaration of independence. We hold these truths to be self evident, um, and they’re all in light of God right? Um, and so, yeah, just as I look at it, you’re exactly right. You go in with the gospel, Jesus Christ that preaches a new birth in the Holy spirit, and the result of that are the symptoms of life as opposed to the symptoms of death.
[01:27:17]Um, but just to speak to my question a little bit about, uh, how we don’t get sidetracked by. By the difficult means that God brings us through, like feeling violated. Um, you know, I, right from the beginning, I’ve been just speaking to my church about the fact that, you know, God wants to do something through this, or are we going to get caught up in details or are we going to get alone with God and we’re going to find out.
[01:27:40] What he’s achieving and how I’m supposed to be a part of it, and even if I have to give up, you know, that’s, that’s really freed me in my life from a fear of, of losing anything, whether it’s wealth or status or a job or even family, is that, uh, I know that God accomplishes things with everything that we face.
[01:28:03] And that is so much more precious than the thing that I give up. And so, you know, in some respects I’ve been tested in that. And, and while, you know, being prepared for it still doesn’t make you, uh, a perfect Saint when you face it. I’m so grateful to God that he prepared me in advance for it, and who knows what’s to come in my life yet that he’ll ask me to give up.
[01:28:25] But you know, it achieved something. And you spoke about these. The love of these Chinese Christians for the very one who persecutes them, the very attitude of Steven quoting Jesus, forgive them, forgive them. They don’t know what they do as he’s being stoned to that. And, and I think that love needs to drive us.
[01:28:42] And I also see this in my own life, that the more that the resurrection becomes, my hope. Uh, the more I resonate with Romans eight verse 18 that, um, uh. I consider that our present sufferings aren’t even worth compare to the reward that’s before us, you know, a resurrection. I just think we’re not overjoyed enough about the resurrection in our churches, um, to have the full transformation that comes from that hope.
[01:29:10] Eugene: [01:29:10] Yeah. I, one thing that you said that I really kind of seized on and that, uh, you said that was shared with you from an Orthodox friend. Was that, um, you know, the more we gravitate towards God, the more we have life. And when we abandoned him, we have the opposite of life, death. And then all these other things are.
[01:29:30] I finished, I did a, uh, a little small booklet that I had worked on for several years. Um, that, uh, I call it three trees. There’s three trees. I make an argument that there were three trees in the garden kind of thing. And, um, uh, in that, one of the things that kind of came to me, uh, in that same way is that.
[01:29:50] God is life. That he isn’t. He doesn’t just give us life. He is life. He is the essence of life. And he said that I am the way, the truth, and the life that not only is he saying that I give life, he says, I am. Life. And so if you want life, you gravitate closer to God. And when you get further from God, you get further from everything that he is.
[01:30:15] If, and first John four seven and eight Jesus says, I am love. Um, he that doesn’t love, doesn’t know me because I am love. Uh, the further you get away from God, the less capable you are of love is society. A person a nation becomes, the more they separate from Christ, the less capable they are of truth.
[01:30:41] Because Jesus says I am truth. He is logos. He is, the word is, this is, this is a really odd concept that he is the word, but the, the truth. The word is Christ. Christ is life. He is truth. He is love. And the more we gravitate towards him, the more we benefit from all of the things that he is because it lives in us.
[01:31:08] But the more we reject him in our lives. In our society, the less we have of those items. And I see that all the time, whether it’s in North Korea, China, uh, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia. The more a nation rejects God, the more they embrace the opposite of God. Which is pain, death, injustice, suffering, all of those things, um, that we tried to combat in society by creating a more perfect political sphere.
[01:31:45] Yeah. The older I get, the more I really see that the, the big benefit of making a difference is preaching the word of God. We want to stop war. Preach the word of God. You want to see the environment treated better. Preach the word of God. You want to see people love each other more. Preach the word of God.
[01:32:02] You want to see people give of themselves more so that people have, um, uh, health insurance or they’re able to go to the hospital when they need it or they’re able to have. Um, food on their table when they need it. The most preached the word of God. These things will be added to you if you seek first his face.
[01:32:21] Jamie: [01:32:21] That’s
[01:32:21] Eugene: [01:32:21] right. So brother, it has been an amazing time. I think that this was a great discussion. I’ve learned a lot from it. I’ve absolutely, I will probably be listening to this again. I really, really thank you for joining me and being with us on his back in Jerusalem. A podcast. I know you gave a a big chunk of your time for the today.
[01:32:41] I mean, I was thinking that maybe we’d be on here for like 20 minutes, a half an hour, and we’ve gone for an hour and a half and it went flying by.
[01:32:50] Jamie: [01:32:50] Yeah. Yeah. No, thanks a lot for having me. And once again, really grateful for the work that you do, Eugene, and, and really grateful that you get this time with your family, even if it is in a place with 10 months over the year, snow on the ground.
[01:33:03] Eugene: [01:33:03] I love it. Don’t let it fool you, brother. I love it. I love the cold weather. I love the snow. Um, I was called to China, but I love being in an isolated areas. I don’t know why, but I love being in places where, yeah. So we, we love being in cold weather, so we’re not missing the summertime at all. So, alright, God bless you.
[01:33:28] God bless your family. Pastor Jamie and I pray that we will see you sometime either here or there in the air. Sure. God bless you brother, and I want to thank you. Wow. That was so good. That was so good. So touching, really loved the wisdom and the perspective and the balance and the honesty that pasture Jamie brought to the conversation, and I want to thank you for downloading this back into some podcasts.
[01:33:54] If you made it all the way to the end, congratulations. You deserve a. Cookie, some sort of award. Um, I’m about ready to lose my voice, I think, and it’s a little sad. I’m about ready to go into another podcast that I’m going to be doing. I’ll probably post a little bit after this one. I’m super excited about it.
[01:34:09]Um, it is a, before I end this podcast, let me, let me tell you what the next podcast is going to be about. Um, I almost never do that, but I’m going to do it this time cause it makes it more official, right? I didn’t plan on doing that at the beginning, which is kind of how we roll around here. But I also want to tell you that.
[01:34:23] We are, keep us in your prayer. I don’t know if it will happen by the time you hear this podcast or not, but we are hoping to be on a live broadcast, uh, doing our own live broadcast on the internet so that whenever I do these, uh, back to Jerusalem podcast recordings, you can call in with questions and we can discuss things on air, uh, that will later become a podcast.
[01:34:45] We’ve been doing Saturday morning podcast every Saturday morning now that this lockdown has been in place. And I’ve been taking calls from around the world, from people that are, you know, just have general questions. We love to hear from you. We love to hear from our supporters and we love to hear from our enemies as well.
[01:34:59] So if you have listened to the podcast or you don’t like us or you disagree with something that we’re saying, or you just want to tell me off, well now’s your chance. We got a phone number, you can call me up. You can give me a piece of your mind if you can afford it. And uh, right after this podcast, we are also going to have a, another.
[01:35:16] Podcast, um, that will be posted in a day or two with a good friend of mine, Caleb, I don’t know if you remember him or not, but Caleb had served together with us in Iraq and when he came back, he went through a huge reverse culture shock of going from serving on the mission field as a missionary and Iraq to coming back to American.
[01:35:37] Commercial Christian society, and he gave us the role, real deal of how he felt. If you haven’t heard that podcast, go back and search for it. Um, it’s a, an amazing, raw, real open conversation and we’re going to be doing a followup with him to find out how’s he doing now? I didn’t wait for him to get better.
[01:36:00]Um, when I did the first podcast, I didn’t want him to get him when he was Raul, disappointed, hurting, and then, uh, make fun of him. I kind of wanted, you know, to say, Hey, Caleb, ha ha, ha. And point at him and laugh at him, you know, as he’s going through pain and withering on the ground in the fetal position.
[01:36:14] And, uh, you know, giving the Christian Love that only Eugene Bach can give, which is point laugh when you’re at your worst. And then. Make profit of it by advertising it to everybody and sharing it on a open forum. Have a backup, drew some podcast. Just kidding. We love you, Kayla. And my hope is, is that we can come back to you brother and hear how you’re doing since the last podcast we did with you.
[01:36:35] So that should be our next podcast. I want to thank you so much for making it to the end of this podcast, and I’m. Thank you for your prayers and your support. Again, I’m Eugene Bach, your host at this time, I’m coming to you live on delay from somewhere within the borders of Sweden.
God bless you.