May 2022 RCMI Newsletter
The Modern Worshiper's Life Challenge
In the pandemic's most seriously affected districts,
worshipers cannot even set foot outside their houses.
This is a great challenge, but they are still getting equipped,
still going forward by the power of the Spirit.
Dear friends of RCMI, Peace to you all!
Despite the fact that government initiatives aimed at controlling the pandemic in China's "pandemic high-danger areas” have brought great pressure on the economy, and on people's daily lives, the zero-case covid policy has nevertheless been determined to continue. At the same time, RCMI is also determined to keep serving the Chinese church and working to extend God's kingdom. RCMI coworker Pastor Matthew Leung has for decades been pastoring, focusing on teaching praise and worship courses, and his disciples are scattered throughout China's provinces. Among them are Shanghai pastors who during this dire pandemic situation have stood out as wonderful examples in their witness for the Lord. Worship is their lifestyle, and their lifestyle of worship is "worship in action,” glorifying the Lord and blessing people. Below is a testimony of how RCMI's partner churches in Shanghai are joining to 'go all out' for the Lord:
Pastor Chung of Shanghai shares (May 2022):
Since 2020, wave after wave of the pandemic has given the worldwide church huge challenges; and in mainland China, where the pandemic clampdown has been especially severe, the church has had to face even greater challenges -- challenges that appear to be disasters. Many local churches have simply closed down. Some stopped renting their facilities, divided into small groups, and went back to meeting in homes. Some opted for online meetings, and some have fallen into a state of chaos and even division due to a lack of IT skills and no assistance.
In January of this year, we were facing the great challenge of getting worshipers from all the churches in Shanghai together (online), But just two months later, and even greater challenge suddenly appeared -- the pandemic broke out in Shanghai, worse than the original 2020 breakout, and we've been under lockdown in our homes for more than two months now.
At this writing, Shanghai people are not allowed to set foot outside their houses. And it's not only the church that is suffering. Every facet of community life in the whole city is going through great crisis and challenge, and worshipers are facing severe trials.
A Most Beautiful Testimony in the Midst of the Pandemic.
Three Great Tests for Worshipers During the 'Pandemic Era'
1. A Test of the Foundation of Our Worship
Many worshipers worship only at the church, or when there's worship team ministry going on, and musical accompaniment -- but now these three things have been taken away, so they have stopped worshiping. And now, although there are online worship and online meetings, the quality of the music and the worship atmosphere are very hard to maintain. Those whose worship is based on these outward things may have stopped worshiping already!
This is a very big exam -- one that tests whether our worship is actually "in spirit and truth." In this environment, as foundations are being shaken, do we still put God first, consider Him our greatest joy, and make Him the focus of our lifestyle? We need to consider this question carefully!
2. A Test of Our Faith
As worshipers, we have to believe with all our hearts that God is good, loving, and eternally powerful, no matter what circumstance we are in because only when we worshipers have this kind of faith will we be able to lead people into God's presence to worship. If we ourselves fall into negativity, angry feelings etc, it's very easy for the little signals we send to negatively affect the whole congregation's relationships with God.
The pandemic has now truly exposed and made very obvious the state of the faith of many of us worshipers! We now have no chance outwardly to appear devoted in worship on the stage in church, and inwardly we are indignant because we don't have enough to eat or drink for today!
3. A Test of Our Commitment to the Great Commission
Before the pandemic started, some worshipers would busy themselves mainly with on-stage ministry and worship team practice and spent very little time with the congregation off-stage interacting with brothers and sisters -- or even spent very little time doing evangelism.
Worship Ministry is certainly a part of our calling to fulfill the Great Commission -- and in fact the purpose of preaching the gospel is to draw people into become worshipers of God and to lead them in their worship. But when a challenge comes, and it becomes impossible for us actually to "lead worship," then what can we do to continue fulfilling the Great Commission? Many people are probably waiting for church and ministry to go back to what it was in the past, but actually we don't know what things are going to be like in the future. However, we do know that as we travel this "Great Commission Way" we cannot delay; we must continue forward.
In any and every circumstance we need to use all kinds of wisdom in serving the Lord, and we mustn't limit ourselves. We can learn to use the printed page, recorded media, and new ways to communicate with people and bring them into God's presence. And we can love our neighbors who are nearby -- even though the pandemic has not gone down to "zero cases,” we can still love them.
Pastor Matthew Leung and the School of Praise and Worship
Pastor Matthew Leung Leading Worship
The skies above a worshiper's path aren't always blue! Rather, our lives are always full of new challenges which require exercising faith and the Holy Spirit's help to keep persevering until the end. Then we can experience the 'God Who Does New Things'!
Jesus taught Christian worshipers to worship the eternal God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). This means not only participating in sacraments conducted in a church building, but more importantly, listening to the Lord in our daily lives, putting the truth into practice. For Christians, worship is lifestyle, and lifestyle is worship! Worshipers living under a global pandemic must not stop; rather we must put our faith into practice and demonstrate that true worship means glorifying God and benefiting our fellow man.
Worshipers Gathering Together
Worship Is Life; Life Is Worship
Worship Is Life; Life Is Worship
Finally, I would like to encourage all of you worshipers, no matter what situation you may find yourself in, never stop worshiping! Let's return to our worship in spirit and truth -- no matter how much shaking is going on in our situations -- let us persevere with faith toward God, the hope we have in His Kingdom, and in our love for Him!
Let's go on and finish the Great Commission! Blessings to you, everyone!
Pastor Cheng, Shanghai, and Pastor Matthew Leung of RCMI.