Since we have recently celebrated our 4th Facebook Anniversary, on 9th October 2019, we have been inundated with messages of support as well as questions about the background to NACIC and how we have managed to keep our faith alive in this communist country of China.
As everybody is aware, it is not so easy for Christians, who are living in China, to practice their faith normally because religion is regulated by the Chinese government. The simple act of attending a divine service is complicated and contact with church activities, outside of China, is difficult to maintain. China even forbids the streaming of religious activities, like preaching, praying and divine services into China, without the possession of a valid licence.
We, as members of the New Apostolic Church living in China, decided to utilize social media as a means of staying united with our fellow New Apostolic brothers and sisters around the globe. Despite the risks associated with it, we decided to create a Facebook Page, Twitter Account, Instagram account and Website and were very excited to see it taking off and, on 9 October 2015, we launched our Facebook Page and other social media accounts.
Shortly thereafter, during January 2016, we were informed by our local Priest that our District Apostle has instructed that we remove our publications from the internet and that we are committing illegal acts and could face action from the church against us. Our Priest further informed us that the District Apostle has indicated that we are not allowed to use the church emblem or the name of the church in our internet publications.
You can well imagine what went through our minds. We did not take this threat (of legal or other action) from our District Apostle and from within the New Apostolic Church, lightly. What surprised us most, was the fact that we did not receive any threats from the Chinese government.
These threats, from the District Apostle, seem to imply that we were expected to remain isolated from the rest of the New Apostolic world. We were therefore quite confused with his approach.
We discussed the situation among our group and decided to approach our local Priest to ask for clarification on this matter. Our Priest was very supportive and listened to us and our concerns. He acknowledged our situation and concerns and like a true servant of God, gave us some valuable spiritual advice.
He shared that, being in China, has taught him many things. It is not always easy to align yourself to the wishes of those outside of China. The situation in China is quite unique and not like any normal Western country. Many people outside of China (including the church leadership) do not realize this and make assumptions and decisions without being fully informed of the facts on the ground.
He told us that when he finds himself in this type of situation, there are two questions that he always ask himself, “What would Jesus have done?” and “What does the Holy Spirit prompt you to do?”. He told us to always follow the example of Christ. After he prayed with us, he told us to wrestle with these questions and he would also remember us in prayer.
We left the meeting with our Priest feeling comforted and motivated. When we applied the questions: “What would Jesus have done?” and “What does the Holy Spirit prompt you to do?”, to our problem, the answer became absolutely clear and we decided that we will continue with our pursuit of seeking fellowship and share the truth of our situation in China. We thought our Priest would be very unhappy with our decision.
Surprisingly, when we informed our Priest, he had a smile on his face and said that he expected us to make this decision and that he will pray for the success of our initiative.
Our Priest shared with us his confirmation text which was 2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”
He informed us that this confirmation text has been a staff in his hand when assessing situations that requires discernment between what is godly or ungodly, good or evil, man-based or God-based.
Our Priest expressed his admiration for us as young people who are prepared to face serious consequences in our pursuit of being faithful to Christ and seeking the fellowship of God’s children, even in China. He wished us God’s blessing with our initiative.
FOUR YEARS LATER
All this happened four years ago and today we have over 24, 000 followers and more than 22, 000 people like our Facebook Page.
We receive almost daily inbox messages of encouragement. New Apostolic Church members, who have left the church, thank us. Members who have left the choir have found renewed desires to join the choir again, because of the musical items that we post.
When an ex NAC member returns to the church or another decides to join our faith, because of our Facebook Page, we realize the impact that we have. We do not know if other NAC related Facebook Pages have the same impact. We treasure and appreciate every like, comment or inbox message and try to respond as soon as possible. The active engagement with our followers and the inbox messages serves as confirmation that our decision, to continue, was the right decision.
The District Apostle, who threatened us and issued the instruction for us to remove our internet publications, was retired during 2018. We have forgiven him and bear no malice or hard feelings towards him. We wish him well in his retirement, even though he unilaterally transferred us (the only members), out of his District Apostle area (the former NAC South East Asia) into another District Apostle area (the former NAC Australia), without having the decency or courtesy of informing us of the reason for this decision.
We can only assume that our involuntary transfer (expulsion) was as a result of us not following his instructions and not bowing to his human will. Since his retirement, all of Mainland China now forms part of NAC Western Pacific (the old NAC Australia). We can also only speculate on the reason for this decision when looking at the growth, or lack thereof, in our region during his period as District Apostle. Ultimately we all will have to give an account before our Heavenly Father, as stated in Romans 14: 12 – “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
In a divine service conducted in Chicago, Illinois (USA) on 11 June 2017, Chief Apostle Schneider said: “It is very important that our relationship to Jesus is not dependent on the quality of our relationship with His servants. Even if there is something wrong in our relationship to our Priest, our Apostle, or our Bishop, our relationship to Jesus must be preserved.” (Source: nac.today)
By sharing a little bit of background to the establishment of NACIC, we hope that we have encouraged you to KEEP YOUR FAITH ALIVE and REMAIN FAITHFUL TO CHRIST, irrespective of what circumstances you face.
To ensure that you stay informed and entertained, we encourage you to like or follow our Facebook Page, visit our website and follow us on Instagram and Twitter. As always, we appreciate your input and comments. Please comment below.
(Adapted from the article: FAITHFUL TO CHRIST: An extremely difficult experience of Youth Members living in China)