Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 10:21-22 ESV
“I will not be able to see you any more. My niece’s business is in need of workers, so I am going to work there full time now.”
That is all Li Mei said on the phone. After two years of seeing her almost daily, it seemed she was cutting off the relationship. She is “aunt” to our kids. They ask every morning if she is coming over. She has fulfilled many roles for our family from teacher to babysitter to friend to rent negotiator. More than all of that though, she is our sister in Christ.
Several years ago, Li Mei professed faith in Jesus. She was studying the Bible, telling people about Jesus, and went to a local church a few times. However, the persecution quickly came. Li Mei is of Han descent. Her husband threatened to divorce her. Her oldest brother (the patriarch of the family) told her she could not believe in Jesus, but that she must follow Buddhism. When a Buddhist holiday came, she told her family she would not go worship her ancestors, and the threats increased significantly. Her brother threatened to cut her off from the family.
Li Mei loves her family. She talks to her sisters almost daily, and they plan their outings days and weeks in advance. Family is important. She knows they will always be there for her. As a new believer, she did not really know many Christians. If her husband divorced her and her brother forced all of her sisters to turn their backs on her, what would she do? Who would be her family?
At that time, Li Mei called the friend to whom she confessed faith and said, “I am choosing not to believe Jesus.” She chose family over Jesus.
Fast forward to now. Our family and other families know Li Mei’s story. When opportunities arise, we talk about Jesus, and our love for Him, and His love for her and us. However, we have never pushed her to make a decision. About two months ago, she was home one night and decided she wanted to follow Jesus. She confidently and boldly turned to her husband and said, “I am following Jesus.”
That week she shared the news with us and another family. We were excited. She said that she believed she really did trust Jesus the first time she claimed to several years ago. She believed Jesus never gave up on her and was waiting on her to come back. We both began reading the Bible with her and encouraging her. We saw her share the Gospel with people. She shared with anyone whether they were Buddhist or Muslim. If she knew them, she wanted to tell them how God had changed her life.
This time her husband did not really respond. He did not threaten her. He just told her not to talk about Jesus around him. Her brother was furious. He rallied the family to attack her with harsh words and threats. For many weeks she endured them and continued to proclaim her devotion to Jesus to her family and everyone else. There was fruit in her life. Everyone she knows, believers and non-believers, were witnessing the change.
This last weekend she called. She said her family needed her to work in their business full-time and that she would no longer be coming to visit. We assumed the worse that her brother was trying to cut off all contact that she has with followers of Jesus. However, the next day she called and said she had not been able to sleep. She wanted to keep coming over but not as often. She assured us everything was fine.
Today, she showed up and told us what happened. Last weekend, her whole family came to her house and shamed her relentlessly. Her husband threatened to divorce her. Her brothers, who are all sickly, said that the stress was going to kill them. They told her the only hope for the family was for her to deny Christ and go to the temple and repent to “the gods.” She obeyed them. She went to the temple and bowed down before gods made by the hands of men and said she was sorry.
Does she believe in those gods? No. Does she believe in Jesus? Yes, on some level, but at this point she is unwilling to chose Jesus over her family. She is unwilling to make her whole family lose face and favor before “the gods” so that she can follow Jesus. She doesn’t yet understand that standing strong steadfastly believing in Jesus may be the only hope for her family to one day gain favor before the one true God. Every time she denies Christ it confirms in her family’s eyes that she is following a “Western religion.” If she was to endure the persecution without turning from Christ, who knows what impact it might have on her brothers and sisters.
Li Mei has never been a part of a Christian community that took care of her like a family. She has not participated in a Christian community that was a better family to her than her biological one. There are churches in her city, but because of persecution, they are all very careful about accepting new members, new believers. Her brother has been much quicker to attack her than the church has been to fully welcome her into the fold.
This post is written not to criticize the local churches in her community but to call on the global church to pray for our sister. She needs all of our prayers. She needs to know, to believe, that Jesus is standing there beside her every time she is threatened and mocked and laughed at. She needs to know she has a family that loves her and stands beside her, a family that will never forsake her.
We call on you and your local body of believers, your family, to pray desperately for Li Mei this week. We challenge you to set aside a day within the next week to fast and pray for her.
We would love to be able to show her that she has a family around the world who loves her and is praying for her. If you want to write your prayers or the Scriptures you are praying for her in the comments below, we will deliver them to her. You can also tweet them to @pray4hui #pray4LiMei.
- Pray Li Mei will continue to seek Jesus. May she feel His presence. Ask God to lead her to persevere through the persecution.
- Pray that God will send her a sister in Christ who has experienced the same persecution and who will commit to walk with Li Mei through this difficult time.
- Pray that God will open Li Mei’s eyes to see that she has a family of believers who love her and will care for her. Pray that God will also open the eyes of local churches in her community to see her, reach out, pull her in and love her.
- Pray … (search the Scriptures and listen to the Spirit and pray desperately for Li Mei).