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    PloughCast 59: Churches against the Law

    Hannah Nation tells the story of Wang Yi’s imprisonment and the Chinese house church movement.

    By Hannah Nation, Peter Mommsen and Susannah Black Roberts

    May 17, 2023

      So interesting, encouraging and helpful for those of us in church leadership in 'free' nations. We are heartened by their kingdom focus.

    About This Episode

    Hannah Nation tells the story of Wang Yi and the Chinese House Church movement. How has the ramp-up in persecution of the church in China affected pastors and congregations? Hannah, who is editing the ongoing prison writings of the house church pastor Wang Yi, tells the story of these churches.

    She focuses in particular on the story of Pastor Wang. A classical liberal human rights lawyer, he converted as an adult in 2005 and eventually became the pastor of one of the largest and most public of China’s illegal protestant churches. Arrested in 2018, he is now serving a nine-year prison sentence.

    She discusses his intellectual influences, from Luther and Calvin to Kuyper and Van Til, and traces the development of his thought, from an earlier rights-based approach to his current understanding of the church’s role as free by definition, whether or not it has civil freedoms.

    She also discusses the impact of the Covid lockdowns on the house churches, their scrupulous following of lockdown regulations combined with their absolute refusal to stop meeting for any non-Covid related reason.

    Finally, she, Susannah and Peter discuss the lessons that such persecution has to offer the Western church.

    [You can listen to this episode of The PloughCast on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

    Recommended Reading


    Susannah Black Roberts: Welcome back to the PloughCast! This is the third episode in our new series, covering our Pain and Passion issue. I’m Susannah Black Roberts, senior editor at Plough. In this episode, we’ll be speaking with Hannah Nation.

    Peter Mommsen: Hannah Nation serves as managing director of the Center for House Church Theology and content director for China Partnership. She is a co-editor of Faith in the Wilderness: Words of Exhortation from the Chinese Church (Kirkdale Press, 2022), and the editor of Faithful Disobedience: Writings on Church and State from a Chinese House Church Movement, a book of edited writings by the Chinese pastor and legal scholar Wang Yi.

    The demands of the house churches are in essence, the demands of the gospel. This demand is in direct conflict with the state. Article 35 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of religious belief. In other words, social transformation, political progress, freedom, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, these are all good things in the eyes of Christians but they are never the true pursuit of the church. Whether it is slavery or democracy, monarchy or rule of law, the Bible teaches that the church must obey the government’s authority. In short, the Church of Christ is not at all interested in any political and legal system. However, under any political and legal system, the church claims the freedom to worship God and proclaim the gospel. The one law that the church cannot obey is the law that attempts to deprive and control our worship of God and proclamation of the gospel.

    So these are words by the Chinese house church pastor Wang Yi, writing in a new book that just came out, edited by Hannah Nation, who is on our podcast. These are the words of the man who is in fact now in a Chinese prison for his proclamation of the gospel. So this is a great opportunity to talk about the church in China, the persecution of Chinese Christians and of religion in China in general and many other things. The first thing that I’d love to hear about, from you Hannah, is who is Wang Yi, who is this man? It’s amazing that he starts out by quoting the Chinese constitution’s guarantees of religious freedom, and I believe he started out as a legal scholar, is that correct?

    Hannah Nation: Yeah, that’s correct. So he is definitely a pretty fascinating mind to follow. He was trained as a legal scholar and worked as basically a human rights advocate in the classical liberal tradition within China for many years before he became a Christian. Essentially, he had a group of thinkers and scholars that he was friends with, and several people within that group became Christians and were preaching the gospel to him, and he actually started hosting a Bible study in his house with his wife before he himself converted. His wife converted first and then he converted as well, but he was a professor at a university in Chengdu in Southwest China, and really, he was already a pretty notable figure in the landscape of young and rising Chinese thinkers before he converted

    It’d kind of be like if someone who was a prominent writer for the New York Times or the Atlantic on topics of human rights publicly converted and became a Christian in a very public way. Not too long after his conversion, he began pastoring. This is often pretty common in the house churches. Essentially the Bible study that they had been hosting in their house just grew and grew and turned into a church. So, he began pastoring and eventually, left the university he was a professor at, to become a full-time pastor, but throughout all of this, he’s very active in writing, very, very active writing online and really continued to be a notable figure in China.

    Peter Mommsen: So his church, the Early Rain Church, I think it worshiped on the nineteenth floor of an office building, and it had … it was not just worship services, the church also was pretty active in civil society as well, it seems.

    Hannah Nation: Yeah, yeah. Early Rain definitely was not your typical house church, though I would say many things about it are more common to the house churches than we might realize. I think often in America when we hear about house churches, especially because they persist in calling themselves house churches, we kind of have this mental image of a small group of people secretly hiding maybe in a field or in an individual’s apartment, and it’s a small group of people, but really, the landscape of the house churches has changed significantly in the last twenty years, and especially before 2018 when new religious regulations began to be enforced in China, there were many very large house churches that were popping up, especially in the kind of major urban centers of China.

    So Early Rain, before its closure, had grown to over five-hundred people in attendance on a Sunday morning and they had planted many, many churches, but they were also very involved in a lot of things beyond Sunday morning worship. They had started a whole education program, a Christian education program that ran from elementary school all the way through seminary, so postgraduate education. Then, they were also always very involved in all sorts of different justice issues, social services, mercy ministries, basically very active and wanting to serve their city and encouraging other house churches to begin to be more engaged in the culture around them and the city’s needs.

    Peter Mommsen: I often find it remarkable reading the introduction to the book you edited, Hannah, to which we’re dropping the links, by the journalist Ian Johnson, who’s I guess, sort of a Christian. He grew up Episcopalian, at least he says, about just how public the church was and how public Wang Yi’s preaching was. He made no attempt to hide it even though it’s a technically illegal church. Services were open and Wang Yi was happy to have this American journalist come in pretty conspicuously and spend what sounds like hundreds of hours with members of the congregation, joining them for these different activities as well as Sunday services.

    Hannah Nation: Yeah, no, the open nature of that church was very much integral to its identity and its mission. I mean, I think a lot of the house churches, not only Wang Yi’s church, Early Rain, really believe that the church is the best gift that can be given to the city. So, they’re kind of always playing this dance of they want to be free and open enough that people can find them. I’ve heard many interviews with house church pastors in which they basically say, if we’re hidden, those who need us can’t find us. So, we have to be open to a certain extent and be willing to pay the price for that and to count the cost for that. Again, I would say Early Rain was definitely on the far end of that. They were more free and more open in their posture to the city than many house churches.

    I think they really wanted to lead in exemplifying just a heart of freedom and a lack of fear in engaging the city and its needs and taking the risks of that openness onto themselves to really demonstrate what the church can and should be in a context like China’s.

    Susannah Black Roberts: So can you tell us a little bit about that context? Assume no knowledge because I have personally extraordinarily little knowledge about the history of Christianity in China in general and in the last sixty years in particular. So what’s been going on?

    Hannah Nation: Yeah. Well, I mean think … so as most people know, the house churches are illegal. They are all technically illegal gatherings in China. This dates all the way back to the early 1950s and the rise of the Chinese Communist Party. I think the one very common misunderstanding is, it’s very common for people to think that the CCP’s mission is to eradicate religion and religious belief from Chinese society. For sure, there have been times, for example, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, where that was a stated goal, but for most of the last seventy, close to eighty years, really the goal of the party has more been focused on bringing religious life into submission to the CCP and its agenda. So when the party came to power, they didn’t abolish all the religious life in China or the churches.

    They did require that churches join essentially a state church. In China, the Protestant churches are called the Three Self Patriotic Movement or the TSPM, and essentially, it’s really just basically a state church structure where the church is under the oversight of the governing authorities. The house churches were birthed because essentially half of the Christian population in China in the middle of the 20th century entered that state church and half said, “We refuse to enter that state church system. We refuse to submit to a governing authority, really any governing authority, but especially a governing authority that is atheistic by creed.” So that is what birthed the House churches and really an important name for understanding this history is the name of Wang Ming-Dao.

    Wang Yi references him quite frequently in his writings. Wang Ming-Dao was a pastor in Beijing, and he really led the charge against joining the TSPM and his writings were very influential in birthing the house church movement across China.

    Persecution of the house churches has really ebbed and flowed. It was very intense from the 1950s through really the end of the Cultural Revolution. The first generation of house church pastors, the house church fathers were all severely persecuted. They spent decades in jails and labor camps, if not died, during those times. Then, there was this period in which there was a lot of leniency towards the house churches and religious life in China. Really as China began opening up economically again, opening up to the West again, there was this long, multi-decades long period where the church has never stopped being illegal and persecution didn’t stop entirely.

    It was a much, much more lenient time, really leading up to 2018, and that’s when just this explosion of Christianity took place across China. Today it’s estimated that there are over one hundred million Christians across China, which is just a sizable … very sizable church, even given how large China’s population is, that’s a very robust number. In 2018, Xi introduced a new series of religious regulations and honestly, the regulations themselves are kind of boring. They’re really just focused on a lot of administrative seeming type stuff regarding the legality of meetings and where they can meet and all these types of things, but they’ve been used to great effect to really bring us into a new wave of increased persecution on the house churches.

    It’s nothing like what happened in the middle of the twentieth century, but this is definitely a much more intense time for the house churches across China again today.

    Peter Mommsen: Specifically to carry on the story of Wang Yi, he didn’t start off as a Christian. He converted to the faith as an adult, right? What put him in the crosshairs of this new crackdown on house churches?

    Hannah Nation: Yeah. Well I mean, by and large just the openness of the church, and he also has been very outspoken in directly calling out Xi Jinping, which I think in many ways put a target on his back, but I think in many ways … and Wang Yi talks about this a lot, the conflict between the house churches and the CCP is really a conflict of allegiance and ultimate allegiance. In the Chinese context, he’s really saying, the problem with the CCP is that they want the ultimate allegiance and love of their people and the reason that they are so keen to regulate religious life in China has to do with this sense that they don’t want there to be competing allegiances in their society. They don’t want there to be allegiances that are higher than the CCP and really China itself.

    Wang Yi often talks about it as this very big picture conflict, and I think there’s definitely a lot to consider in what he’s saying. I think even outside of China, what he’s saying about allegiance and about where the church’s highest love lies, there’s a lot that is very thought-provoking in what he says about that. I think really the TSPM is the avenue by which the CCP works to regulate the life of the Protestant church in China. There’s a lot about the state church that is very regulated, very limited in terms of just their ecclesiology and their theological education. So Wang Yi has taken issue with that, and he’s taken issue with it very, very publicly. Especially in the new era of Xi’s authority.

    I think we really see Xi becoming increasingly and more so keen to … I don’t know necessarily to go back to forms of control that were present under Mao or in the twentieth century, but for sure, much more interested in regulation of identity and regulation of allegiance across China.

    Susannah Black Roberts: It’s so hard to imagine what it would actually look like to be worshiping under these circumstances. Do you have stories that you could tell or anecdotes?

    Hannah Nation: Yeah. Well, I mean, for most Christians across China, even today with the increasing persecution, Sunday morning worship probably looks a lot more similar to how we might experience Sunday morning worship than we think of. Actually, you can pretty easily go online, even on YouTube and find videos of Early Rain’s worship services and of Wang Yi preaching, and honestly, it doesn’t . . .

    Peter Mommsen: To be clear, Early Rain doesn’t exist anymore, right? Is that correct?

    Hannah Nation: Correct. Yeah. So they do exist just very much not in the form that they existed before 2018.

    Peter Mommsen: Their structure was pretty systematically dismantled at that point.

    Hannah Nation: Yeah, I can explain more of that as well. Yeah, so house church … and, well, one thing that’s important to note too is that China is a massive country, and if you have one hundred million Christians across China, then you’re going to have a lot of different experiences and a lot of different realities. So, not all churches in China have faced … even house churches have faced persecution. It is on the rise, but there are many house churches today that still have never faced anything like what Early Rain faced. There are also many churches that do face very similar circumstances to what Early Rain and Wang Yi experienced, and you get reports regularly of house churches that are undergoing severe persecution. One of the funny realities of Christianity in China is that it’s very based on the local context and the local social pressures.

    So kind of a general rule of thumb is that places in China where there’s more political unrest or social upheaval, whether that’s economic or other, those tend to be places where persecution breaks out against their church places. For example, the coastal cities, which are just very economically prosperous and just in their governing structure, more independent from the CCP, there tends to be more freedom and stability even today for those churches. So for example, Wang Yi’s church in 2018, December of 2018, what happened was that there was a very intense and very public attack on the church. I mean, they had just hundreds of government officials and police who were orchestrated in this attack. It clearly had been planned for a very long time.

    They began by arresting Wang Yi and his wife and then, they systematically went through and arrested all of the other pastors and the elders. They were a Presbyterian church in polity. They arrested the entire session and all the leadership of the church, all of whom spent a significant amount of time in jail. Most of them spent close to a year in jail. Beyond that though, they then basically went through and over the following weeks and even months arrested, probably estimates are over half of the congregation. It was probably around 300 people, who at some point, were arrested and interrogated and spent some number of days in detention, but they also basically destroyed the church’s entire property. They confiscated … they had a very large library, probably the largest theological library held by a house church or unregistered churches library.

    So all of that was confiscated and taken away. They did a lot of very aggressive things like removing foster children from families’ homes within the church, forcibly relocating people to their hometowns if they weren’t natives of Chengdu. Really, the list just goes on and on of the attacks that were carried out against the church. So on the one hand, there’s that and that was a very, very intense case. Again, I know many pastors and churches who have experienced very harsh forms of persecution over the following years since 2018. On the other hand, though, I know of people, I have a friend who was here in the US for seminary and returned to a prominent city, I won’t say which one, to church plant. He returned after 2018, knowing what he was going back to.

    He was supposed to launch his church the week of the Wuhan lockdown, and no one knew what was going to happen, but a year later, his church had gone from five to one hundred people and on their first baptism Sunday, they had baptized … it was like eight adults and five kids or something. Now, two years later from that, they are already going ahead and planting a second church. They’ve had no interference from any authorities, and they really are operating quite openly and quite freely. So this is China. This is just the kind of paradox of the house church reality that there can be very significant persecution on the one hand and then, you can go just across the country or up the coast, and the reality is quite different, dependent on the local authorities.

    Susannah Black Roberts: Just a little housekeeping: don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasting needs met! We’ll be back with the rest of our conversation with Hannah Nation after the break.


    Susannah Black Roberts: I’m curious about what lockdown, what Covid looked like for the churches in China. Obviously, Americans also had a kind of difficulty with meeting together, but in such a different context. What happened during lockdown?

    Hannah Nation: Yeah, so most of the churches I know of, they were really intent on following lockdown regulations. I would say generally speaking, house church Christians in China desire to be very, very good citizens. They really love their country. And so even though they’re very committed to essentially disobeying regulations in order to gather as the church, really apart from disobeying on that front, they’re very quick to comply and to follow their authorities on really almost every other matter.

    Peter Mommsen: Well, there’s this great quote from Wang Yi, which is just remarkable knowing that this is a man who’s incarcerated, “For sixty years, house churches have continuously adopted peaceful patient means to become law-abiding representatives of Chinese society,” right?

    Hannah Nation: Yeah. This is I would say generally be the posture of really all house church Christians I know. He says very clearly that the church must be willing to give up all of its rights, whatever they might be, except for, he says the mysteries that have been given to them, which he basically says are its doctrines, its offices and the work that it has to do. So, we actually have come across this story pretty recently from a woman who was incarcerated for two weeks, kind of in connection to Covid regulations, and I think her experience is a really good example of what Covid lockdown was like for the church. Basically, her church complied and they didn’t meet throughout the regulation or the lockdowns in person, but they were very, very committed to meeting online. So as soon as the regulations were lifted, they booked a hotel conference room in order to gather together and share the Lord’s supper with each other. While they were meeting though, they all got alerted on their phones because this is how it happens in China. They all got an alert on their phone that one more case of Covid had been discovered in the city that morning. So, they were all in a scramble to get back to their homes when the police came and interfered because they were meeting together publicly as a group of people in the midst of this hour old Covid lockdown. So she was arrested because they had met together despite the ban being lifted for about twenty-four hours. So, I think that’s just a good example of how the church is. The Covid lockdowns in China have been very intense, and they have definitely been very, very hard for their churches.

    And there has been a lot of persecution that has happened against the churches in conjunction with the reality of the Covid lockdowns, but it’s a very complicated picture, and the churches have really sought to be exemplary citizens abiding by their regulations throughout it all. I think one of the things that really jumps out to me is just how much they have been thinking through these questions of what is the church and how do we never waiver on our commitment to gather together as the church, but also, adapt to the realities around us. So, I would say they are miles ahead of us on thinking through questions of digital church and when is a digital meeting acceptable and when is it not, and what are the guidelines and the parameters that should guide us as the church in thinking through those questions.

    Also just, they love to gather together and they see and understand how much gathering is essential to the life of the church. So even though they abide by the lockdown regulations, you can see they’re so quick to gather back together again. I think there’s just … watching them go through this has really challenged a lot of my thoughts in all of this, because I think in America, we both … we’re very limited in our understanding of what it means to gather, but also the importance of gathering and so on both sides of how these issues have fallen out in the United States. They kind of challenge us on both sides of those, I think because they remind us that if not gathering in our church building, if that is all that our understanding of the church is, that if our understanding of church is limited to gathering in a church building, then we have a really problematic view of what it means to be the church.

    Also, if we’re not quick and eager to gather again when we’re able, then we also, in that sense, have a very problematic view of the church.

    Peter Mommsen: It’s fascinating.

    Susannah Black Roberts: Yeah. I’m really interested to think about Wang Yi as a … I guess as a thinker and as someone who, presumably when he was just … before converted, when he was a sort of public intellectual and professor, he couldn’t have been really on the right side of the Chinese government even then because he was . . .

    Hannah Nation: For sure. Yeah.

    Susannah Black Roberts: He was a classical liberal and he was talking about human rights abuses and about law, but it was becoming a Christian that kind of intensified … it was a sort of a, yes … it was the same thing but more, but also something different. You wrote that his training as a legal scholar influenced by both Western and Chinese political philosophy goes hand in hand with his development as a theologian and biblical scholar who has shifted his focus increasingly from the topic of rights to the kingdom of God. Can you talk more about how he thinks about rights and how he thinks about freedom and how that shifted?

    Peter Mommsen: I would also say, I mean because of his background in classical liberalism, this topic of religious liberty, which in this country is such a live issue, especially over the last few years, what that means, it’d be fascinating.

    Hannah Nation: Yeah. Well, so I mean, one of the interesting things when you read Wang Yi is just taking note of who he’s citing and referencing. So you definitely immediately notice Rutherford and Locke and these kind of traditional names. After he became a Christian, he was very influenced by a lot of Calvinistic thought. So, he definitely read Calvin and Luther and the reformers. I also have a friend who is currently finishing up a dissertation on Wang Yi and Neo-Calvinism and going through all of his writings, because what we have in the book is really just a small portion of his body of work, but going through and really chasing the influences of the Neo-Calvinist and just figures like Kuyper and Van Til, but also there’s just been a lot of much more modern influence on his thought.

    He engaged a lot with the work of Keller and some of the more recent theological work coming out of the United States. So he has read just a ton, and that’s just on the Western side. When you go through and you are looking at Chinese influences, there are many as well. One of the things that I always like to highlight with the Chinese influences is not just the liberal intellectuals that he followed and read, but also he was really active in trying to read about the history of the house church, which the house church fathers were definitely not as much intellectually wired or focused as the newer generation is and so, he’s very interested to try to trace down these primary sources from the house church fathers and is just very seeped in the history and the legacy of their writings and their thinking and their very much more kind of fundamentalist theology.

    In terms of Wang Yi’s thoughts on freedom and just his thoughts on religious freedom, I think it’s very complex. I long for the day that he comes out of prison, and hopefully we are given the opportunity to ask him some of these questions because I see in him a lot of development and a lot of, not shifting, but just movement in his thought where works from the early 2010s, you see him just talking a lot with a language of rights, but the further you … or the closer you get to 2018 and to his arrest, he really takes on more and more this language of the kingdom of God, and especially the Kingdom of God eschatologically. I think one of the most important works in my mind is … it’s a very short work, but it’s called The Cross and the Landfill.

    In this work, he really lays out his view of the church’s role in the world and how he talks about the church as a ballet dancer that’s dancing on a landfill and how the beauty of the dance is magnified by the landfill that surrounds it, and how we are as the church in a sense, free to do this dance and called to do this dance in order to point people to our eschatological destiny and the church’s end. I think that, he also talks about how for the churches in China, as they face the CCP, the fight is over the meaning of the landfill and who gets to define what the landfill is. So this is where I see this shift happening that for him, the church is free when it understands the true meaning of the world around it. What guarantees the freedom of the church is not the rights that it can attain for itself in a political arena.

    What makes the church free is understanding the big picture and understanding the big picture of the gospel, understanding the true meaning of the world, understanding the true meaning of the landfill as he says, and that the point of disagreement between the church and the governing authorities and the powers above it is who gets to define these meanings, who gets to define our reality around us, and who has the right to do that. So, he begins to speak a lot less about rights, I think, because he’s just talking more and more about these ultimate questions of meaning and purpose and our destiny.

    Peter Mommsen: There’s a few lines I just jotted down along those lines, because I was thinking of what churches in the secularizing West might apply from some of these insights, from churches that have struggled to survive. “The church does not need external ‘religious freedom.’ We do not need a religious civil rights movement. We need a genuine gospel movement.” I guess that’s sort of saying what you were saying, that the church is free by its nature, right? I mean, that’s what early Christians said under the Holy Roman Empire, if you read Justin Martyr’s apology to Christians. He emphasizes, we’re good subjects, we pray for you. We pay our taxes. We’re the best of subjects, but we look to this kingdom that’s coming, that’s going to relativize all the claims of the Roman Empire.

    Hannah Nation: Yeah, exactly. Exactly, and that’s where – He has this quote where he says, essentially that the church is free already. It doesn’t have to have political protections and rights to be free. The church is already free and nothing changes that. So, the church is empowered to live boldly when it recognizes that, what makes a church able to be bold in its society is when it recognizes the freedom it already has, because then it makes decisions accordingly. I think that’s kind of getting back to some of the things we were talking about earlier. That’s so much of why Early Rain was so public and kind of unusually extremely public in Chinese society because they really believed that they were already free and living out the freedom of the gospel in a society that may not recognize that freedom, but they have a higher understanding and a higher authority above the CCP and its desire to define the terms.

    Peter Mommsen: Well, that’s a great point to close on, but there is one more question I have to ask, is how did you get into this? You are actually the managing director of the Center for House Church Theology. Obviously, you are motivated by the sense that there’s something that we Christians in the West have to learn.

    Hannah Nation: Yeah.

    Peter Mommsen: From our brothers and sisters there.

    Hannah Nation: Honestly, I wouldn’t say I got into this accidentally. I could definitely see the Lord’s leading over the course of my life, but it was not something that I … I didn’t go to college thinking that this was where it was going to end up in life, but yeah, I had a pretty international childhood, and I’ve lived in a million different places. When I was in college, I essentially went to China on a whim. I was really curious to see the Great Wall, but I also had my dad as a professor, and he had a Chinese grad student who became a Christian and then, I had some friends from college who went and taught English in China. So there was just this one year where it was kind of crossing my path a lot, and I thought, “Oh, maybe I’ll go do that too.” So we went and taught English for a summer in 2005, and it just was amazing.

    I mean, if you’ve never been to Asia, if you’ve never been to China specifically as a Westerner, it’s really hard to go and not just be totally blown away by the reality of 1.3 billion people who … I mean, I think I was a history major, so I’ve always kind of had this interest in the big questions and the big picture, always had an interest in world history. Yeah, that summer was just really, really pivotal in my life and came back and just really have … for the last twenty years, had a sense that the next chapter of church history is already unfolding across China, and that’s where it will continue to unfold among other global contexts. I’ve been involved in a lot of different things. I was involved with student ministry to Chinese students for really all of my twenties and then, went to seminary and realized that I really love writing and intellectual engagement.

    Out of that time I was recruited into the work that I do now, which is basically working to help bring out the writings and the thought of the Chinese house churches, to help bring those out from China, share them with a global church because yeah, I really believe that there’s a lot that we can learn from them. China is … in the US as we’ve said already in this conversation, there’s so much fear regarding the increasing secularization of our culture and just the marginalization of the church. I don’t personally believe that we are facing persecution. I do think, though, that we are very much having to come to terms with our social marginalization and the fact that we’re not at the center of a lot of things anymore. For a lot of people, that causes fear and dismay. When you look outside of the Western world, when you look at places like China, you can find churches that are thriving and growing and excelling at being the church under far greater pressures than we face here.

    So we can be encouraged, we can be deeply encouraged in knowing that you don’t have to have cultural power or protections and rights for God’s work to be done in and through the church. So, yeah, my heart is really to help foster and further those voices that can help give us a better picture of what it means for the church to persevere under pressure and that it’s something we can endure and be encouraged by as well.

    Peter Mommsen: It’s been great talking, Hannah.

    Hannah Nation: Thank you so much for having me.

    Susannah Black Roberts: And we’d love to hear just about your work as it continues.

    Thanks for listening, be sure to subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast needs met, and share with your friends! For a lot more content like this, check out for the digital magazine. You can also subscribe: $36/year will get you the print magazine, or for $99/year you can become a member of Plough. That membership carries a whole range of benefits, from free books, to regular calls with the editors, to invitations to special events, and the occasional gift. Go to to learn more.

    Contributed By HannahNation Hannah Nation

    Hannah Nation serves as managing director of the Center for House Church Theology and content director for China Partnership.

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    Contributed By portrait of Peter Mommsen Peter Mommsen

    Peter Mommsen is editor of Plough Quarterly magazine. He lives in upstate New York with his wife, Wilma, and their three children.

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    Contributed By portrait of Susannah Black Roberts Susannah Black Roberts

    Susannah Black Roberts is a senior editor of Plough.

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