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This is Why He Came

Stories of Salvation and Transformation from Around the World

Through Much Tribulation: The Story of Wang Ming-Dao

by Kathleen Sotomayor, DBU Student

In the midst of great darkness and life-imprisonment, God restored Wang Ming-Dao to his brightest hour. The words redemption, turnover, passion, and zeal characterize the life of Wang Ming-Dao, considered a patriarch of the house-church movement in China.

Converted to Christianity at the age of 14, he went on to pastor the Peking Christian Tabernacle, which he started as a small household gathering. As Wang and his team persevered in the little (Luke 16:10), God allowed them to harvest much, with growth in membership to 570 members throughout the years, making it one of the largest evangelical churches in Beijing.  

Before his life-imprisonment, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) wanted to bring the national church under Communist government control in China. For this reason and due to the TSPM’s preaching of a liberal “social gospel,” Ming-Dao voiced opposition to the movement and said, “they ignore the essential atoning work of Christ for the individual’s eternal salvation and the purifying effect it has in this life.”

Grounded in Scripture, with Jesus as his cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-22) and concerned for the purity of the Gospel (Galatians 1:9), Wang saw the need for men and women to know the truth to set them free. As churches all over China were being either nationalized or persecuted, Peking Christian Tabernacle became an oasis in the spiritual desert of the time, where faithful biblical preaching could still be heard.

He and his wife, Jing Wun, faced some of the hardest years of their lives beginning in 1955. For thirty-three years, Wang had faithfully served his country to show them where their hope should rest, in the atoning and redeeming work of Christ and obedience to his Word. Despite all his efforts, Wang preached his last sermon in that year before the police imprisoned him and his wife as counter-revolutionaries.

Wang endured beatings and brutality from his fellow prisoners to confess his crimes. Amid all the oppression, Wang weakened and “confessed to crimes he had not committed and agreed to join the TSPM and preach for them. He signed a document stating that he was a counter-revolutionary, and he and Jing Wun were freed” (Georgina Giles, TGC).

However, guilt for the betrayal of his Lord haunted Wang, and soon after he publicized his decision not to join the official TSPM church, and posted a series of theses communicating a vision for how the government and the church should co-exist with greater independence from each other. And exactly seven months later, both he and his wife were imprisoned again.   

Wang Ming-Dao cared the most about giving glory to God, and he was willing to put his life aside for the sake of truth, justice, and a sound proclamation of the Gospel in the face of much opposition and during a dark period for the Christian Church in China. Wing did not care about how other people viewed him or his past failures, and certainly did not let that define his life. He found strength and purpose in Jesus Christ through Micah 7:8, a Scripture that God gave to him while imprisoned. “When I fall I shall arise, when I sit in darkness the Lord will be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me.”  

Out of his failures and in gratitude for God’s sustenance of he and his wife’s lives, he began to preach again in 1979 after being freed from his 22-year prison sentence.  Old, nearly blind, and toothless, Wang stepped out of prison, but his life was radiant with abundant fruit, a radical turnover, and a blessing for the growth of Christianity in China. Today, Wang Ming-Dao is considered one of the greatest Chinese Christian leaders of the twentieth century.  “Redemption is real because Wang’s life shows that even when we give in to the pressure of this world and are unfaithful, God not only remains faithful in nature, but he uses the weak for His glory” (John Gill, TGC).  

Wang Ming-Dao’s life is an excellent example of God’s redeeming power and steadfast love towards His people. As we prepare to experience the joy and celebration of Christmas Day, we give all glory, honor, and power to the only One who can truly change lives and strengthen His people to live zealously for Him. As this year’s end approaches, reflect on the life transformation and Gospel passion modeled in the story of Wang Ming-Dao, but ultimately rejoice in how Christ brings transforming hope to all nations with the coming of Jesus Christ. How is He calling you to respond to that truth today? 

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