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The Transition of Power

This month of July witnesses the incorporation of Hong Kong into the People’s Republic of China. In 1999 Macao will be brought back in. The mainland continues to cast its eyes at the so-called “break away province” of Taiwan. What does the future hold for the Chinese? The alternatives appear to be: the old guard clamping down as at Tiananmen Square, continued prosperity in certain economic zones, and their expansion. Or maybe. . . ?

Eighty-five years ago this July 12th Prof. E. L. Arndt was commissioned as missionary to China by the Evangelical Lutheran Mission for China. In that far away time of 1912 this society was formed to do mission work in China. It consisted of members of the orthodox Synodical Conference.

Prof. Arndt was said to be “bigoted” by the religious unionists of his day because he held to the truth of God’s Word and practiced such. Regardless of the comments of detractors, God used him in China. That Prof. Arndt made his first public sermon in Chinese three months after his arrival is evidence that the Spirit of God worked mightily in him.

There are many interesting stories about this clay vessel who bore the precious treasure of Christ to the Chinese. His frugality was well-known. When a representation of the mission had to be sent to the states, it was decided to send him. “We shall send Rev. Arndt, because we know he will travel third class.” When communist insurgents threatened the safety of foreigners in Hankow in 1927 many were evacuated to Shanghai, including all the missionaries except Pastor Arndt who stayed at his post.

Although Arndt was no young man when he left China, the Lord allowed him to labor for Him for 16 years. Thank God. Mrs. Arndt at the age of 48 did not want to leave her home in the USA. She prayed that something would happen to keep her from going. Though her friends and relatives also discouraged the trip, the Lord’s will was done. She served faithfully at her husband’s side until the Lord called her home. Pastor Arndt wanted to die in China and consequently disliked taking even a furlough lest he should die away from his beloved China. The Lord granted his wish, giving him eternal rest on April 18, 1929.

What is our wish for China as we witness the transition of power in Hong Kong? May our prayer be that God raises up by His power more like Pastor Arndt that there may be a true transition of power–that the kingdom of darkness may lose more and more of its adherents to the kingdom of light.

But, you say, “We cannot send in missionaries to China as when Arndt went!” Another needed prayer item indeed. Who knows what God will do? Remember back when the Soviet Union seemed to be an evil empire that just went on and on and on? And now in the republics of the dismantled empire there are missionaries by the droves.

“The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). May God’s wish be our prayer. He ” . . . desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).

As we witness the events in Hong Kong this month, pray that the power of the “old guard” Satan may be broken in China, and that the “prosperity” of the Gospel of forgiveness of sins in Christ be expanded mightily among the people.

–Pastor David Koenig