Ray Pritchard pastored in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. Married to Marlene for 38 years, he enjoys being a husband, a father and a grandfather, riding his bike, and playing with Dudley and Gary, beloved basset hounds.
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The first people arrive at 8:30 AM to pray. Following Chinese custom, everyone takes off their shoes and puts on slippers before entering the home. Because chairs take up too much room, people sit on mats on the floor.
When we arrived there were 10-15 people kneeling in prayer on rugs in the living room. A young man stood in front of the room, leading in prayer with upraised hands. As we came in, the Chinese believers warmly welcomed us. While we talked, prayer continued in the living room. Peter showed me his office. On one wall there is a huge map of China; on another wall a map of the United States. I was touched when he put his hand over Tupelo on the map and said, “Pastor Ray, almost every day I put my hand right here on the map and pray for you.”
The whole service lasted about two hours. It was a very joyful experience and deeply humbling to be with these very fervent believers who have been under pressure for their faith. Most of them were present at the service in September when the police came and took Peter away for questioning.
This morning I met the lead pastor of the largest house church in Dalian. Last Sunday the authorities came to their service and stopped the pastor from preaching. Peter said that when he visited the church on Friday night, there were people praying and weeping in the basement and on the second floor and the third floor. This touched him deeply.
When I asked Peter how things have changed since the harassment began, his reply was simple. “I preach less and we pray more.” They pray for an hour at least before the sermon and again for 30 minutes after the sermon.
Perhaps this is a lesson for all of us. When hard times come, pray, pray, and keep on praying. Our brothers and sisters in China have shown us the way.
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