Prior to the year 2007, Chinese and Foreign members of the New Apostolic Church in China were allowed, by the church, to associate with one another. This however changed and during 2007 the New Apostolic Church made two important decisions, namely:
- Dismiss the Chinese Apostle Daniel Wang (Chinese name: Wang Liwei) and stop soul-care for the 10,000 New Apostolic Church members and ministers in his work area,
- Instruct Foreign members of the New Apostolic Church to stay away from Chinese members of the church, in China
These two decisions resulted in the separation between Chinese and Foreign (Non Chinese) members of the New Apostolic Church in China.
Following these decisions, any attempts to unite Chinese and Foreign members of the New Apostolic Church in China, were actively opposed through the spreading of misinformation. The official reason for the separation was given as, “for the safety of our Chinese members”.
The Chinese religious law provides for Chinese and Foreign Christians to worship together at legally approved venues where Chinese preachers conducts divine services.
What does the Bible tell us about UNITY amongst Christians?
The Bible underlines the importance of “unity” and “oneness.” Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” UNITY is absolutely essential because the church is the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27), and a body cannot be in disunity or disharmony with itself.
If disunity occurs, it essentially ceases to be a body and becomes a disjointed group of individuals. Jesus’ plan for His church is people unified in the faith.
The statement of Jesus, in John 17, indicates the fundamental importance of the spiritual UNITY between the Father and the Son, and those whom God has chosen out of the world (John 17:6).
John 17:21 – “that they all may be one, as You, Father are in me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me”. The Unity between Father and Son and among the followers was of the utmost importance to the credibility of Jesus’s sending by the Father…”so that the world may believe”.
It can therefore be interpreted that Jesus wanted to indicate that the lack of UNITY among His followers, would make it difficult for the world (Non-Christians) to believe that God sent Him.
The ultimate aim of Christian UNITY is the glory of God. Apostle Paul prayed, “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God” (Romans 15:5-7).
It is acceptable to have differences of opinion on non-essential spiritual matters, like the impact of culture on worship styles, dress codes, local laws, etc. Whether you believe one or the other, it does not affect your salvation. However, some people use these non-essential differences as justification for division among Christians.
Our main focus as Christians, here in China, should be to work together to glorify God and expand His kingdom. We should all display an attitude of humility and help to bring about this important UNITY.
It is the devil that wants us to fall into the trap of divisions and separations. The devil knows that the lack of unity and the forced separation of Christians, will make it difficult for the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, here in China.
Despite the dangers, which the first Christians faced, they were prepared to sacrifice their lives, rather than being separated. They fought to preserve the UNITY. We should follow the example of the first Christians, as described in Acts 2:42 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
To answer the question, “Is UNITY among Chinese and Foreign members of the New Apostolic Church in China ever possible?” The answer surely must be, “With God nothing is impossible.”