“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season.” 2 Timothy 4:2
God led Jerry An to this scripture passage while he was writing a devotional to explain the Christian faith in the Chinese context.
An leads Back to God Ministries International’s Chinese language outreach and he has been increasingly aware of a potential change in “seasons” as he shares the Gospel with media.
“I have learned that we must be very tactful in sharing our faith,” An wrote, referring to a heightened level of pressure on churches from the Chinese government. “But we must not be afraid to speak directly about specific difficult situations.”
The words in 2 Timothy stress the urgency of actively sharing the gospel. Still, Paul warns that we must also be prepared for times when people aren’t open to hearing this message. The problem is An isn’t sure if they are heading “in” or “out” of season.
“On the one hand, the government has been more strict,” An says. “Yet, at the same time, in this age of new media we can share the gospel faster than ever before.
Zhang enters the ministry field
An isn’t the only one who found 2 Timothy helpful. At the same time that he was reflecting on it, Zhang* encountered the verse himself.
A recent seminary graduate, Zhang was preparing to travel back to his home country of China after wrapping up an internship with BTGMI. Over the last few years, he has been watching from a distance – studying overseas – as the political situation worsens for Christians.
Then, without even talking to An, Zhang found this passage in 2 Timothy while checking his daily devotional app on his phone.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m going back to a China that’s out of season,” Zhang says. “I know I won’t be as free to talk about God’s Word when I go there, but you have to be prepared to endure suffering.”
A third encounter with 2 Timothy
When it came time for Zhang’s ordination service, he admits that he was only half-listening to the pastor. At first.
“I had a speech to give later in the service, so I wasn’t paying that close of attention when the pastor started reading a Bible verse,” says Zhang. “But then I was surprised that he, too, chose 2 Timothy as a passage to encourage me. Obviously God is trying to tell me something!”
A prayer for Zhang
As Zhang and other Christians like him use their discernment in sharing the Gospel, BTGMI comes alongside leaders like him, offering new tools and technology to proclaim the Gospel. To learn more about how God is working in this context, visit the BTGMI Chinese Ministry page.
An closed his devotional based on 2 Timothy 4 with a prayer. Please pray along with him. “Lord, please shape me, that out of season I may have great patience and prepare well, and in season I may carefully correct, rebuke, and encourage. Amen.”
*name changed for security reasons
This article was made possible through a partnership with CRC Ministries within Canada.
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