I’ll be blogging more about this week’s developments in the CRC Sea to Sea Tour in my regular Monday entry, but I wanted to note that the tour is making a pit stop in Grand Rapids this Sunday, August 17.
The Red Letter Christian Shane Claiborne is the featured speaker. Unfortunately my schedule won’t allow me to attend the ministry fair and worship service at Fifth Third Ballpark.
So far the “Shifting Gears” devotional has not been too overt in promoting the government as the primary agent in wealth redistribution, although admittedly I’ve been attempting to go through the book with a devotional rather than a critical eye.
I have yet to see how cycling against poverty is explicitly connected in any concrete way to the Great Commission, however. And on that point, it’s appropriate to keep in mind how another Christian has used the bicycle as a means to promote the cause of Christ.
This week the Voice of the Martyrs reported that the Chinese pastor who was the inspiration for the VOM Olympic prayer bands has been arrested by Chinese authorities. A VOM email alert states, “Pastor Zhang ‘Bike’ Mingxuan, known for traveling across China on a bicycle to evangelize, was arrested by Chinese police just two days before the Olympics began.”
Here’s more on Pastor Bike:
Pastor Bike, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, rode his bike more than 10,000 miles, visiting 24 Chinese provinces to introduce nonbelievers to Jesus Christ. Armed with a Bible and his business card, which declared “Believe in Jesus, Earn Eternal Life,” Pastor Bike brought the gospel to thousands of people. He and other Chinese evangelists have been repeatedly harassed by Chinese officials during this Olympic year. Please pray for the release of Pastor Bike and his wife.
Examples like Pastor Bike show us that in our concern for material poverty, represented in the CRC’s Sea to Sea Bike Tour, we need to keep a sharp eye on spiritual realities as well.
The challenge for social relief agencies and denominations engaged in advocating for and addresing the alleviation of material poverty is to connect that kind of work in an intentional and meaningful way to the spiritual truths of the Gospel. Without addressing those ultimate realities, concern for the poor risks becoming just another form of the Social Gospel.
For more on the religious freedom situation in China, check out his week’s Acton Commentary, “China’s March Against Religious Freedom,” by PowerBlogger Ray Nothstine.