How the Blessing of Persecution Works

Danger? Suffering? Isn’t that what Jesus said would follow those who follow Him?

In the fall of 1895, Alphonso Argento made his way from his native Sicily to London, where he was scheduled China Christians persecutedto undergo extensive training for China Inland Mission. Argento had been burdened for China four years earlier, when he committed his life to being a missionary there.

In his initial interview with China Inland Mission, Argento was warned about the dangers of preaching the gospel in China. His reply,

“I am not afraid even to die for Christ and the gospel. I was led to take this step after having known Christ’s promise, ‘Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’”[1]

Jesus promised persecution to His people. Argento expected it from the beginning.

China was growing more and more unstable, as many nationalists were growing violently intolerant of Christian missionaries. In July of 1900, the Boxer Rebellion was underway, and the mission station in Henan Province—where Argento was serving—was attacked. Argento was beaten, thrown on a pile of wood, and burned. But he did not die. With the help of others, he escaped momentarily. Then, Argento was stopped and beaten again.

This final beating rendered him unconscious. In fact, the injuries Argento sustained on this night would plague him for the next 17 years, until, eventually, they would cost him his life.  Argento survived the attack, but had to suffer further taunting and ridicule from the locals, who told him, “Your God cannot save you. Jesus is dead; he is not in this world. He cannot give you real help. Our god of war is much stronger; he protects us, and he has sent the Boxers to pull down your house and kill you.”

Argento succumbed to his injuries 17 years later, but he never really died (see John 11:26).  Today in the Guangshan area where Argento served, God has raised an army of believers which numbers more than 120,000. Argento, an Italian grain of wheat, did suffer and die in China, but, dying, this grain of wheat brought forth much fruit. Everything has turned out just as Jesus promised.

[1] Hattaway, Paul. China’s Christian Martyrs (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2007) 326. This story is adapted from Hattaway’s book, which can be found here.

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