The strongest faith I’ve ever encountered wasn’t in Houston, or Dallas, or even in Nashville. Nope, it was in Fuzhou City, the capitol of the Fujian Province, in China. It surprised me too. It was the last place, and frankly, the last people I would’ve thought to have great faith. But they did. They had an amazing connection with Jesus.
After leaving the desert, Jesus moved to Capernaum and began making disciples, and was soon beset by critics and cranks. He didn’t mind. They couldn’t thwart him. Just ask the citizens of his home town Nazareth, who failed in their attempt to kill him.
With his apostles, Jesus began visiting the villages and seeking the synagogues; he preached good news, helped the helpless, and healed the hurting. He was the Messiah, anointed to preach, to help, and to heal.
One day some Jewish elders approached Jesus with a request. A Centurion, who lived in the area, sent the elders to plead with Jesus to heal one of his ailing servants. As Jesus approached, the Centurion’s friends met him to say he needn’t go any farther. The Centurion recognized his authority, and if Jesus would just give the word, his servant would be healed. Jesus gave the word.
It was unusual for a Roman to ask something from a Jew. But he was not the usual Roman. He valued and cared for his Jewish servants, and had even built their synagogue. But what really set him apart was his faith. He understood Jesus; and he understood how authority worked up and down the chain of command. He acknowledged that Jesus was at the highest level of authority.
Our Messiah was amazed at the Centurion’s faith because he had not found that kind of faith anywhere in Israel. Where would he find it today?
The Chinese Christians were mostly converted atheists. They lived in a city of six million and were overwhelmingly outnumbered by the unbelievers. They daily faced ridicule, rejection, and persecution. Yet hundreds gathered every morning to pray for souls and open hearts. They evangelized in the downtown streets, in the shadows of the steel and glass towers. The Fujian disciples were devout and committed to the Lord of Good News. I was amazed by their great faith. For in spite of their trials and tribulations, they served with glad and sincere hearts.
Amazed, Jesus said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”
Or Nashville, or Dallas, or Houston?