"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Heavenly Man

The Heavenly Man is "the remarkable true story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun" with Paul Hattaway. What a challenging book of how God is working in the lives of Christians in China to take the message of salvation to this land that wanted to stamp out religion. "By 1958 the government had closed all visible churches. Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, told foreign visitors, 'Christianity in China has been confined to the history section of the museum. It is dead and buried.' In the 1970s a visiting Christian delegation from the United States reported, 'There is not a single Christian left in China.'" How wrong they were!

God breathed life into China and the Church there has grown into "a force tens of millions strong today [and] is a sign not only of God's existence but also of His matchless power."

This book was incredible! It read like the Book of Acts ...something Western Christians often cannot grasp with our minds that God still works this way. After spending time in the West, Brother Yun remarked that there seems to be something missing from our churches. "In the West many Christians have an abundance of material possessions, yet they live in a backslidden state. They have silver and gold, but they don't rise up and walk in Jesus' name. In China we have no possessions to hold us down, so there's nothing preventing us from moving out for the Lord." Because of persecution, Brother Yun says, "It's almost impossible for the church in China to go to sleep in its present situation. There's always something to keep us on the run, and it's very difficult to sleep while you're running. If persecution stops, I fear we'll become complacent and fall asleep."

To wake up sleeping Western churches, Brother Yun says to return to the Word of God because the "truth will make you free." Also missing is obedience to the Word. "You can never really know the Scriptures until you're ready to be changed by them." He claims that "all genuine revivals of the Lord result in believers responding with action and soul winning. When God truly moves in your heart you cannot remain silent."

He recounts offerings in China where if the leader announced someone was planning to travel to a mission field the next day, the people would empty their pockets of everything for this missionary's travel expenses. This money wasn't simply all they had in their pockets, but often it was all that they possessed period.

Other interesting things besides Yun's 74-day fast without food or water, his miraculous escape from a maximum security prison, and the way God used him to lead others to Christ while imprisoned in China 3 times and Myanmar once:

* Yun said he never was much for singing, but once he accepted Jesus as Lord, he became a singer. (Psalm 40:
3 "He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD." Is this why most Christians love to sing praises to the Lord?) Many times in the book, Yun shared songs he sang while in prison or with fellow believers in the house churches. This story was particularly enjoyable to me:

When I first shared at Gao Village, the Lord gave me Scripture songs to sing before the people. They wrote down the words so they could remember them.
One of the songs was taken from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus tells us if someone strikes us on the right cheek, we should turn our other cheek to him as well. Another song taught how we are to rejoice greatly when we are persecuted for the sake of the gospel. Yet another song explained how we should never be like Judas and deny our Master.
After so many people came to Jesus at once, it caught the attention of the authorities. All the Christians in Gao Village were arrested and taken to the police station. The officers demanded to know, "Who brought the name of Jesus to you? How did you all come to believe in this superstition?"
The believers were filled with overwhelming joy. The only thing they would say was, "We won't be like Judas! We won't betray our Lord Jesus!"
The officers started to beat them and they rejoiced even more. They said, "Please, sir, hit us on the other side of the face as well!" The Christians were laughing and rejoicing.
The officers grew tired of beating them and finally said, "You Christians are all crazy!" After a final warning, they sent them all home. (page 41)

* Although the local Chinese believers take care of the families of those in prison for Christ, they are often extremely poor and cannot adequately provide. After seeing how his own family suffered while he was in prison, Yun "made a commitment to the Lord that [he] would not allow the families of any other imprisoned Christians in China to suffer similar deprivation." He has done all he can to raise support for families of those in prison for the gospel's sake. (Voice of the Martyrs has a "Family of the Martyrs" fund that helps with these types of expenses as well. I really appreciate the ministry of VOM .... see www.persecution.com.)

* "When we arrive at the end of our own strength it is not defeat, but the start of tapping into God's boundless resources. It is when we are weak that we are strong in God." (page 194)

* "In China, Christians are persecuted with beatings and imprisonments. In the West, Christians are persecuted by the words of other Christians." (page 308)

* Yun: "We are absolutely nothing. We have nothing to be proud about. We have no abilities and nothing to offer God. The fact that He chooses to use us is only due to His grace. It has nothing to do with us. If God should choose to raise up others for His purpose and never use us again we would have nothing to complain about." (p. 345)

* Deling, wife: "When I was younger I saw God as a mighty healer who did something for me, but after all these years of valleys and painful trials, Jesus has become an ever-present friend who is with me all the time. He has gone from being a historical God to being a living God to me today. I've fallen short many times during these trials and testings, but he has always been faithful. Whenever I've asked him to help me He always has. Jesus is everything and we are nothing." (p. 346)

To see Brother Yun's current involvement, check out www.backtojerusalem.com. The Chinese Christians are obeying God and are making plans for 100,000 of them to witness to the more than 2 billion people who live west and south of China in what is often referred to as the 10/40 window. They said Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist governments cannot do anything worse to them than what their own government did. If they are killed, they will be with Christ which is far better. They are learning Arabic and English now so they can go forth bringing precious souls into the family of God.

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