I’ve just read a remarkable story, that of Brother Yun, a Chinese evangelist who suffered repeated imprisonments and tortures under the Chinese Communists over a period of 25 years or so. He managed miraculously to escape China and is still active evangelizing in the West. He was one of the main catalysts of the house church movement in China and was personally responsible for the conversion of thousands of souls to Christ. The book is entitled The Heavenly Man. What is most impressive is his dogged and determined faith and obedience to the Lord, his joy in times of severe hardship and suffering, and the total dedication of his life to the glory of the Lord and the salvation of souls.
As you may have noticed, my interest in the persecuted Christians throughout the world has been recently revived. They really deserve our support and prayer. Their Christian faith is not a mere social convention or something that is peripheral to their lives. It is something that they embrace at a high price, which may include imprisonment and even death. They would be appalled at what passes for Christianity in the West, so affluent, so apathetic, so self-absorbed. Brother Yun writes:
“Before I traveled to the West I had absolutely no idea that so many churches were spiritually asleep… Many meetings are cold and lack the fire and presence of God that we have in China. 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… When I’m in the West I see all the mighty church buildings and all the expensive equipment, plush carpets and state-of-the-art sound systems. I can assure the Western church with absolute certainty that you don’t need any more church buildings… God’s Word is missing. Sure, there are many preachers and thousands of tapes and videos of Bible teaching, but so little contains the sharp truth of God’s Word…
“Not only is knowledge of God’s Word missing, but obedience to that Word. There’s not much action taking place. When revival came to believers in China, the result was thousands of evangelists being sent out to all corners of the nation, carrying fire from the altar of God with them… You can never really know the Scriptures until you’re willing to be changed by them…
“I’ve seen people in Western churches worshipping as if they’re already in heaven. Then someone invariably brings a comforting message like, ‘My children, I love you. Don’t be afraid, I’m with you.’ I’m not opposed to such words, but why is it that nobody seems to hear a Word from the Lord like, ‘My child, I want to send you to the slums of Asia or the darkness of Africa to be my messenger to people dying in their sin’? … I’ve watched men and women during offering time in church. They open their fat wallets and search for the smallest amount they can give. This type of attitude will never do! Jesus gave his whole life for us, and we give as little of our lives, time and money as we can back to God. What a disgrace! Repent! This may sound strange, but I even miss the offerings we used to give in China. On numerous occasions the leader of a meeting would announce, ‘We have a new worker who is leaving tomorrow to serve the Lord.’ Immediately every single person would completely empty their pockets of everything they had…
“The main speaker [at a conference in Finland] was a well-known American preacher. Every time he spoke it was about the love and goodness of God. During the prayer time everyone fell down on the floor and laughed. After I spoke I commanded people to kneel down at the foot of the cross of Jesus, and they wept! Tears always come first before the Lord truly moves. He will never pour his blessing out on unsanctified and selfish flesh. The cross of Jesus must be at the center of everything we do… Are you willing to give your all to God and to his service?”
Brother Yun and others are working on an ambitious project to travel from China to Jerusalem, by northern, central, and southern routes, preaching the Gospel all along the way through areas heavily dominated by Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims. Here are a few elements of their training:
“1. How to suffer and die for the Lord. We examine what the Bible says about suffering, and look at how the Lord’s people have laid down their lives for the advance of the gospel throughout history.
“2. How to witness for the Lord. We teach how to witness for the Lord under any circumstance, on trains or buses, or even in the back of a police van on our way to the execution ground.
“3. How to escape for the Lord. We know that sometimes it is the Lord who sends us to prison to witness for him, but we also believe the devil sometimes wants us to go to prison to stop the ministry God has called us to do. We teach missionaries special skills such as how to free themselves from handcuffs, and how to jump from second-story windows without injuring themselves.”
Not your average seminary fare! It is true that their circumstances are not ours, but look at the dedication, the willingness to suffer anything for the sake of the Lord and the Gospel! This is Christianity in action; this is total devotion and loving self-sacrifice. They do not live for this world, and this world has no hold on them, so they are fearless!
We have a lot to learn from our brothers and sisters who live in “restricted” countries, where Christianity is often illegal (or reduced to government-controlled churches full of spies) and heavily persecuted. As the Olympics are being prepared in China, the government is making extra efforts to crush the underground church so that no one will be around to tell the world how they are still brutally persecuted. I recently read that the U.S. State Department has just removed China from their list of human-rights violators, sacrificing many Christian lives to political and economic idols. We are going to go down as the biggest suckers in world history as the powers-that-be in China shrewdly manipulate us.
There are millions of persecuted believers throughout the world, whom we complacent and (comparatively) wealthy Christians routinely ignore. I have decided that I’m going to send Bibles to the underground church in China every month. Click here to find out how (I know that the state-controlled church prints Bibles, but they are only available to state-controlled citizens). Click on the Voice of the Martyrs link to the right and get updates and more information. Pray for them, and empty your pockets, for what you do for Jesus’ suffering brethren you do for Him.
Search Heaven and you will find no lukewarm souls there, no apathetic, indifferent, complacent or self-absorbed souls. Brother Yun describes his missionary movement: “It isn’t a group of well-dressed, slick professionals. It’s an army of broken-hearted Chinese men and women whom God has cleansed with a mighty fire, and who have already been through years of hardship and deprivation for the sake of the gospel. In worldly terms they have nothing and appear unimpressive, but in the spiritual realm they are mighty warriors for Jesus Christ!”
So where do we stand?