The Radical Chinese House Churches (Part 1)
The Lord taketh pleasure in His people; He will beautify the meek with salvation.
Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand;
To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
To execute upon them the judgment written:
This honor have all His saints.
Praise ye the Lord.
There is a powerful, anointed church in China. She is a beautiful bride prepared and waiting for her Bridegroom. I have read short accounts of God’s testimony on the other side of the globe and been deeply challenged by their lives. Recently, at our Youth Bible School, we had the privilege of hearing a detailed account of many of their lives. Two men closely connected with the persecuted church in China shared their story. When the meeting was over, I sat and interviewed these two men, asking them specific questions which I felt would help us American Christians get a vision. This article is an account of that interview.
The names of the two men have been withheld to protect them and to preserve their freedom to enter the country of China. I will call them Brother Ren and Brother Paul in this article. There is great blessing in considering the testimony of God’s persecuted people. My prayer is that we will be humbled and challenged to seek a better way for us in the days ahead. We may be facing the same things that they do sooner than we think.
Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; That ye may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God forever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death.
In the Bible, Zion is the Church. Many Scriptures refer to her with this name.
In Psalm 48, we are admonished to study Zion. It is for our
benefit, and for the benefit of the generation to come to consider
the way God worked and is working in Zion. Why? “For this God
is our God,” and what He is doing for others, He can do for
us and for our children. We can walk about Zion as we study
Christian history, Christian biographies, and accounts of the
saints in other parts of the world. This is the burden and
goal of this article. What God is doing in China, He wants
to do here in America. He is no respecter of persons or places.
So fasten your seat belt and prepare to be deeply humbled by
this witness. I am.
~ INTERVIEW ~
Bro Denny: When I was listening to you, I wrote a few questions that I had wanted to ask you. One is about fasting and prayer. How much do the people fast and pray in the house churches of China?
Bro Ren: Let us take prayer first. The leaders of the church in China try to pray three to four hours a day. That is normal. But then there are some brethren who are totally committed to pray. Almost every minute they are awake, they are praying. They cannot even be elders in the church because of the amount of time they spend in prayer. They have two kinds of leaders in the church. They have spiritual leaders, who fast and pray; then they have practical operational leaders, who are active in everyday affairs of the church. The praying leaders are praying for the whole church, and especially for the practical leaders. They are not in a preaching ministry. The operational leaders go to them for direction and wisdom. Very few Westerners have ever met these elders. These men are older men who cannot travel anymore, so they are mainly in that ministry. It literally keeps the church on track. They hear from the Lord and give answers to the practical leaders.
Bro Paul: I know a brother who never sleeps more than two hours a night. He prays for 22 hours a day. The brothers and sisters pray always, and there are many all-night prayer vigils. I have been to some of these prayer meetings. By morning, the floor is slippery because of all the tears that flow during prayer.
Bro Denny: What about fasting? What part does fasting play in all these testimonies we have heard?
Bro Ren: There are two kinds of fasting in China. Most of the pastors have to fast because they don’t have money to buy food. It is a natural part of their lives. The other kind of fasting is out of a burden for someone or some spiritual issue. When you read from Brother Yun’s book, you will read how he fasted one hundred days to get one Bible during the Cold War revolution. He was eating a small bowl of rice each day; that is all. That means there was no time that he wasn’t fasting. After one hundred days of prayer and fasting, he received a Bible in a supernatural way. That story is there. It is not in anyway special. The people fast like that often.
During one of the meetings on this tour, Paul was sharing something about one of the gospel teams. The first time we sent about twenty people out to preach. Nineteen of them were arrested; one came back to report. Everyone else was detained for six months. We sent another group. The same thing happened. One lady came home on a stretcher. They smashed her skull. She was paralyzed, but later God restored her. When there is such resistance like this in one specific location, then the whole team goes to fasting and praying. Usually this kind of fasting will break the yoke within thirty days, and then the gospel has free course. When there is a real resistance, the teams do not try to push the gospel. They just go on their knees and wait on the Lord to hear His voice for direction on what to do. They just keep silent and continue to fast and pray. This is a very practical part of their lives.
Bro Denny: Do they have corporate fasting where the whole church joins in when a need comes up?
Bro Ren: Yes, they do. Let me just give you an example about when the group Eastern Lightning kidnapped all of their leaders. I met with the leaders from maybe ten different house church networks. They would all say, “We have started once a week for fasting and prayer for the release of these leaders.” That was something pronounced all around the body of Christ in China. When Brother Yun was arrested the whole church in China was fasting and praying.
Bro Denny: How do the Acts of the Apostles compare to the Chinese church? What does the Chinese church believe about the Book of Acts?
Bro Paul: They would say, “We are there. It is our normal Christian life.” They believe that Acts is a demonstration of the normal Christian life. It is a testimony of the resurrected Christ, and He is still the same today. They do not believe that miracles have passed away.
Bro Ren: We have to understand that the Gospel that is preached in China, is a little bit different. The emphasis is not only intellectual and mental messages. It is fifty percent preaching, fifty percent showing the power of the Gospel. There is always an expectation and readiness for miracles. It is normal that anytime when the message of the Gospel is pronounced, there is going to be a demonstration of the power of God in that situation. People can see clearly that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He is the Savior of the world. The church of China is not praying for miracles, but they are living in miracles. It is like Paul said: it is the normal Christian life.
Think about the challenge of the countries west of China, like the many Muslim countries. The only thing that can really bring an opening to these people is a demonstration of God’s compassion. You have to show them that you have something more than all these gods they are bowing to. You have to prove your case, instantly and on the spot, that this is true – that Jesus is alive, and that He is the Savior of the world, and that He has all authority.
The Chinese house churches are living in the time of the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit is working in their lives. They are just trying to follow the wind of the Holy Spirit. It is something we miss. We always want to settle, and we hope that the Holy Spirit will settle with us and just be with us as we create these centers and places where we hope the Spirit will be moving in a mighty way. We have to understand that God’s Holy Spirit is moving all the time. We have to be very flexible. We should with the maximum effort join the Holy Spirit where He is working, not trying to work ourselves. It is always better to partner with Him, to find out where He is active today, where the battle is going on, and join Him there. Then we will be blessed with souls, and also the blessing will be reversed upon us.
Bro Denny: That leads me to my next question. What about missions and methods of evangelism? How do our Chinese brothers live out the Great Commission?
Bro Paul: Their theology and methods are really quite simple. They believe there is only one reason why God has left them here on earth: that is to evangelize the lost. Anyone who is not actively pursuing this holy purpose is missing the mark. The Great Commission cannot be compromised. Their methods are anointed preaching with signs following. The leaders instruct the evangelism teams to go to a new village and inquire about the worst problem in the village. Then they are to go and minister to that problem and show that Jesus is the all-powerful Savior. With this success, they turn to the people and preach Jesus to them.
Bro Ren: I will give you a beautiful example of how this worked for two young ladies who were sent to a village to share the Gospel:
These two sisters, eighteen years old and very tiny, came to a village of about three hundred people. There was one big problem. There was a man who was possessed by demons. Somehow, the Communists were able to count that this man had twelve demons in him. He was learned in five different languages. He was so powerful that twelve heavy farmers could not hold him back. They tried with chains and wires, but he had the power to break free. This man happened to live at the entrance of that village. The whole village of three hundred people could not walk on the road, but had to walk in the forest, because the man decided that nobody was going to pass through his property. Whenever anyone stepped through the property line, which was invisible, the man would come out with a jungle knife in his hand, shouting, “I’m going to kill you!” Everybody was afraid. It was like this for many, many years.
Now, these two young ladies came asking, “What is the biggest problem in this village?” Everybody pointed to the crazy, demon-possessed man’s house. The sisters turned around and started to move towards that house. They were walking and praying. The whole village came out from their houses. Everybody wanted to see what would happen. They knew where the invisible line was, and if they step over that line and enter into his property, they knew what would happen. He would fly out with a jungle knife, half-naked, with a crazy look in his eye, and all the demons would drive him forward to them.
Sister Lee, one of the young girls, was leading. The two of them entered onto his property. The man ran out through the door with a knife in his hand. This sister lifted up her hand and said, “In the name of Jesus, stop.” This man became frozen. He stopped in mid-air, like a statue. He couldn’t move back, and he couldn’t move forward. This man was as a stone. He couldn’t do anything. He could not stand. His eyes were totally frozen.
This happens quite often in China. We know by experience that the body is frozen by the Holy Ghost, but the person can hear with his ears. You can share any message you want to with this kind of person. He can understand every word that you speak. Sister Lee went next to this “statue” and started to proclaim the Gospel. She then, through the name of Jesus, cast all twelve demons out of this man. He was instantly delivered. He melted in that spot, like butter in sunshine. He fell down onto the ground and was completely restored. The first words he said were “This Jesus is Lord.” He was wonderfully saved and restored.
There was a very special group of people who stood together in the village that day. There they stood, the two girls on each side, and the man who used to be possessed in the middle of them. He was talking to these sisters, and together they entered into the village. As they passed the doors of the first house, the families one by one confessed that Jesus was the Son of God. The whole village with three hundred people surrendered to the Lord that evening. These are very simple Gospel methods: problem—solution— salvation.
Bro Denny: With results like these, they hardly need us Americans to help them. We should be learning from them.
Bro Paul: Actually, that is not the case. They very much need missionaries who can come help them and work together—but as equal brothers, not as Western leaders leading the show. That day is well and truly finished, and it is easy to see, they do not need our leadership. This is causing a great burden on the Chinese church. I sat in a meeting when one of the house church leaders stood up and said, “We just don’t understand why people are racing into China from the West with their own vision and ideas, doing their own thing.” He continued, “Why don’t these people come and ask us what God has given to the church?” They are all bringing their new visions, and it is actually damaging the advance of the Gospel in China. The proud westerners do not even think to ask the Chinese church. The key is that first you must find out what vision God has given His body in China, then how you can be part of that vision. Do not bring a new vision.
Bro Denny: Let’s move on to another important question. How do the Chinese Christian’s evaluate American Christianity?
Bro Ren: They feel like the church in the West is playing games. They are troubled with all the laughter in the meetings. They are broken and weeping in their assemblies, and we are telling jokes. This brings very different results. They feel we are bound by traditions and programs and therefore cannot follow the Holy Spirit’s leadings. We have to make sure we have that direct line to the Holy Spirit and seek to hear His voice. We can never overemphasize the difference between the followers of Jesus in the West and in China. These followers in China hear their Master’s voice, and they follow Him. This is actually a very simple theology. The Christians in the West have been able to eliminate Christ and His direct presence in their midst. I have a feeling sometimes that the whole Christianity in the West could be going for years before they discover that Jesus has not been with them for a long time. He has gone somewhere else. He is not with them anymore.
Bro Paul: The personal message I got from Bro. Yun is that of Jesus asleep in the boat. His whole point was that so many people in missions, in churches, and in ministries start out with the power of God and great visions. But, then people think, “Okay, we can row it ourselves now. Thank you very much.” And Jesus goes to sleep in the boat. Great storms arise. They have to wake Jesus up before it is too late to calm the storm. Make sure Jesus isn’t asleep in your church, in your family, or in your life.
to be continued in the next issue
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