Last Saturday, I posted a blog based on a song I had heard and this week, I received a really powerful email about an interview with believers in China. I thought it would be fun from time to time to share some outside-the-box posts on Saturdays. So I’ll only give a personal comment and then let you read the post that I found so powerful.
It really hit me as I read just how surface level my faith and walk are. How much deeper a life in Christ can and should be. Part of me wanted to make it about the number of hours I pray each day or the number of days I fast, but although both of those things are important, I find that I’m trying to devise a formula to grow closer to God and that is not the answer. However, more hunger, devotion, and expectation of and for God in every area of our lives is important. Seeking God for where He’s leading instead of asking Him to come along with us is key.
I hope this will be a blessing to you as it has been for me. I believe that God is opening up the opportunity for a greater closeness to Him in these days and this conversation will surely whet your appetite…
The Chinese House Churches Seem “Radical”
Denny Kenaston Interviews Some Brothers from China
The Lord takes 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, & their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: This honor have all His saints. Praise ye the Lord. Psalms 149:4-9
Denny: there is a powerful church in China, a beautiful bride, being prepared & waiting, for her Bridegroom. We Christians in USA need to see their vision.
Br Denny: How much do the saints in the house churches in China, fast & pray?
Br Ren: Look at prayer first: the shepherds of the churches try to pray 3-4 hours daily—this is normal. Other brothers are totally committed to pray, praying almost every waking minute. Such ones cannot be elders, because they’re spending most all their time praying. We see 2 kinds of leaders: “spiritual” ones who fast & pray; then “practical” ones, who are “operational leaders”—active in the everyday affairs of the church. The praying leaders pray for the whole church, & especially for the practical leaders.
Their ministry is not preaching. And, the pract. leaders go to them for wisdom & direction. Very few Westerners meet these praying ones: they are older men who can’t travel anymore, so they are mainly in a prayer ministry. It keeps the church literally on track. They hear from the Lord, and give answers to the practical ones.
Br Paul: I know a brother who does not sleep more than 2 hours a night: he prays about 22 hrs. every day. Also, the brothers & sisters pray very much, & have many all-night prayer vigils. I have been in some of these meetings; and, by morning the floor is slippery because of all the tears which flowed during prayer!
Br Denny: What part does fasting have in all the testimonies we have heard?
Br Ren: With most saints throughout China, there are 2 kinds of fasting: many pastors have to fast, because they don’t have money for food—it’s a natural part of their lives. The other kind of fasting comes out of a burden for someone, or some spiritual issue. Br Yun fasted 100 days, to get a single Bible during the Cold War revolution. He only ate a small bowl of rice each day—this means there wasn’t any time he was not basically fasting. After 100 days of prayer and fasting, he miraculously received a Bible—but this is not “special”: saints fast like this often.
During our tour, Paul shared about one of the gospel teams: “The first time, we sent about 20 people out to preach; and, 19 were arrested—one returned to report to us. The others were held for 6 months. So we sent another group, but the same thing happened: one sister came home on a stretcher—they had smashed-in her skull, and she was paralyzed. But God later restored her. When such resistance arises in 1 location, the whole team goes into fasting & prayer; and usually, this kind of fasting breaks the yoke within 30 days. Then the Gospel has free course. When resistance is so heavy, the teams do not try to push the Gospel: they get on their knees, waiting upon the Lord, to hear His voice for direction about what to do. They just outwardly keep silent, but continue fasting & praying—this is a very practical part of their lives.
Br Denny: do they corporately fast, where the whole church joins in when a need comes up?
Br Ren: Yes. Here’s an example: when the group Eastern Lightning, kidnapped many of the leaders, I met with some other leaders from maybe 10 different house church networks. They would tell me: “we have started once weekly, to fast & pray for the release of these leaders.” The word about such fasting & prayer was spread to the Body of Christ, all around China. Also, when Br.Yun was arrested, the whole church in China went to fasting & prayer.
Br Denny: How does the church in China compare with the Book of Acts? What do they believe regarding Acts?
Br Paul: I feel they would say this: “We are in it. What is seen in Acts, is our normal Christian life.” So they believe Acts just portrays a normal Christian life: it is the testimony of the resurrected Christ; and the saint’s experience that He is still the same today—miracles have not “passed away.”
Br Ren: Please understand that the Gospel being preached in China is a bit different: the saints do not speak just mental, intellectual messages. They preach “50%,” then they also show the power of the Gospel, 50%. They always have an expectation & 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. So the people see clearly, that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He is the Savior of the world. The church in China is not “praying for miracles,” they are just living in miracles. Like Paul revealed: it is the normal Christian life.
Think about the challenge of the countries west of China, such as the many Muslim countries. We feel 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 the gods they are bowing down to. You have to “prove your case” instantly, on the spot. Then they know the reality that Jesus is alive, & the Savior of the world, & that He has all authority. So, the house church saints have to be the same as those in the book of Acts; and, the Holy Spirit does work in their lives—they just try to follow the wind of the Holy Spirit. It is too easy to miss this Reality. We always want to settle-in, hoping the Holy Spirit will settle with us, and just be with us as we create “centers,” or places where we hope the Spirit will “move in a mighty way.” No! We must understand that God’s Holy Spirit is moving all the time; so, we must be very pliable & flexible. We must give the maximum effort to join & be one with, the Spirit—where He is working—not trying to do a work ourselves. The better way is to always partner with Him, finding out where He is active today—where the battle is going on—and just join Him there: we will then be blessed with souls—the blessing will be reversed, and upon us.
Br Denny: that brings-up my next question: what about missions, and methods of evangelism? In what way do our brothers & sisters in China, live out the Great Commission?
Br Paul: Their “theology,” & methods, are very simple: the saints believe there is only one reason God has left them on earth: to evangelize the lost; and, anyone not actively pursuing this holy purpose is missing the mark. We cannot compromise or water-down, The Great Commission. So their “methods” are: Spirit-anointed preaching, with signs following. The leaders instruct the evangelistic teams to go to a new village & inquire about the worst situation or problem, there. Then they go and minister to that problem, showing that JESUS is the all-powerful Savior & Lord—with this success, they turn to the people and preach Jesus to them.
Br Ren: here is a beautiful example of this working for 2 young sisters, sent to a village to share the gospel: They were 18, & very small (tiny). They went to a village of about 300 people. A man possessed by demons was there. Somehow, the Communists ascertained that this man had in him, 12 demons! Yet he was learned, knowing 5 languages. But the demons in him were so powerful that 12 big farmers could not hold him down. So they tried using chains & wire; but, he would break free! This man was living at the entrance of the village, so all 300 people could hardly walk on the main road: they had to circumvent around, through a forest—because that man decided no one was going to pass through or by, his property. The property line was not visible, so if anyone stepped through, the man would run out with a jungle knife shouting, “I will kill you!” So everyone was afraid; and, it had been like this for many years.
These 2 young sisters came asking, “What is the biggest problem in your village?” And everyone pointed them to the crazy, demon-possessed man’s house! Whereupon, the sisters turned and started walking toward his house. And as they walked, they really prayed. Well, the whole town came out, to see what would happen. The villagers knew about the invisible line; and anyone stepping over it, they knew they would be attacked: the man would come at the girls with his jungle knife, half-naked, with a crazy look in his eye; and, all the demons would drive him quickly to them! The one girl, Sis.Lee, was leading the way: and, as they entered the man’s property, he did run toward them, with his knife in hand. But Sis.Lee lifted-up her hand, saying, “In the name of Jesus, STOP!” And the man actually “froze” in mid-air: he was like a stone statue—not being able to move forward or backward, and his eyes seemed frozen in him.
Oh, this happens quite often in China: from experience, we know that their bodies are “frozen” by the Holy Spirit—yet the person can hear with their ears. So you can share any message the Lord leads, since they can understand every word you speak. And Sis.Lee went right up next to this “statue,” & began proclaiming the Gospel to him! She then—in the Name of Jesus—cast all 12 demons out, & the man was instantly delivered. (She was 18). The man “melted” on the spot, like butter in hot sunshine: he fell to the ground, and was completely restored. Then, the first words he uttered were: “This Jesus is Lord!”—he was gloriously saved: fully restored. These very “special” girls stood together in that village: they just stood there, the 2 girls on each side, with the man who was formerly possessed, in between them, talking normally. Then all 3, entered the village, and as they passed the 1st house, the families 1 by 1, confessed openly that Jesus was the Son of God. Then, all 300 villagers surrendered to the Lord Jesus, that night. So we use “simple” Gospel methods: a) problem; b) solution; c) salvation—so simple & real.
Br Denny: With such results, you saints hardly need Americans “to come and help you.” In fact, we Christians in USA, should be learning from the example of the Church in China.
Br Paul: No, this is not the case: they really need missionaries who can really help them, but who work together as equal brothers, not as Western leaders, “leading the show”—that day is truly over, fully finished. I’m sorry: Western “leadership” is causing great burden on the Church in China. In a meeting, I heard a house-church leader stand saying, “We just don’t understand why people from the West are racing into China with their own vision & ideas, ‘doing their own thing’.” He continued, “Why don’t these people come to ask, ‘What has God given to His church here?’ But, most all of them bring their own “new vision.” It actually damages the advance of the Gospel in China! Most proud Westerners don’t even think to inquire of the Chinese saints.” So, the crucial key is, first you must find what vision God has imparted to His Body in China; then, how can you be a part of that vision? Then you are an equal brother.
Br Denny: May I ask, How do Christians in China evaluate “American Christianity”?
Br Ren: Many feel like the Church in the West is “playing games.” It troubles the Chinese saints, who hear of all your joking & laughter (in your meetings)—They are broken, and weep in their assemblies; but you tell jokes. So, the “American way,” brings very different results. The saints in China feel you are mostly bound by traditions & programs; and therefore, cannot follow the Holy Spirit’s leadings. We must make sure we have a “direct line” to the Holy Spirit, seeking only The Lord’s voice. We can’t overemphasize the difference between those who follow Jesus in the West, with those in China: saints in China, long to hear only their Master’s voice, and follow Him—this is very simple theology. I’m very sorry: it appears that Christians in the West have mainly eliminated The Living Christ with His direct Presence, from their midst. My feeling is, most of Christianity in the West can go on for years, without realizing that the Lord Jesus has not been “with them,” for a long time! He has gone on, to other places. How sad.
Br Paul: Br. Yun gave me a personal word about Jesus being asleep in the boat: his point was, so many Christians in various missions, churches, & ministries, start out with great vision(s), even seeing the power of God. But, then they begin to think: “Well, very good! We can row the boat now, thank You. It’s going just fine. We don’t need help.” But Jesus is sleeping in the boat; and, when great storms arise, they will have to awaken Him, before it is too late to calm the storm. So, you must make sure Jesus isn’t asleep in your church, your family, or your life.