Even before I was able to read this dynamic account of Brother Yun’s life as a Chinese pastor and underground church leader, my book was persecuted. I found it on the floor one morning with the front cover partially ripped and chewed off – a victim of our dog.
The Heavenly Man will definitely challenge the Western Christian’s comfortable assertions of one’s right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” So many American believers claim those rights that they forget they are found in a Declaration of Independence – not in the Word of God.
In fact, it should concern every Christ-follower that too many American churches equate democracy with Christianity and the tenets of capitalism with the teachings of Christ.
The dramatic experience and story of Brother Yun is one of torture, faith, persecution, and soaring victory. Yet it is a deeply disturbing one.
Yun is gracious in his comparisons of the faith life lived by Chinese believers and that lived by Christians who are not persecuted daily for their beliefs. However, you can’t help but marvel as you read page after page of accounts of healings, miracles, signs and visions and compare them to our own poverty of the same.
His perspective of the miraculous is powerful, as is his reflection on living in a country whose political system is defiantly opposed to the Gospel:
Once I spoke in the West and a Christian told me, “I’ve been praying for years that the Communist government in China will collapse, so Christians can live in freedom.” This is not what we pray! We never pray against our government or call down curses on them. Instead, we have learned that God is in control of both our lives and the government we live under… God has used China’s government for His own purposes, moulding and shaping His children as He sees fit… We shouldn’t pray for a lighter load to carry but a stronger back to endure.
On the signs and wonders:
Many Christians have also asked me why miracles and signs are so prevalent in China, but not so evident in the West. In the West, you have so much. You have insurance for everything. In a way, you don’t need God… In China, the greatest miracles we see are not the healings or other things, but lives transformed by the Gospel. We believe we’re not called to follow signs and wonders but instead the signs and wonders follow us when the Gospel is preached. We don’t keep our eyes on the signs and wonders; we keep our eyes on Jesus.
I can’t recommend this book enough to those who are steeped in Western churchianity. If you’re offended by that term – Western Churchianity – then you most definitely need to get a grip and understand that what too many embrace as Christianity is actually what Paul describes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3.5 happens in the last times. It’s only dead religion – “a form of godliness but denying its power.”
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2 Timothy 3.1-5)
If you’re looking for a reading prescription to renew your perspective and allow your heart to drink deeply of God’s heart for the nations, I’d suggest the following books:
• From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, by Ruth Tucker
• Let the Nations Be Glad, by John Piper
• Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (if you can, find a Perspectives class and take it!)
• The Heavenly Man
What other books or resources are you familiar with that will be good electro-faith-shock therapy for a comfortable Christian?
I’d close with these words from Brother Yun, “I can assure the Western church with absolute certainty that you don’t need any more church buildings. Church buildings will never bring the revival you seek… The first thing that is needed for revival to return to your churches is the Word of the Lord.” God’s Word is missing. Sure, there are preachers and thousands of tapes and videos of Bible teaching, but so little contains the sharp truth of God’s Word. It’s truth that will set you free.”
Brother Yun’s fantastic account of the growth, persecution and ministry of the underground church in China has been attacked significantly by some claiming he is a charlatan. Here is an excellent response to their attacks.