Every once in a while a new book comes into my hands that makes a profound impact. The Heavenly Man, a remarkable and true story of a Chinese Christian named, Yun, written with Paul Hattaway, is just such a book.
Reviews on the back indicate that it is like a modern version of the book of Acts in the New Testament. That it is too! God seems to have raised up a church in that vast country from dormant seeds scattered by missionaries who were forced out when the Communists took over in the late 1940s and early 1950s. By signs and wonders, it spread like a wild fire.
Yun's mother, at age 20, had heard missionaries tell stories and songs of Jesus. With the coming of Communism, she forgot all that, until her husband was very sick with cancer, and all means of help were exhausted. She knew she could not raise her family by herself, and suddenly remembered the name of Jesus. She called out to him, and gathered the children to say they must pray for their father to be healed in Jesus' name. Sure enough, when they did, he was healed of his cancer.
The children were sent to invite friends and relatives to come over. They came, dressed for, and expecting to attend the father's funeral, however, he met them at the door in good health and the family proceeded to share this good news of Jesus. All of the guests knelt to accept Jesus as Lord and Master.
Yun was sixteen at the time (1970) and had an amazing burden to study the Bible once he heard there was such a book. It took him months of fasting and earnest, weeping prayer before one was miraculously delivered to him, just as he saw in a vision. Then he gobbled it up, memorizing whole books in it.
Yun began to have visions instructing him to go west and south to preach, and people came to invite him. The first time he arrived at a village, everyone was gathered into one home, and since he had never heard preaching, he recited the book of Matthew to them. That was powerful enough so they were all saved and believed on Jesus right there!
It is a temptation, in my excitement, to try to re-tell many of these stories to you, but it is better if you read them all for yourself. You'll get the full impact then.
To summarize, however, the book follows the adventures of Yun as he preaches and leads up to 2000 at a time, to Christ. His mother arranges a marriage for him to a young Christian woman, Deling. As they are signing in the marriage office, Yun is recognized as a wanted man, and taken to another room, and arrested.
Throughout their marriage, they have been separated more often then together because of the times Yun has been in prison. Yet, Deling was faithful to him, and waited patiently for her husband.
At intervals this book inserts a page or two of Deling's story and thoughts, as God prepared her, and through the years as Yun's wife.
You need a strong stomach to read the chapters on how Yun was persecuted and beaten in prison. The first time he ended up fasting for 74 days. -Yes, you'll believe in miracles when you read all that.
Eventually he was released, but Yun boldly went everywhere preaching, and their house churches grew and multiplied. In fact, Yun confesses that he was burning out in ministry, and spending less time with the Lord, so he was not alert to sense the danger and escape when he was captured and imprisoned again.
Right there is a lesson I've picked up for myself. It is possible to be so busy serving the Lord, we don't have sufficient fellowship with Him in His Word. We are set up for a fall.
Yun learned to accept his time in prison as discipline from the Lord, and God turned that time into ministry and blessing right there. (Another lesson for us).
The third time, a meeting of major house church leaders was compromised, and the police were waiting in their meeting room. Yun jumped from a two story window in his effort to escape, and broke his legs. In prison his legs were beaten so badly they were useless and a constant pain to him. Other prisoners had to carry him wherever necessary. Yet! Yet- praise God, he walked out of there!
You've got to read that story for yourself. You'll not believe me if I tell it to you.
He became the spiritual leader of the vast numbers of hidden house churches, (he also explains why he refused to join the Three-self church), and when he came out of prison the second time he had a vision to set up God's Oil Station, places where believers could be trained to be leaders of those many believers, many of whom did not have a Bible, and were easy prey to spiritual wolves. His intensive training plan soon sent fervent missionaries to all corners of China.
Then they picked up a dream from a very old, old man, who remembered the days of the Back to Jerusalem movement. This new vision had them preparing and sending missionaries to the Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist countries round about them, to complete Jesus' promise in Acts 1:8 that the disciples were to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. Yun says it is time to finish the job and circle back to Jerusalem to report it done.
The Chinese house churches are busy preparing and sending missionaries, with a goal of 100,000 set aside for this thrust! Wonderful!
In God's perfect time, Yun was able to walk onto an airplane and leave China. Another miracle. From Germany he began to minister around the world, waking up western Christians to the plight and the exciting things happening in the amazing house churches of China.
Deling and their two children, Isaac and Yilin, were able to escape to Myanmar, and eventually travel from there to Germany. However, Yun who had come to see them off from Myanmar, found himself imprisoned again, and spent seven months as a missionary to desperately needy prisoners there before he was able to leave and be reunited with his family in his own apartment back in Germany.
It is often said that truth is stranger than fiction, and this book is filled with far more adventure than most fictions ever see! In the end, I am thoroughly encouraged. For years the thought of all those people in China languishing without the gospel has been like a depressing dark cloud in my mind. It seemed so hopeless to think they could be reached for Christ. Yet God has done it! Mightily too.
There are whole villages... yes, millions of Christians in China. God is with them and seeing to their training. How heartening!
Mind you, it doesn't absolve us from doing what we can to help, and I certainly want to, but the battle is the Lord's. He will ensure victory, so let's go forward unafraid, and humbly obedient to the voice of the Head of the Church universal.