Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Heavenly Man

I finished reading the biography by Brother Yun "Heavenly Man", a believer who suffered for Christ as he was jailed and tortured for sharing his faith in the impoverished rural parts of China. The title came from the name he called himself when he was captured the first time and was dragged by the authorities towards his home where an unsuspecting house church was secretly meeting. He feigned insanity and started yelling in code in hopes that his fellowship would hear him and have enough time to escape. Actually, to his horror, his brothers and sisters in Christ came out to check out who was making all that noise, and wouldn't leave but instead, followed as he was dragged to jail which made him act even more crazy. The police forgot about them because Yun had become too hard to handle. From that point on, it was a nickname for him, and his home village was known as "Gospel Village", because people from there believed and became evangelists to the rest of the region.

Brother Yun has a convicting point of view about the hardships that persecution brings to Christians in his country. After sharing about the horrible ordeal that he went through as well as his family and friends, he concludes that the house church in China does not pray for persecution to end. They actually pray that it continues. Yun and his family left China and were ex-patriots in Germany for awhile, and has had a good chance to observe the westernized church in the US and Europe, and hopes that his country's church never becomes like us. Not that they are superior but because the hardships they endure actually make them more committed to God. They count it all joy.

But the pitfalls for sin tend to be different. Yun gets out of jail and goes back into secret evangelism, neglecting his farm that supports his family and ignoring his wife. After not respecting her warnings that she got from a dream to spare him another trip to jail, he got caught. This time it wasn't him who suffers except at the beginning, but his family. His livelihood was subsistence farming and in a primitive agricultural community, women could not do the work alone. No one was left to take care of them because when Christians were arrested, hundreds in one community were incarcerated at the same time so there was no support network left for the families left behind. Mercifully, he was released before his children starved to death, only to find himself already scheduled to speak at several house churches--he had memorized whole books of the Bible and in a place where so few men got training as pastors, and bibles were rare, he was in huge demand.

But even under that pressure, he and his wife agreed to pray together in the mountains and Yun was convicted by God that he was making ministry his idol. Yun realized that he often was doing God's work without God, and that he had become prideful. Many of his keepers and fellow inmates in the jails had failed to break him, but the only time he came to that point of breaking was seeing his children during visitation and that they were going cold and hungry. He had a shift of priorities where his walk with God came first, his wife and kids came second and then came ministry.

As for me, Brother Yun made me glad that I am a Christian but aware of all the things that I focus on which are a waste of time and energy. It made me long to be a heavenly woman, the kind for whom there is no price too high to pay for her faith in Jesus and the Gospel. The kind that counts it all joy to have the privilege to sacrifice for God, and who has experienced God's sufficiency.


Arnold said...

I appreciate the balanced approach that's apparently in this bio.

Too often, we glamorize the persecuted church. Although these people are often noble - and put us to shame in many, many ways - they are still people. They have sin issues, too. I say that not to denigrate them in any way, but it's good when we move them out of the realm of comic book cutouts and into the realm of real people.

Althea said...

Arnold, thanks for your comment.

I think that the house church of China has been strong as it has been is because of a deep awareness of sin among its members. And despite all the amazing things these people have withstood and accomplished, they will be the first to proclaim that it is not to themselves that any credit is due, but to the Lord.

I am sure their missionaries are boldly going forth at this minute into places that persecution has equipped them for. I am excited to even pray for them.