I posted on Facebook recently that I was re-reading a book I first read soon after it’s publication – and about 4 more times since – ‘Lilies amongst Thorns’ (1991, Sovereign World). It’s been out of print tragically for some time now, but can still be bought ‘used’ on Amazon: it’s the story by Chinese Christians of their walk with God into revival – and the COST of that walk. When I first went to China, I had what was, for me before I did it the first time, the task of leading teams into China from Hong Kong taking Bibles to Pastors. First time I thought of going looking to buy adult nappies to wear, especially for the border crossing! It changed my life to meet Chinese Pastors, living in revival as a matter of daily life, living in miracles: it changed my life forever to hear their stories, and to meet and shake hands with the first two ex-dead people I’d ever met, two ladies – one who’d been dead 4 days and the other 7 days. Samuel Lamb, the pastor who introduced them to me, saw my face when he told me after I’d finished greeting them – absolute astonishment – and his first question to me then was ‘What’s your problem Paul? This happens every day in China!’ and holding his Bible right up to my face, said ‘It says it in here that we’ll do these things, and if it says it in here, it WILL happen’. I realised then what a comfortable gospel we’re taught in the west, as the revival in China – as you probably know – was and still is born out of the most unbelievable persecution. I thought I’d put what I wrote on Facebook in a blog in case you don’t ‘do’ Facebook. This is it:
A few days ago I posted here about a book, ‘Lilies amongst Thorns’, an ‘old’ book now (1991), but it’s a book about why there’s revival in China, not because God smiled, snapped his fingers and said ‘be revived’, but because Christians were, and still are to this day, willing to pay a massive price to see God move. I’m reading it for about the 5th time, and it still makes me weep at what a pathetic price I’ve paid to be in ministry and still expect to see God move. Ross Patterson, a great man of God, then Director of Chinese Church Support Ministries, says on the back: ‘the lessons of this book are strategic for those who would see revival. Our Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ understand that there is no crown of glory without a cross of suffering. The message is not an easy one but a vital one.
The book has the original story of ‘The heavenly man’ – Brother Yun – who as a prisoner of the Security Police, was tortured mercilessly for years, before he knew he had to fast. After 39 days without food AND water, God spoke to him as the devil taunted him incessantly that he could give up the next day as Jesus had only done 40 days and did Yun think he was greater than his Master? God’s word to him we from John 14:12 ‘that greater things he would do than Jesus did’ so he carried on. He’d begun on January 25 1984, and without food and water, carried on through to April 7 1984 – 74 days (humanly impossible for the body to survive and no one in history had ever gone that long). Hundreds in the prison were saved when they saw his sacrifice and torture ( electric rods, leather whips, big needles inserted under each of his finger nails regularly, prisoners urinating and defecating on him and much more… After 74 days he weighed less than 30kgs -66 pounds, 4 stone 7 pounds, his wife didn’t recognise him (he was the size of a 6 year old – a man in his 30s) – but revival came. I’ve lost 55kgs in 18 months – nearly what Yun weighed – and I’m still overweight.,. Would we pay that price and sing scripture 70 days into a fast to see Jesus move in power?
No crown of glory without a cross of suffering. Am I ready for that? Are you? How much do you love Jesus and want his Kingdom to come to earth? The Chinese Church pray that the ‘West’ will be blessed with the ‘precious gift of persecution’. Do we really want revival? If you want to be challenged to the very root of your being, read this book, it’ll cost as little as 1p (0.50 cents USA) on Amazon….
I had the privilege of meeting Yun and other pastors – including Wang Ming Dao, the Father and founder of the Chinese House Church movement (now about 150 million people strong) – who have been horrendously persecuted/incarcerated (Samuel Lamb years in a coal mine in Siberia in constant sub zero temperatures for about 20 years), George Chen and others, soon after their releases from captivity, and in 1987 when I met them, they’d say it was a privilege to be considered worthy to suffer for Jesus – and had hundreds of churches with millions of members as testimony to their sacrifice and their suffering…Tragically, if you’ve ever heard ‘The Heavenly Man’, Yun, speak since he got to the west, he says that the worst persecution he’s ever faced is from Christian in the west – ‘friendly(?) fire’. Church, we have light years to go in the west if we want to see God move. I’ve been the victim of friendly fire many times in 40 years in ministry, even recently, and man, it’s painful. We HAVE to change.
‘It’s a privilege to be considered worthy (by God) to suffer for Jesus’…. No crown of glory without a cross of suffering, no revival without massive sacrifice… do we really want revival?